Joan Benoit Samuelson: A Maine Story

2024 Maine History Maker documentary

On May 21, 2024, the Maine Historical Society honored Joan Benoit Samuelson with its annual Maine History Maker award at L.L.Bean’s corporate headquarters in Freeport, Maine. The award recognizes Mainers shaping the state through innovation, leadership, and commitment to community.

In 1984, Joan Benoit stunned crowds, winning the first-ever Olympic women’s marathon in Los Angeles. She instantly became an international icon: a groundbreaking athlete whose commitment, grit, resilience, and civic leadership continue to inspire young women and audiences throughout the world.

Joan's Maine roots run deep: her family founded and, for nearly a century, ran one of Maine’s leading businesses, A.H. Benoit & Co. From her childhood in Cape Elizabeth to her active work for the Greater Maine community, and educational and environmental causes, Joan is a Mainer first and foremost.

Maine Historical Society produced this four-part documentary as part of the 2024 Maine History Maker evening program. The video explores her Maine roots, record-breaking athletic accomplishments, devotion to family, and civic leadership, and includes hundreds of archival images, historic video footage, and touching interviews with friends, colleagues, and family.

You can also watch the event program in full, including this documentary, remarks by speakers, and the award presentation. To learn more about Maine History Maker and past awardees, please visit the Maine History Maker site.

Photo: Kevin Morris

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