As our longtime South Portland Historical Society supporters know, May marks the time of year when we ask all of our members to renew their memberships. Membership donations come in all amounts, and it is the collective donations of our many members that help us do all the work that we do throughout the year.

May 2020 will perhaps be the most important membership drive that we have held in the history of our organization. With our museum closed and our Bug Light Kite Festival fundraiser postponed due to the pandemic, a lot of our funding sources have disappeared. Ordinarily, although we charge no admission in our museum, the donations from museum visitors and purchases in our gift shop all help to make ends meet.

South Portland can boast having one of the largest membership bases of any local historical society in the state. We have an incredible breadth of history right here – with two lighthouses, Fort Preble, a Civil War camp, shipyards, large industrial businesses, small mom-and-pop stores, and a large community of engaged residents throughout the years.

Combine that interesting history with one of the most caring communities anywhere today, and it should be no surprise that we have about 500 members who contribute to our historical society throughout the year. It is our large numbers that make it possible for us to normally offer a free museum, open every day, plus other programs and events, a field trip program for all of our community’s third-grade students, and an online museum that is open 24/7.

We still focus on our primary mission of researching, collecting and preserving pieces of our community’s past, and you certainly are familiar with our weekly history column that we publish in the Sentry.

There are about 10,000 households in South Portland, however, so if you are reading this and you are not currently a member, I hope that you will seriously consider becoming one at this time when we need it most. We keep our dues at levels that most anyone can afford. From a $10 senior/student level, to $15 for an individual, or $25 for a family membership, most South Portland families can find a way to support the society.

During this membership drive, while we would appreciate a donation of any amount, we are hoping to encourage a higher level of support with the offer of a free South Portland Historical Society T-shirt (while supplies last) to those who make a donation of $50 or more. These are poly/cotton shirts in an attractive heather-blue color and with the historical society’s logo on the left breast. The T-shirts are available in sizes from small to 2X, and we also have some additional style shirts in youth sizes and up to 3X. We will offer free delivery to households in South Portland, or we can offer a contactless pick-up at our museum, by appointment.

Donations can be made by credit card by calling the museum at 207-767-7299) or using the donate button on our Online Museum website at sphistory.pastperfectonline.com. You could also mail or drop off a check to us at South Portland Historical Society, 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106.

Having an active historical society and museum in South Portland adds to the quality of life in our community. We hope that you see the value that the organization brings ~ and that you find a way to be a part of it. We so very much appreciate your support.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society.