Amazing what you can find in the Digital Archive. While editing an item in one organization’s collection, I discovered information in three other collections. 

I was dutifully adding Type and Subject to an item in the Great Harbor Maritime Museum Digital Archive when I found the image of an envelope addressed to “Mrs. George. G. McMurtry, Hotel Malvern, Bar Harbor, Maine.” It was postmarked Aug 17, ’38.

Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, “Continental Illinois National Bank to Mrs. George G. McMurtry Envelope, August 7, 1938,” Great Harbor Maritime Museum …view item 

I decided to create a Reference Item for Mrs. McMurtry. Whenever possible, we try to use full names in Reference Items ⇗, including birth/maiden names. They help the next archivist or user who comes along accurately enter additional information. But, I didn’t even have a first name for Mrs. McMurtry. What was her full name before and after marriage?

I went looking on the web and found way more than I bargained for!

Seems George Gibson McMurtry had quite a military career. He had left college in 1898 to fight in the Rough Riders with Teddy Roosevelt. And he was a decorated hero in World War I. 

I was able to find on the web that he married Mabel C. Post on December 16, 1903. So, I went back to Digital Archives and created a record for Mabel. I also found the following.

  • Southwest Harbor Public Library has an item with a walking tour that includes a visit to George’s grave at Ledgelawn. It notes that he was “awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism with the famed WW I ‘Lost Battalion’.”
  • Jesup Library has a Pot and Kettle Club list that includes him as a member.
  • Likewise the 1931-32 Bar Harbor Club Directory at the Jesup lists McMurtry.
  • Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association has a 1941 Bar Harbor Blue Book that lists George and “Mrs. George.”
  • And it appears that George built, or at least once owned, Bayview Cottage on Eden Street. Alas, no photos.

Oops! Then I found on the web that George and Mabel divorced in 1933. George remarried a Louise Hunt later in 1933, and they divorced in ’42. So, the letter that started all my searching was probably addressed to Louise Hunt McMurtry—I think. Maybe.

Ah Ha! In one directory “Mrs. George” was Mabel and in the other it was Louise!

I had three Reference items to edit and a Relationship to modify. This was getting complicated, there was still work to do! But, I called a halt to my quest. Maybe the next person who finds a McMurtry item can benefit from my afternoon’s work.

Do any other organizations have McMurtry memorabilia or information in their collection? Comment below if you’ve discovered more about the McMurtry’s.

Pauline is an active volunteer with The History Trust, focusing on technical issues and training. So, she has lots of reasons to search the History Trust Digital Archive and is delighted to share what she finds.