The History Trust is a collective of independent organizations that work in partnership to safeguard the Mount Desert Island region’s historical collections and make them accessible to the whole community, now and in the future.


We are a stewardship collective.

The Trust was created through conversations among coastal Maine historical societies, museums, and libraries on and near Mount Desert Island, along with Acadia National Park and College of the Atlantic. Meeting informally as Friends of Island History, we took inspiration from the founders of Acadia National Park.

Like those 20th-century community leaders—who took a valuable and vulnerable natural environment and protected it in a public trust—we realized that Mount Desert Island’s significant cultural heritage is perishable and at risk. The region’s historical collections are kept in more than two dozen repositories. They are vulnerable to fire, flood, mold, insects, and light. Much of our current knowledge of the collections’ context will be lost if they are not systematically cataloged soon. Furthermore, access to these historical resources is limited.

Several surveys and planning studies (2012, 2014, 2017) led to a common agenda for cooperative stewardship of the region’s historical archives. By 2017, we were meeting as the “History Trust” and, in 2018, the boards of the eleven initial participating organizations agreed to join as a collaborative, while retaining their own institutional autonomy.

The History Trust incorporated as a Maine nonprofit in 2020 and received 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt, charitable organization in 2021.

Photo: “Fire Chief’s Hat,” Great Harbor Maritime Museum, …view item »