Maine Folklife Center Launches Web Song, Story Sampler

The Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine has launched an interactive website offering layers of written and recorded narratives, stories and songs, a sampling of the thousands of archived materials representing Maine culture, color and life.

The Maine Song and Story Sampler (MS&SS) website, with accompanying lesson plans for K-12 teachers, is the culmination of a year’s work by Folklife Center Director Pauleena MacDougall and history graduate student Josh Parda.

“The original intent was to build awareness in the state of the rich material we have here, the cultural heritage that we have in Maine,” MacDougall says. With 50 clickable Google map “balloons,” she says both members of communities and schools can delve deep into files, photos and information that preserve Maine’s cultural character. “It’s a little slice of Maine’s cultural heritage,” she says.

The site presents audio and video recordings of traditional songs and stories as downloadable mp3s and mpeg4s on a map on the Internet with accompanying transcriptions of the text and musical notations — thus creating a global audience for Maine and some of the Northeast’s unique traditions. Visitors to the site can click on a Google map of the Northeast, find their community, and click on a link to a song or story from their community.

Each song and story includes the name and biographies of the singer or storyteller and collector, date and place of collection and other interpretive information, including photographs, MacDougall says. The web page locates the songs and stories in time and place.

“We have chosen a variety of songs and stories that reflect the diverse occupations and ethnicities of the people of Maine, as well as a range of both inland and coastal communities, large cities and small towns,” says MacDougall. “Visitors to the site will be able to choose to listen to and read transcripts of recordings from specific communities in Maine and the Maritimes.”

MacDougall plans to continue to add to the map in the future.

The sampler project provides an opportunity for teachers, parents and other educators to introduce the diversity of Maine’s folklife to students of all ages, MacDougall adds. “There are innumerable ways in which this rich collection may be utilized,” she says.

The Curriculum Connection Series has been prepared, with assistance from Bangor High School history teacher Geoffrey Wingard, to offer guidance and suggestions for educators of primary, middle and secondary level students on how to use the collection as a stand-alone resource and in conjunction with other instruments.

The series first presents 12 sample lessons aligned with the Maine Department of Education endorsed Maine Learning Results. The learning results are organized in eight content areas, one of which is social studies. The social studies component is further subdivided into 5 social studies standards and 12 performance indicators. The MS&SS curriculum series presents one sample lesson and assessment for each of the 12 performance indicators.

Educators can search the MS&SS site for specific regions or communities, or use the summary exercises as primary or supplementary material. They can structure entire courses and units in Maine studies, folklore and social studies. The MS&SS also provides links to relevant external material.

“The Maine Folklife Center is a resource for educators and students across the state,” MacDougall says. “It is our hope that the Maine Song and Story Sampler and the Curriculum Connections Series will provide teachers and learners with tools to unlock the robust folk traditions of Maine and a means to begin to explore our region.”

The website, designed by associate professor Joline Blais and students in a New Media design lab class in the spring, was developed with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Contact: Pauleena MacDougall, 581-1891