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“Historical Atlas of Maine”

Stephen J. Hornsby and Richard W. Judd (editors)
Michael J. Hermann (cartographic designer)

The Historical Atlas of Maine is an ambitious attempt to present in cartographic form the historical geography of Maine from the end of the last ice age to the recent millennium. The Atlas project is based at the University of Maine and involves numerous faculty and graduate students at the university, University of Maine System campuses, and universities and colleges outside the state. The project has received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maine Legislature, the University of Maine System, the University of Maine, and the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The Historical Atlas of Maine is divided into four chronological sections: Section I Maine as Borderland, 11,000 BP-1790; Section II Shaping Maine, 1790-1850; Section III Industrial Maine, 1850-1910; and Section IV Maine in the Modern Era, 1910-2000. Three themes weave through these four sections: the first focuses on native peoples, beginning with prehistory and then following their story up to the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980; the second focuses on Euro-American exploitation of the natural resources of the state (fishery, lumber, agriculture, hydro-power); and the third traces the rise of environmental awareness in the state (Henry Thoreau, Acadia National Park).

In treating these themes, the Atlas pays particular attention to transnational and cultural contexts. Bounded by Canada on three sides, Maine is examined in its larger international and geographical setting. The Atlas also includes considerable cultural material, as well as demographic, social, and economic data. Such historical information is laid out cartographically and graphically on approximately 80 double-page plates. Each page is 10 x 14 inches, making a plate 20 x 14 inches. The plates are a rich mix of original thematic maps, historic maps, images (paintings, commercial art, photographs), and text. Unlike many historical atlases, the text on each plate is restricted to approximately 500 words, thereby placing the emphasis on cartographic and visual images to tell the story. All material on a plate is fully referenced in end notes.

The Historical Atlas of Maine will be published by the University of Maine Press in full color and hardback by the end of 2014. After publication, the atlas team will work on developing selected atlas plates for a web-based, multi-media Historical Atlas of Maine. We envision that this digital version will be particularly useful to high school and university educators teaching about Maine.

A small selection of plates is shown below. The large UMaine watermark identifies these plates as working copies.

We welcome your comments on this project.

Section I: Maine as Borderland, 11,000 BP-1790
Exploring the Gulf of Maine, 1602-1607
plate 9
Left | Right
Expansion of Settlement, 18th Century
plate 16
Left | Right
British Survey the Interior, 1760-1764
plate 21
Left | Right
Section II: Shaping Maine, 1790-1850
Defining Native Space
plate 26
Left | Right
Lumbering
plate 32
Left | Right
Mercantile Portland
plate 37
Left | Right
Section III: Industrial Maine, 1850-1910
A Changing Population
plate 41
Left | Right
Mill Towns
plate 46
Left | Right
Towards Agricultural Specialization
plate 51
Left | Right
Section IV: Maine in the Modern Era, 1910-2000
Urban Population
plate 63
Left | Right
Changes in Manufacturing
plate 66
Left | Right


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  • Stephen J. Hornsby: 581-4226
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