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Maine Folklife Center

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Penobscot Language Dictionary

The Maine Folklife Center is proud to announce that it is part of a three year project in partnership with the Penobscot Nation and American Philosophical Society (APS) “to create a comprehensive printed version of the Penobscot Dictionary, complete with an English index and searchable online database.”

The press release states: “The project, which was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $339,411, aims to provide resources and linguistic training to the Penobscot Nation’s language revitalization community, which aims to keep the language alive and in use, through the creation of the language’s first published comprehensive dictionary.

“I think it is important for the university to reach out to communities, aiding their cultural efforts, and in particular to the Penobscots, who are our neighbors,” Pauleena MacDougall, director of the Maine Folklife Center and faculty associate in anthropology at UMaine, says. …

Co-principal investigators MacDougall and Conor Quinn, a linguist who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006, and a project advisory committee will oversee the compilation and implementation of the dictionary. MacDougall and Quinn … have extensive backgrounds working with the Penobscot language. …

“It’s going to be a constant interaction,” MacDougall says. “We’re going to be meeting with the Penobscots regularly and hopefully provide them with resources for their language program as we prepare the dictionary for publication.” …

The project, which will take place from September 2013 through August 2016, will start by archiving the original dictionary in database form and providing linguistic training. By the second year, researchers hope to edit and add entries, continue training and user-test the database. By the third year, the group hopes to have a final version of the dictionary ready for printing.

Read the full press release “In Their Words” by Elyse Kahl.

We also thought we’d use this opportunity to share links to two very informative website about endangered languages: and


Some sad news for the folklore world:

George G. Carey July 21, 1934-March 2, 2013

George G. Carey, 78, a long time resident of Tenants Harbor, Maine, died peacefully in his sleep on March 2. Carey, who grew up in Princeton, N.J., attended Princeton Country Day School, South Kent School in Connecticut, Middlebury College and held a Ph.D. from Indiana University. Folklore was his specialty, because, he once explained, “What other profession pays you to sit on a bench outside a general store, chatting with the occupants.” While teaching at the University of Maryland, he published the book Maryland Folklore, one of several he would publish. Carey later joined the English department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and, while there, served as Maryland’s State Folklorist in 1974-75. Carey retired from UMass to reside year round at his summer residence of Tenants Harbor. There, with his hives of bees – “my thousand employees” – his chain saws, John Deere tractors and two ancient trucks he settled into life as a tender of forests and a clearer of land — never far from the water which served as a backdrop for Carey’s life: messing about in boats as a child, sailing his Concordia yawl or rowing his Alden shell. He is survived by his wife, Susan, former wife Deborah Pease, daughter Merritt, son-in-law Chris Jones, sister Nan Carey, brother James (Tim) Carey and his grandchildren, Liam, 10, Madeleine, 6, and Grace, 2. A memorial service will be held this summer.


We’re being talked about!

The Maine Folklife Center has had a lot written and published about it recently, so we wanted to share the articles with you in case you missed any of them.

Maine Alumni Magazine Winter 2013 (pp. 06)

Maine Archives and Museums Newsletter Vol. 16, No. 1 (pp. 11)

Digital Commons: DC Telegraph February 28, 2013

Pauleena and Katrina were also on “Talk Of The Towns (Community Topics with Ron Beard)” on Friday March 8 on WERU .  If you missed it, you can listen to the broadcast here.


Announcing the Maine Folklife Center’s Maine Ballad Swap & Workshop!

The Maine Ballad Swap & Workshop consists of a panel discussion/performance and audience participation of several ballads collected in Maine.  These include both British Ballads such as “Molly Bawn,” and local ballads such as “The Deer Isle Tragedy.” We will discuss ballad collecting in Maine with Pauleena MacDougall (Director of the MFC), literary themes in ballads with Sarah Harlan-Haughey (UMaine English professor and honors preceptor) and how ballads are performed traditionally, how ballads move and change over time with musicians and folk song collectors Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee (members of Castlebay), and Jeff “Smokey” McKeen, member of the Old Grey Goose performing group.

The audience is invited to bring their favorite ballad or collections of family songs. The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The program will take place on three different days in three libraries:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 time: 6:30-8:30 pm at Belfast Community Library.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 time: 4:30-6:30 pm at University Club in Fogler Library.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 time: 6:30-8:30 pm at Rines Auditorium at Portland Public Library.



A new collaboration between the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center and the University of Maine will preserve all the original recordings, transcripts and photographs from the Northeast Archives. That collection, the entire holdings of the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, is part of UMaine’s Folklife Center.

The library will acquire the entire collection, preserve it at its state-of-the art facilities and serve it online and in person to researchers from around the world.  Copies in digital form will remain accessible at UMaine’s Maine Folklife Center.

Currently, we are over half way done scanning our photograph collection, which we do as TIFF files, and a third of the way through our paper collection (transcripts, index logs, field notes, etc.), which we do as searchable PDFs.  We have sent off shipments of audio to be digitized by George Blood Audio and Video in Philadelphia and are preparing more to be sent down.  We are also working on completing the necessary metadata (data about data) records to make the digital records complete, usable, and sustainable.

Graduate Assistant Josh presenting about the digitization project at the Maine Archives and Museums (MAM) conference at University of Maine, Orono on October 26, 2012.

We are available to consult with other organizations who are interested in digitizing their collections as well as assist private individuals who want CD/DVD copies of their music or video collections (reel-to-reel, VHS, audio cassette, vinyl) made.



Announcing the new Acadia Trad School.  Though not affiliated with the MFC, their directive nicely matches up with ours.  Acadia Trad School will feature workshops with traditional musicians this in Bar Harbor, ME.  Registration will begin for the summer workshops in December.  According to their website, “The Acadia Trad School is dedicated to promoting education and appreciation of traditional music, dance, art, instrument crafts and associated technologies. The school is for people who love traditional music and want to advance their knowledge and skills in music or dance. We consider Traditional Music and Arts as forms of artistic expression that have deeply rooted cultural identity and have withstood the test of time.”  Check out more on their website.



Kaitlin Anderson (Anthropology major, Earth Sciences & Spanish minor) is featured on the CUGR web site! Kaitlyn is working with Pauleena MacDougall on her honors thesis that will examine the Old Swedish language spoken in New Sweden, Maine through a series of oral interviews conducted with members of that community. Read more about her here.



Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Grant No. 10-5500-7104: 2010-2011, the Maine Folklife Center has completed the Maine Song and Story Sampler Map with 50 sites around the state. Each site on the map includes a song and story from our collection. In addition, we have included 13 lesson plans for teachers to use the site in the classroom.  See them here.

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Contact Information

Maine Folklife Center
5773 South Stevens, Room 112B
Orono, Maine 04469-5773
Phone: (207) 581-1891 | Fax: (207) 581-1823E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System