History 332

Bowdoin College:  The beginnings to the 1830s

  • Charles Calhoun, A Small College in Maine:  Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin (1993), Introduction, Chapters 1-4, xiii-119. (Reserve) or at Internet Archive
  • Document from Special Collections: request and read one or more documents that pertain to the founding and early history of Bowdoin College.


  • Which aspects of the Calhoun’s early history of the college most interested or intrigued you?   Did you expect that interest, or were you surprised?  To what extent was your interest influenced by Calhoun’s narrative of peoples, places, and events? 
  • About which circumstances, events, and/or individuals would you like to know more?  About which do you now know more than you think necessary?  
  • In his introduction, how does Calhoun describe the process that produced this book for Bowdoin’s bicentennial?   How does he present the purpose and goal of his history, and how does that purpose shape his presentation and interpretation?  How does he explain the choices that he made in organizing and focusing his 200 year history of the college?  How does his focus and method complement the community focus of our course?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of his choices?
  • In what ways does Calhoun present his account as a “community” history of Bowdoin?  How does he weave that history into a history of Maine, and of the nation—and why?
  • What sources from the Special Collections archives did you examine? How do those support, further illuminate, or perhaps challenge Calhoun’s discussion and interpretation?

Map:  Bowdoin and Colby land grants