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The Lewis Hine Project in Lewiston, Maine

LEWISTON - In addition to its award-winning exhibits, Museum L-A will present special programs during this year's Great Falls Balloon Festival and offer free admission on Saturday, Aug. 20. On Friday, Aug. 19 journalist and historian Joe Manning will present "The Lewis Hine Project: Tracking down the Lives of Child Laborers." Saturday's program features author Janet H. Gibson talking about her publication, "A History of Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre" and signing copies of her book. Both programs begin at 1:30 in the Museum's first-floor gallery.

For almost six years, Manning has been identifying some of the more than 5,000 child laborers photographed in the early 1900s by Lewis W. Hine, and then tracking down and interviewing their descendants. One of the stories Manning will share is about Napoleon Camire, a textile mill worker photographed in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1909. Later, Napoleon Camire moved to the Lewiston-Auburn area where he worked in the mills and lived the rest of his life. Many of Camire's descendants are still living in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Manning has been successful at telling the stories of more than 250 children, thus answering, many times over, the proverbial question, "Whatever happened to that kid?" Hine was on a mission. He wanted to eradicate child labor in the United States, a practice that had existed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and was rampant in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The National Child Labor Committee hired him in 1908 to take photographs of the children in or near their workplaces - including mills in Lewiston - in order to expose their plight to as many influential people as possible. Hine did that for the next 10 years.

Manning will show many of these historic photographs, tell the stories of the children in them, and talk about the exciting process of searching for descendants, most of whom were not aware of the historic pictures of their parents and grandparents. Some of the stories will be about young sardine cannery workers in Eastport, Maine. Hine took over 50 photos of these children in 1911.

Gibson is the Archivist and Historian for Community Little Theatre (CLT) and serves on the organization's Board of Directors. She spent three years researching, writing, and conducting interviews with many of the CLT's actors and directors. "The purpose for this publication is to put down on paper the history of the theater, while there are still people available to provide information." Gibson notes.

She plans to touch on some of the high points of the book from CLT's founding, the first musical comedy, a time when the theater "almost went dark," then touch briefly on other high points to pique the audience's interest in learning more about "the story behind the story."

Gibson has been a CLT member since 1952, appearing in their first musical production, "Kiss Me Kate" and later the dancing lead in "No No Nanette," Over the years she has appeared in numerous productions. She also directs and supervises the Senior Readers Theater Program at CLT.

Museum L-A's current special exhibit "Portraits & Voices: Shoemaking Skills of Generations" focuses on the expertise and craftsmanship of the shoe industry through oral histories, documentary photographs, videos, and images from archival collections and from shoeworkers and their families. Additional exhibits focus on the lives and the work of local people in the textile and brick-making industries as well as highlights from the "Rivers of Immigration: Peoples of the Androscoggin" exhibit. Machinery, including a Jacquard loom, represents the process of textile production.

A larger timeline than in the original "Rivers of Immigration" exhibit depicts the major immigration groups from 1840 to the present in text and photographs. This timeline will incorporate aspects of the "Writing Wall" from the original exhibit inviting visitors to write their own immigration story around the timeline's elements. Community members are also encouraged to submit their own immigration photographs. From "Portraits & Voices: Brickyard Roads" is a selection of portraits and oral history excerpts from people interviewed for the brick worker oral history project. An arrangement of photographs illustrates the process making bricks from Morin and Dennis Brickyards in the 1950s.

The Museum will be open Friday and Saturday for its regular hours - 10-4. While there is no admission fee to attend Friday's program, admission will be charged for viewing the exhibits.