History 2129/EnvS 2449 Reading Guide

Coastal tourism and summer people

  • Dona Brown, Ch. 6, “The Problem of the Summer: Race, Class and the Colonial Vacation in Southern Maine, 1890-1910,” in Inventing New England: Regional Tourism in the Nineteenth Century (1995), 169-199, 241-244.  (e-reserve)
  •  Wescott, History of Harpswell, Ch.14, “The Summer Trade,1820-1920,” 148-160. (e-reserve)
  • Late nineteenth-century magazine reading:
  • Edwin Lawrence Godkin, “The Evolution of the Summer Resort” [compiled from articles published in The Nation: “Cottagers and Boarders,” No. 897 (Sept. 7, 1882), 196-197; “The Evolution of the Summer Resort,” No. 942 (July 18, 1883), 47-48; “Boarders’ Rights on the Seashore,” No. 945 (Aug. 9, 1883), 111-112; “The Last Retreat of the Boarder,” No. 1260 (Aug. 22, 1889), 143-144], reprinted in Godkin, Reflections and Comments, 1865-1895 (1895), 295-308.  (e-reserve)
  • Samuel Adams Drake, Ch. XXII, “In and Out of Bar Harbor,” in Drake, The Pine-Tree Coast (1891), 304-319. (e-reserve)


  • For what kinds of experiences were the boarders, cottagers, tourists, and excursionists searching? What kind of history were summer people seeking? What “nature” were they seeking?
  • How was the evolution of the vacation industry an environmental story? How was it particularly a Maine environmental story? How did Maine’s disadvantages for maintaining what had been a farming, fishing, shipbuilding, and seafaring economy (when they had difficulty competing with New York and Midwestern grain farmers, Massachusetts and Canadian fishermen, and iron shipbuilders) become advantages for a tourism and service economy?
  • To what extent was the rise of tourism a class story?
  • Dona Brown’s chapter in many ways is a literary excursion. What was William Dean Howells looking for, and what did he find in Kittery? What was the appeal for him of the Piscataqua River towns? What was the “problem of the summer”?
  • What is Richard Wescott's primary focus in his chapter on "Summer Trade, 1820-1920"?  Why?  What other questions might he have asked?
  • In his various editorials on cottagers, boarders and the “evolution” of the summer resort [at Bar Harbor], what most concerned Edwin Lawrence Godkin?  Did his concerns change over time?  How did Samuel Adams Drake describe the “transformation” of Bar Harbor? How did the environment and the year-round residents of Bar Harbor fit into their vision of this coastal town?