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UMF student helps Maine State Archives prepare for state bicentennial

Madeline Soucie

Madeline Soucie of Auburn, a senior at the University of Maine at Farmington, has spent much of her time recently with the founding fathers who helped put Maine on the path to statehood nearly 200 years ago. Soucie is an intern at the Maine State Archives, where she works with historical letters, journals, documents, and surveyor information to create an online index of original source materials relating to the 1820 Act of Separation of the District of Maine from Massachusetts. 

Maine started as a separate colony in the 1620s, but from the 1650s until 1820 it was a part of Massachusetts. In an effort to pay off its post-Revolutionary War debts to the new U.S. government, Massachusetts raised money by selling off public land in Maine. Maine became the twenty-third state on March 15, 1820.

Soucie’s online index is one of the Archives’ ongoing efforts in preparation for the Maine Bicentennial in 2020. Majoring in history and minoring in political science, she is excited to work with the actual pre-1820 documents.

“They speak to me,” said Soucie. “It’s so important not only to know what happened historically, but also why it happened, how people felt about it, and what they decided to do about it. Being able to read their first-hand experiences is just like being there.”

Interested in a career as an archivist or museum curator, Soucie sees her current internship as an important part of her career development. She found the opportunity with the Maine State Archive through the UMF Partnership for Civic Advancement, a campus resource for experiential learning. She is receiving a stipend through the Partnership funded by a grant from Franklin Savings Bank and is also working with the history department to receive college credit for her work with the Archives. 

UMF’s Partnership for Civic Advancement supports student engagement in community-based activities in Western Maine and beyond that are intentionally designed to be mutually beneficial to UMF students, its community partners, and the communities served.

Her internship is also one of seventeen supported by the “Making History Work” grant, a collaborative University of Maine System multi-campus initiative. Launched this year, the grant provides financial support to history students interested in working in the field. 

Soucie also recently finished an internship at the Norlands Living History Museum in Livermore, where she learned about the Washburne Family, their prominence within state, national, and international politics, and the huge role they played in late nineteenth-century business and industry. Her senior thesis will center on Elihu Washburne, long-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Minister to France, and a personal friend to Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

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