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Canadian-American Center

Publications - “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

Left | Right
Expansion of Settlement, 18th Century

Left | Right
British Survey the Interior, 1760-1764

Left | Right
Section II: Shaping Maine, 1790-1850
Defining Native Space

Left | Right

Left | Right
Mercantile Portland

Left | Right
Section III: Industrial Maine, 1850-1910
A Changing Population

Left | Right
Mill Towns

Left | Right
Towards Agricultural Specialization

Left | Right
Section IV: Maine in the Modern Era, 1910-2000
Urban Population

Left | Right
Changes in Manufacturing

Left | Right

Image Description: plate 9

Image Description: plate 16

Image Description: plate 21

Image Description: plate 26

Image Description: plate 32

Image Description: plate 37

Image Description: plate 41

Image Description: plate 46

Image Description: plate 51

Image Description: plate 63

Image Description: plate 66

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Canadian-American Center Directory

  • Stephen J. Hornsby: 581-4226
  • Raymond J. Pelletier: 581-4227
  • Howard Cody:581-1869
  • Betsy Arntzen: 581-4225
  • Craig Harris: 581-4220
  • Betsy Beattie:581-1694
  • K-12 Outreach

    Contact Information

    Canadian-American Center
    154 College Avenue
    Orono, ME 04473
    Phone: (207) 581-4220 | Fax: (207) 581-4223
    The University of Maine
    Orono, Maine 04469
    A Member of the University of Maine System