Registration open for Maine Statehood and Bicentennial Conference at UMaine

Registration is open for the Maine Statehood and Bicentennial Conference May 30–June 1 at the University of Maine.

In July 1819, a majority of voters in the District of Maine chose to separate from Massachusetts. Maine became the 23rd state in the nation in March 1820.

Conference organizers see the bicentennial as an opportunity to encourage public reflection and a deeper understanding of the past. An awareness of the challenges faced during the statehood process can encourage civic dialogue to enhance the present and future of Maine and its people.

Seven panel discussions will be held throughout the conference at the Collins Center for the Arts and Wells Conference Center. Topics will include indigenous people and the Maine State Constitution, the Maine-Missouri Crisis and the politics of slavery, visual culture during the statehood era, the Madawaska Territory and statehood, historic Maine music, and public versus private ownership of Maine’s Public Reserved Lands.

The conference also features a May 30 concert by DaPonte String Quartet (additional ticket required) and a free performance June 1 by The Bangor Band, one of the oldest continuous community bands in the United States.

Registration is available online. The conference is open to the public for $60, and several of its major events are free. University of Maine System students, faculty and staff may register with no charge.

Participation in the conference from local cultural organizations as well as middle and high school teachers and students is encouraged, especially as part of the Maine History Festival, which will be held 2:30–4:30 p.m. May 31 at the Collins Center for the Arts.

The festival will feature exhibit-style and poster presentations by cultural organizations and award-winning student research about Maine statehood and its ongoing legacies. The festival is co-hosted by the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine (USM) and the Maine Studies Program at UMaine in partnership with National History Day in Maine and the Maine Historical Society.

The conference’s keynote will follow the Maine History Festival at 5 p.m. May 31 in 100 D.P. Corbett Business Building, and will feature two Pulitzer-Prize winning historians: Alan Taylor, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair in American History at the University of Virginia; and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, 300th Anniversary University Professor emerita at Harvard University.

A reception will take place during the Maine History Festival. The festival, reception and keynote are free and open to the public.

Conference materials will be available via Digital Commons. Select conference papers are likely to appear in bicentennial issues of the Maine Policy Review and Maine History as well as in a book of scholarly essays.

Initial funding for the conference was provided by the UMaine President’s Office and the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust. Several UMaine departments and programs are institutional partners of the event. Other contributors include USM, University of Maine at Machias, University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Farmington, Maine State Museum, Margaret Chase Smith Library, and the Maine Historical Society.

The conference is one of several events slated around the state to mark Maine’s bicentennial in March 2020.

More about the Maine Statehood and Bicentennial Conference, including a complete schedule, is online. For additional information, email Liam Riordan, For more about the Maine History Festival, email Libby Bischof,

Contact: Alan Berry, 581.1955