James W. Sewall Co. donates approximately 1 million aerial images to Raymond H. Fogler Library

Raymond H. Fogler Library at the University of Maine has received a donation of over 3,000 rolls of film containing about 1 million aerial images from the James W. Sewall Co. in Old Town, Maine. The collection contains original aerial photography of Maine and New England captured by Sewall over the span of 65 years. The archive will offer researchers and the public a vast collection that details changes to Maine’s landscapes and cities over the past century.

“[The Sewall archive] presents an incredibly exciting opportunity for faculty, staff and students to work with a truly unique resource,” said Daniel Hayes, assistant professor in the School of Forest Resources at UMaine. “Maine’s forest has been in constant flux over the course of history, including the changing composition of tree species, insect outbreaks, land use change, shifting management practices, and climate change. The [archive] represents an unprecedented record of the continuing evolution of Maine’s forest landscape.”

Founded in 1880, Sewall began offering aerial photography services in 1948. The photo archive the company produced captures aerial views of nearly every part of Maine, as well as various locations in New England, Alaska, Canada, and the southern and central U.S. Many regions were photographed multiple times over the course of decades. With the archive, Fogler Library will be able to provide a valuable resource to researchers across many disciplines.

“The Sewall aerial photos have tremendous potential for research across the university,” said Anne Knowles, professor of history at UMaine. “They provide data about the growth and decline of the state’s great pulp and paper industry, urban development, transportation, forestry practices, tourism, the impact of the ash borer and other environmental issues. Such a deep historical and visual record will support interdisciplinary research for decades to come.”

The photo archive will be cataloged and managed by the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library. The archive is expected to be available to the public in late 2020.

“In turning over these archival materials, the James W. Sewall Co. is essentially entrusting its DNA to the University of Maine,” said Sewell president George Campbell Jr. “Under Joe Sewall, the company was an early adopter of aerial photography in this part of the country. Not only will Special Collections take excellent care of this important part of Sewall’s — and Maine’s — heritage, but will make it widely available to researchers as well. We could not be more pleased.”

Contact: Brad Beauregard, 207.581.1696, brad.beauregard@maine.edu