Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War Grants
From 2013-2015, Maine Historical Society (MHS) and Maine Humanities Council (MHC) are collaborating on Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War, a grant program to engage Maine communities in their Civil War history. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Local & Legendary brings together collaborative project teams comprised of libraries, historical organizations, and educational institutions to explore local Civil War history in multidisciplinary ways and investigate questions of that era's motivations, loyalty, identity, and politics at the community level. Digital exhibits created by the teams are added to Maine Memory Network's Civil War site.
The state of Maine holds a special place in the history of the American Civil War. Though far from the front lines, the state and its citizens played key roles in the coming of the war, the war itself, and its aftermath. More than 70,000 Mainers served in Union blue (including more than 24 Union generals), and nearly 10,000 lost their lives. But the story of Maine and the Civil War is also about the struggles, concerns, and triumphs of the 558,000 Mainers who remained at home. The project invites communities to consider how national issues and events shaped town's experience, and how, in turn, the citizens of their town shaped the national story of the Civil War?
Ten communities from around the state were selected to participate over two program years of the project. In 2013-2014, Belfast, Gorham, Portland/Westbrook, Presque Isle, and Windham participated. In 2014-2015 Bethel, Livermore/Livermore Falls/Jay, Pittsfield, Rumford, and Scarborough are participating. Selection of the communities were based on geographic and population diversity, and the strength of their applications.
Each community selected for the program participates in, organizes, and hosts a number of activities to engage participants in local, state, and national themes related to the Civil War. These include the following:
- Attending a one-day symposium and program kick-off and a a two-and-a-half-day program orientation at Bowdoin College.
- Attending monthly team meetings and work sessions in the local community from August to May.
- Digitizing 30-50 Civil War-related historic items from local collections, cataloging them, and uploading them to Maine Memory Network.
- Creating on Maine Memory Network a Civil War-related exhibit (text and images) or series of exhibits that draws on historical documents, photographs, and artifacts. This exhibit will be added to Maine and the Civil War: The Homefront and the Battlefield site.
- Organizing and hosting a series of "One Book, One Community" reading and discussion programs and extension activities related to the Civil War. A Maine Humanities Council discussion facilitator is provided to each community. Download an extensive bibliography of Civil War books, films, and other resources.
- Hosting a public celebration at the end of the project to unveil the team's work. This event also includes a performance event reflecting the Civil War history of the community.
The community team receives extensive support, guidance, and technical training throughout the project from MHC and MHS staff. In addition to the $2,000 grant, community teams receive:
- Two intensive group trainings for team leaders for which all room and board, and travel expenses, are covered.
- Attendance by MHC and MHS staff at most monthly team meetings and activities.
- Extensive technical training from MHS staff in how to digitize historic items for inclusion on Maine Memory Network, and how to research, write, illustrate, and construct a robust online MMN exhibit about the community's Civil War history.
- Extensive instruction from MHC staff in how to plan, organize, and carry out the community's "One Book" activities, including assistance with choosing a text and identifying non-traditional populations to include in the project.
- An experienced MHC discussion facilitator to lead a series of "One Book" discussions in the community.
- Assistance in designing and hosting a celebration event at the end of the project.
- A customized Theatre of Ideas production based on some aspect of the Civil War history of the community.
- Substantial readings, manuals, and other resources to help guide the team through the project year and learn more about the Civil War era. A deadline-driven timeline of project activities will also be provided to the team.
Work in each local community is planned and coordinated by a local planning team. Each planning team includes at least one representative from a local library, historical organization, and educational institution, and may also include students. Each team designates a team coordinator to serve as its local point person and to help coordinate project activities. The planning team meets monthly, often with MHC and/or MHS staff in attendance, to coordinate project activities, monitor progress, and discuss opportunities and issues that arise, and to facilitate communication with MHC and MHS. Maine Historical and Maine Humanities staff help teams organize their work, identify specific project tasks, set priorities, define specific roles and responsibilities for team members and other local participants, and assist in all phases of the project.
The planning team can form the nucleus of a larger team of local participants—historical society members, teachers, students, librarians, retirees, service club members, civically-engaged individuals, and other volunteers—who contribute to the project in a variety of ways according to their time, interest, and ability. Some of these opportunities might include mentoring students, helping with research, sharing information and knowledge, organizing events, handling publicity, leading extension activities, transcribing documents, scanning photographs, writing, editing, or participating in interviews.
Benefits of Participation
Participating in Maine in the Civil War helps communities to:
- Develop or fine-tune approaches, relationships, programs, and skills that will help leaders and staff of local cultural and community organizations become vibrant 21st century institutions.
- Develop and strengthen relationships within the community by finding common cause, sharing resources, planning and implementing projects effectively, and gaining practical experience working together.
- Provide a model for how other communities can explore and understand their historical experience.
For More Information on the project, contact Larissa Vigue Picard at Maine Historical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org or 774-1822 x215.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.