Daily Archives: October 6, 2015

Scenes from Shaker Hill Apple Fest

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Judd Tells History and Development of New Maine Atlas

After his talk, Dr. Richard W. Judd, left, talks with local historian Bruce Tucker of Alfred.

After his talk, Dr. Richard W. Judd, left, talks with local historian Bruce Tucker of Alfred.

Dr. Richard W. Judd gave a free-flowing account Sunday, Oct 4, at Alfred Shaker Museum of the how and why behind the production of a Historical Atlas of Maine. He and geographer Stephen J. Hornsby are the co-editors of the lavish volume that came out late last year from the University of Maine Press and sold out in weeks. A second printing is now available.

His talk is the third of four in a series sponsored by the museum’s Friends organization and the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society. The series, titled the Sid Emery Memorial Forum, is named in memory of a member of both organizations who died last spring.

Dr. Judd is a professor at the University of Maine who teaches Maine and New England history, as well as environmental and labor history. He made use of all of his expertise in working on the book.

For context, he explained that he arrived in Maine in 1984 and taught courses on the state’s history for some years without a textbook. There was none. A couple of simple substitutes were used, including a compilation of important Maine documents, but they were not the needed textbook. He eventually collaborated with two others and produced The Pine Tree State: From Prehistory to the Present. Soon Amy Hassinger did a book for middle- and high school students, called Finding Katahdin, which met state requirements for those grades. Then the Folklife Center at the University of Maine delivered oral histories in the wake of Stewart Hall Holbrook’s Yankee Loggers: A Recollection of Woodsmen, Cooks and River Drivers, and the Maine Memory Network was developed with old photos of many Maine people, sites, and events. The American and New England Studies department was organized at the University of Southern Maine, but has since been discontinued.

All of these projects constituted a kind of “renaissance in Maine history,” Judd said. As the new millennium started, he was confident “that Maine (despite its comparatively small population) was better documented than almost any other state.”

The new atlas was the brainchild of Burton Hatlen, a dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, he said, and Hatlen drew together a steering committee for the project. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Judd said. “We were dreaming.” The committee members had no real familiarity with an atlas.

But their ideas gradually developed, and they worked with cartographers to produce maps with short text blocks and overlaid the maps with information produced by new technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) material. The editors included colored art works and old photographs in the book too. They included bird’s-eye view maps as well, which Judd favored.

The short text explanations (about 500 words) were a new approach for Judd who, as a historian, favored narrative, but he came to see the power of keeping the narratives short, “letting the readers go into the maps and imagine the history” documented in them. For instance, readers could see the way port cities were planned: docks near the water, then warehouses, then a financial district, then the governmental and commercial sectors. It was a one-shaped pattern of development followed in most seaside urban areas, he said. Judd presented a slide show of “plates” from the book, illustrating his points.

In the question-and-answer session that followed, a woman in the audience said that she worked for Sen. Angus King and appreciated Judd’s presentation. About 35 people attended the event.

The next speaker, on Oct. 25, will be Native American historian and artist George Neptune whose work will be included in the Portland Museum of Art’s new Biennial exhibition opening on Oct. 8. His artistic specialty is basket-making, which he learned from his grandmother. Neptune graduated from Dartmouth a few years ago and works at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. His talk will begin at 1:30 and is free to the public.

The series began with James Harmon, director of the Sanford International Film Festival and Sanford high school film teacher, and Anita Sanchez, a botanist who also writes and is the author of Mr. Lincoln’s Chair, a Shaker Civil War story. The series has been funded by the Maine Humanities Council, the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation, the Alfred Historical Society and two local donors. A video of the Sanchez talk in this 150th anniversary of the Civil War is now posted at the museum’s web site at www.alfredshakermuseum.org, a product of Harmon’s student film club. Unfortunately, an unusual technology glitch thwarted the film-making of the first event in the series. The Judd talk was filmed by Patrick Bonsant, the director of Saco River TV.

Museum Hours:

Museum Hours: 1 PM - 4 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and by appointment.

Closing for the season on November 15.

Admission: Free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

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