Postcards from Falmouth: Portuguese and Cape Verdean American Life in Falmouth

“Cape Verdean and Portuguese history is Falmouth history,” says Dr. Miguel Moniz, an anthropologist at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon. After leading two Joy of Learning courses, he returns with Postcards from Falmouth to recount personal and community stories that move from the historic family farmsteads of East Falmouth to the cheerful chaos of Heights summers.

Of the Portuguese and Cape Verdean farmers that helped Falmouth grow, he says, “These communities were largely invisible, I think, to a lot of the people that were coming.” But what happens outside the frame of a postcard is just as much a part of Falmouth’s history – so head into the digital exhibit to explore!

Watch the oral history recording here.

Explore the postcard collection here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.

YT Link

George Turner’s Scrimshaw Thimble

If you read the Enterprise Library Happenings column, you may have noticed mention of a question we received about a scrimshaw thimble. It turned out that the question was so fun and the thimble so adorable that it was worth turning into a blog post! 

We received an email from a staff member at the Montreal West Public Library who was working on cataloging a collection of thimbles donated to their location. (Check out Thimble Thursdays on their Facebook Page!) They knew that the maker of this thimble was George Turner of Falmouth MA, but had no other information about the artist, and wondered if we could help them. First we checked the Reference books we have on scrimshaw artists (helpfully titled Scrimshaw Artists and More Scrimshaw Artists) but they did not list a George Turner.

I then turned to the digitized historic Falmouth Enterprise to see if I could learn anything about a George Turner, and quickly found a detailed obituary of a prominent citizen, George Henry Turner, who lived from 1858 to 1939. And as a young man he’d spent time at sea on a whaler! He seemed like a very likely candidate for the creator of this thimble, and as a bonus I got to learn more about Falmouth History reading about his life. He was accidentally born in Cotuit, raised on a farm in Hatchville, went to sea young, came back to take over the family farm after his father died, ran multiple businesses including a fish market and a grocery store, and in his retirement years was known for driving around town in a venerable Model T. An all-encompassing Falmouth life!

If you know more about George Henry Turner you’d like to share with us, and especially if you know anything about this thimble, which was added to the collection by purchase in 1989, please be in touch! We can also put you in touch with the librarians at Montreal West who are caring for this little seagull now.

(Click on these newspaper clippings to enlarge them.)

Looking for America: Sculptor Hiram Powers’ Falmouth Legacy

In the Katharine Lee Bates entryway of the Main Library sits an elegant sculpture hidden in plain sight. Executed by world-renowned American-born Hiram Powers (1805-1873), the piece delights the viewer who happens to look up and notice. 

On Tuesday September 26th, at 4pm in the Hermann Meeting Room. Falmouth Museums on the Green’s Executive Director Rachel Lovett shares her research on Powers, his notable works, and how this historic piece came into the collection of the Falmouth Public Library.

This program is free to the public courtesy of a member of the Falmouth Historical Society Board of Trustees. All are welcome. Please register as space is limited.

Celebrating the Postcard!

Starting this October, the postcard celebrates its 150th year and what better way to celebrate than to introduce POSTCARDS FROM FALMOUTH, a special local history project of the Falmouth Public Library that is based upon our historical postcard collection of noted buildings, landmarks, and locations within the town of Falmouth.

Introduced in 1869 as a way of sending a simple message, postcards quickly evolved beyond their practical purpose to become the universal souvenir that brightens everyone’s mailboxes.  Today, however, postcards also provide us with rare glimpses into the past and serve as a way of documenting history.

That is why we jumped at the chance when we saw the opportunity for a grant to develop projects that use historical documents–such as our historical postcard collection–to discover unknown facts and stories about Falmouth during days gone by.  After all, to collect, preserve, and share such resources is what the Falmouth Public Library has been doing since 1792!

Over the next two years, the Library will be working on creating an oral history based upon the two postcard collections generously given to the Library by Anita Gunning and Robert C. Hunt, Jr..   

So take a look at the postcards and be sure to follow the project on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Just search #postcardsfromfalmouth 

We’ll keep you posted!


POSTCARDS FROM FALMOUTH is made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act grant,  which is administered through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.