BETHEL — The Bethel Historical Society will hold its Annual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6, in the exhibit hall of the Dr. Moses Mason House, at 14 Broad St. A 6:30 p.m. potluck supper will precede the meeting, during which officers and trustees for 2012-13 will be elected, brief reports given by the president of the board and others, and the society’s 2012 Historic Preservation Award presented.

This significant award, which was established by the society in 1993 to recognize exceptional local efforts in the area of historic preservation, will be presented to the Gilead Historical Society for its significant work in saving, relocating and restoring the Gilead Village schoolhouse and the 1851 Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad Station, the oldest structure of its type surviving in Maine.

Slides showing the various stages of these projects, provided by Linsley Chapman, will be shown during the meeting. The meeting is free and anyone interested is encouraged to attend.

The end of summer will see the departure of the summer intern, Carlee Beatson. From guiding visitors through the Mason House period rooms and Broad Street Historic District, to sorting collection items, to writing research papers, Carlee has successfully participated in a wide variety of experiences that are unique to museums and historical organizations. Her cheerful smile, pleasant manner and willingness to meet new challenges have impressed society staff, as well as summer visitors.

As the largest and most active historical organization in western Maine, the Bethel Historical Society is always looking for ways to promote an appreciation for and understanding of the region’s past through collaborate with other like-minded groups. To this end, the society has agreed to loan six of its most important 19th century samplers to the Dyer Library/Saco Museum for a major exhibition of needlework created in Maine by schoolgirls of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Titled “I My Needle Ply With Skill: Maine Schoolgirl Needlework of the Federal Era,” the display will be on view at the Saco Museum from Jan. 12 through March 2.

At a time when advanced academic opportunities for young women were limited, private academies — often run by women — offered training not only in academic subjects, but also in the fancy sewing skills that were of critical importance to future homemakers of the Federal era. While many of these schools were well established in southern New England states by the late 18th century, Maine developed private academies a bit later. As these local academies grew and flourished, new styles of samplers and needlework evolved that were unique to Maine.

This exhibition will explore that evolution and offer a glimpse of a period of blossoming female creativity and accomplishment that transcended the societal limitations on women of the era. About 80 samplers and other embroideries will be on view, drawn from the collections of the Dyer Library/Saco Museum as well as other public and private collections in Maine and beyond. The exhibition will also be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Dyer Library/Saco Museum Executive Director Leslie Rounds.

A free public opening reception will take place at the Saco Museum on Friday, Jan. 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The museum is at 371 Main St. Saco, and can be contacted at 283-3861 or

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