Mission

The History Trust is a regional alliance that mentors its members, supports collections management, and engages the public with our shared histories.

(revised 15 Nov 2022)

Governing Member organizations of The History Trust carry out our work in communities adjacent to the waters of coastal Maine’s Blue Hill Bay to the west or Frenchman Bay to the east. Not only do these communities have overlap in their histories, but our geographic focus promotes face-to-face interactions and in-person collaboration among collecting organizations. It is our hope that communities in other regions may see our success as a model for similar place-based alliances.

Communities of Blue Hill and Frenchman Bays:
Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Brooklin, Cranberry Isles, Ellsworth, Frenchboro, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Mount Desert, Sorrento, Southwest Harbor, Sullivan, Surry, Swans Island, Tremont, Trenton, and Winter Harbor.
(From Google Earth — Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Landstat/Coperinicus.)

Our vision is . . .

With the ability to access and contribute to the stories of the communities of Blue Hill and Frenchman Bays, historians, students, teachers, families, and other stakeholders of local history will enrich our understanding of this region’s place in time and geography. Through the portals of the History Trust more citizens and leaders can apply historical perspective to modern issues. When reminded how Mount Desert Island, with its natural beauty and with its roots in farming and maritime trades, has inspired both Acadia National Park and world-class scientific research, we see how history strengthens a community’s ability to contribute to economic development. We leave a legacy shaped by an ethos of stewardship and deep appreciation for historical literacy and collaboration.

(revised 15 Nov 2022)

We believe:

  • historical collections should be a community resource;
  • collaboration is key to identifying historical resources and making them accessible through a joint digital archives platform and improved physical access;
  • we stewards of our historical resources help our partners preserve the many strands of the story for future generations;
  • working together, we can define and enact standards of provenance, cataloguing, and care to be accountable to present and future generations;
  • openness, inclusivity, and positivity are hallmarks of our success together.

(adopted 18 Feb 2020)

Stewardship

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 our region’s cultural heritage is perishable and at risk. Our 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 has been limited.

Several surveys and planning studies (2012, 2014, 2017) led to a common agenda for cooperative stewardship for many of the region’s historical repositories. By 2017, we were meeting as the “History Trust” and, in 2018, the boards of eleven groups agreed to formerly join together as an alliance, while retaining individual institutional autonomy. Since then several more participating organizations have joined the effort.

The History Trust was officially 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.