John Martin Journal and Scrapbooks Now On-Line

John Martin (1823-1904) was the author and artist of an extraordinary journal and three scrapbooks that look back on his early years in Ellsworth and Hampden, and continue with contemporary descriptions of his life and times in Bangor, Katahdin Iron Works, and elsewhere in the area from 1864 to 1899.

During a 1997 auction, the Maine State Museum and Maine Historical Society jointly acquired the journal and scrapbooks in order to preserve them and make them available to researchers, scholars, and all interested people.

Now, for the first time, thanks to recent Maine State Museum grant funding from the Delmas Foundation, extensive research and website development work by Candace Kanes, efforts of volunteer proofreaders, and research and administrative assistance by Maine State Museum staff, the John Martin journal and scrapbooks are available on the Maine Memory Network.

Check this wonderful historical resource "Representing every particular:" John Martin's Reflections, Illustrations, and Commentary. There, John Martin enlivens the ordinary and personalizes the extraordinary through exceptional visual and narrative details regarding national figures, local buildings, gardening, crime, streetcars, Native Americans, the Civil War, parades, ice-skating, furnishings, religion, fashion, businesses, industry, entertainments, and hundreds of other subjects.


Martin created most of the 175 dramatically colored, na´ve, and charming illustrations in the journal and scrapbooks in ink and/or watercolor. In many, he meticulously numbered particular details and provided an explanatory key.

His illustration of the "Silver Lake Hotel Parlors," shown on Maine Memory Network's John Martin pages at "Scrapbook 1: 1885-1899, Katahdin Iron Works Silver Lake Hotel," is an example. Martin, who was very musically inclined and taught dancing for many years, brought these interests with him to Katahdin Iron Works (near Brownville, Maine) when he was employed there as an accountant. On August 13, 1889, Martin engaged the parlors at the nearby Silver Lake Hotel and invited a number of people to practice gospel hymns. The drawing (one page of the two page document is shown at left) documents the dress and identities of the musicale's guests, as well as the room and furnishings. Martin's annotations include the names, temperaments, and musical skills of the attendees. At the far left standing next to the organ is John Martin himself, self-described as "Expert accountant, origin of Martin's Waltz and March."