From Rebel to de Rigueur- 40 Year History of the Tee Exhibit and Panel Discussion

From Rebel to de Rigueur

From Rebel to de Rigueur

From May 31st through September 7th, FHS will continue its year-long 40th anniversary celebration with a panel discussion and kick-off to its summer-long exhibit entitled, From Rebel to de Rigueur- the 40 year history of the t-shirt.

Using our tee collection as the basis, we are planning an exhibit of 40 years of t-shirts. The public is invited to take their place in history by submitting their tees within the 1969-2009 timeframe and within the categories of politics, business, social organizations (e.g. schools, churches, non-profits, etc), identity & affiliations (e.g. 4-H club, Master Gardener, vegan), events (concerts, festivals, sports) and fashion .

Through the exhibit and panel discussion, we’ll explore the changing role of this garment in our society, from men’s undergarment to a garment that has become de rigueur world-wide. Whether it communicates participation in an event (local bake sale or Woodstock), relationship to a community (elementary school or Pilates class), or simply turns the wearer into a billboard for a national cell phone company, the tee seems to be our global uniform of choice.

And, of course, to commemorate our 40th Anniversary, we’ll be producing and selling our own commemorative tee!

T-shirts may be submitted to FHS till May 9th 2009. T-shirts that relate directly to Freeport, Maine or have been acquired by present or past Freeport,Maine residents and that relate to the exhibition topics are eligible for submission. Each shirt submitted must be accompanied by a separate, completed Registration Form and must be tagged with the t-shirt Identification Label which is provided with the Registration form. In addition, each tee must be accompanied by a large self-addressed envelope with postage sufficient for the return of the shirt(s). Registration forms are available on our website at, at our office, 45 Main Street, Freeport, ME 04032 or by calling us at 207-865.3170.

“Freeport” shirts that illuminate local, regional, or national events, businesses and groups will get preference in this exhibit but we are not limiting the exhibit to “Freeport” tees. Our goal is to share a story “about the times and about “Freeporters” through their garments,” stated Director, Christina White.

The exhibit will take place at Harrington House, 45 Main Street in Freeport, Maine.

On Sunday, May 31st from 3:00pm-4:00pm at the Old Town Hall on Bow Street in Freeport (part of the Hilton Garden Inn), join us for a fascinating discussion with a panel of cultural scholars who will be stepping from behind the podium for a lively conversation about our favorite article of clothing- the tee! The invited panelists are Dr. Ardis Cameron, University of Southern Maine, Dr. Erica Rand, Bates College and Dr. Denese Neu, HHS Planning and Consulting.

The audience will hear brief thought-provoking presentations on “Community: the nature of where vs. the nature of wear. How T-shirts define a place for locals, tourists, and beyond,” ” How Merchandising Re-invented the T-Shirt,” “The role of feminism and the tee,” and, “The often conflicting politics of shirt production, money and message.”

In The Feminist T: Unbuttoning America One Shirt at a Time, Dr. Cameron will explore the T-shirt in the 1970’s as a form of political expression, cultural identity, and collective organization. To what extent did the political T emerge out of and help articulate a feminist politics from below? Based upon oral histories, memoir and public commentaries, the talk will look at the many meanings and uses of the T for both activists and individuals who considered themselves feminists, many of whom have saved their shirts even after thirty years or more. How might we understand this passion and how does the T relate to other kinds of political collectibles among earlier suffrage activists and woman rights activists.

More than many other garments, t-shirts invite us to imagine that people who wear them bare their ties on their chests: Chicago Bears; Radical Teacher; I ? Obama; I’m not a dyke but my boyfriend is. Maybe the message is enhanced by an edgy cut, sweet material, or a provenance new or vintage. Yet no matter the apparent message, t-shirts often signal something quite different on their labels, where the “made in” location-which may differ on the same product even from one size to another-usually bespeaks “flexible production,” that is, the chasing around the globe for cheap labor that is characteristic of late capitalism. Dr. Rand will talk about the frequently conflicting politics of the t-shirt. Labor, money, pictures, words, and style: it’s often a dubious mix and match.

Dr. Neu will present a perspective on Community: the nature of where vs. the nature of wear! How T-shirts define a place for locals, tourists, and beyond” is our fourth topic area. This section of the conversation will explore the walking billboard role of tourist t-shirts and what occurs when local and tourist t-shirts create different place identities.

A donation of $5.00 is suggested. A reception will follow

Annual Meeting

Greg Paxton

Greg Paxton

Plan to join us on Thursday, May 28th at 7:00pm at Freeport Community Center for our Annual Meeting. This year our theme is Freeport on the Move. We will also be celebrating our 40th Anniversary Year!

Greg Paxton, new Executive Director of Maine Preservation, joins us as this year’s guest speaker. His topic is Historic Preservation in the 21st Century.

We’ll celebrate volunteerism and historic preservation through our Annual Preservation and Mel Collins Volunteer Awards program and we’ll also have a number of new features in celebration of four decades of historic preservation, education, and advocacy.

The conclusion of our event will be drawing the winning tickets for the three fabulous prizes in our Raffle.

Members, past Trustees, Committee Members, former employees and volunteers are extended a special welcome! On exhibit will be a range of fascinating items from our Collections, an FHS timeline, and a crossword puzzle! Cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres from Azure Cafe will be available.