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My Lost Youth: Longfellow's Portland, Then and Now

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow miniature, ca. 1840

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow miniature, ca. 1840 / Maine Historical Society

A resource developed through the Longfellow and the Forging of American Identity program.

Author: Rebecca Clifford Pride, English Teacher at Yarmouth High School, Yarmouth
Suggested Grade Level: Easily adaptable for Grades 3–12
Subject Area: English

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow loved his boyhood home of Portland, Maine. Born on Fore Street, the family moved to his maternal grandparents' home on Congress Street when Henry was eight months old. While he would go on to Bowdoin College and travel extensively abroad, ultimately living most of his adult years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he never forgot his beloved Portland.

Years after his childhood, in 1855, he wrote "My Lost Youth" about his undiminished love for and memories of growing up in Portland. This exhibit, using the poem as its focus, will present the Portland of Longfellow's boyhood. In many cases the old photos will be followed by contemporary images of what that site looked like 2004.

Following the exhibit of 68 slides are five suggested lessons that can be adapted for any grade level, 3–12.

Download Lessons

Credits: With grateful acknowledgment to Charles Calhoun, Herbert Adams, and Bill Barry, for their wealth of knowledge about historical Portland and their gracious willingness to share it. I also wish to recommend a gem of a book by Bill Barry and Earle Shettleworth, Jr. Mr. Goodhue Remembers Portland: Scenes from the Mid–19th Century combines priceless sketches with fascinating historical information. Other invaluable sources were Charles C. Calhoun's Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life, George Thornton Edwards' The Youthful Haunts of Longfellow, and Portland Landmarks' publication, "Munjoy Hill Historic Guide."

Historical Source Items to Accompany This Project