History/ES 247 Reading Guide

Community History

As you read this semester about many communities in Maine, over time and space, try to keep in mind a number of questions about community:

  • What is “community”? What do the inhabitants of communities expect and understand? Do those expectations change over time? What causes those changes?
  • What determines the particular values, sets of associations, and systems of hierarchy of community, and how do these shape the experience of community? What can historians bring to the discussion and analysis of community?
  • What does an environmental perspective—about nature, ecology—bring to the discussion? What are the consequences of ignoring that perspective—the “environmental field”—when talking about “place”?

Darrett Rutman’s essay offers a historiographical review of 25 years of local and community studies of early America:

  • What instructions does he offer for making generalizations from these particularized studies?
  • What have historians learned about community in early America? What models of community do they offer?
  • Although he talks about “place” and “patches of ground,” does Rutman bring a consideration of environment and environmental change to his comparison and analysis? How might an environmental perspective shape his assumptions about “the apparently unchanging”?
  • Why have historians taken so long to consider the importance of the environment? Why have they focused on change across time and across space, but not on space/place?


View of Auburn

View of Auburn & Lewiston,  from Auburn Heights.  (c. 1912)

  • Dear Edith   I have just written a card to Susie and will drop you a line   We had a fine time at the reunion Tuesday and enjoyed it very much. Lizzie Curtis was visiting at Kezer Falls and went up to see Susie. Grace had gone up there to spend two weeks while Bert was fixing up their house on the farm and was taken sick with pneumonia and before she was able to sit up Susie was taken down with it and was very sick when she was there three weeks ago but have heard since she was better. We are nicely. Nancy is here also Connie & Ella.  E
South Paris

Market Square, South Paris, Maine  (c. 1908)

Columbia Falls

Columbia Falls Me.  General View.  (c. 1907)

  • Am at Medomak. Came on Friday instead of Tuesday as I wrote you I should. Mr. Wallace met me at Waldoboro and brought me down here. It was a horrid old night a thick fog that was almost a rain all the way down. And in the evening just after Mr. W. started for home we had a heavy shower. He must have got drowned. Am looking for a letter.  Ella