History 2129/EnvS 2449 Reading Guide

Farming on the Maine Coast

  • William N. Locke, "Research Note: The Rise and Demise of the Cattle Pound, Harpswell and Maine," Maine Historical Society Quarterly 33.3-4 (1993-4), 210-221.  (e-reserve)
  • David C. Smith, Victor Konrad, et. al. (Helen Koulouris, Edward Hawes, Harold W. Borns, Jr.), "Salt Marshes as a Factor in the Agriculture of Northeastern North America," Agricultural History 63 (1989), 270-294.  (e-reserve)
  • Thomas Hubka, “Farm Family Mutuality: The Mid-Nineteenth-Century Maine Farm Neighborhood,” The Farm (Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1988), 13-23. (e-reserve)
  • Wescott, History of Harpswell, Ch.13, “The Second Century of Farming, 1820-1920,” 137-147, Ch.19, “The Decline of Farming, 1920-1950,” 208-211


  • According to Locke, why might coastal towns (and islands) have had particular need for cattle pounds at the end of the 18th century? Why did the problem decline after the 1880s?
  • What kinds of “improvement” and “development” in agricultural practices and goals did Maine farming families and farming communities achieve during the nineteenth century?  What strategies did they follow—individually, in local neighborhood and community networks, and regionally—to support themselves?
  • How did the participants view their endeavors?
  • Were these experiences and strategies peculiar to Maine or did they represent New England regional strategies more broadly?
  • What do these authors emphasize about the ecological and climatic conditions on the Maine coast?
  • How do the agricultural methods and practices that Hubka describes compare to the description of salt water farming that Smith et.al. present?
  • What does Wescott's description of the second century of farming in Harpswell, 1820-1920, contribute to these discussions of change and continuity over time?
  • Based on these studies, can we reconstruct salt-water farming household economies on the coast, and especially the combination of fishing/maritime activities, salt marsh farming, and upland farming.