Chute-Kellman Maine Militia papers, 1995-2018
Collection Scope and Content
The majority of the collection is composed of correspondence from Carolyn Chute to Peter Kellman, spanning the years of 1995-2018. Chute’s correspondence is wide-ranging in its subject matter–from personal reflections on writing and the politics of publishing to political discussions about corporate personhood and the work of the 2nd Maine Militia. Chute discusses the media portrayal of the 2nd Maine Militia and working class people in general. Chute’s letters are open–exposing personal and family struggles surrounding health, finances and finding the time and space to write.
Though much of the subject matter concerns politics and organizing the 2nd Maine Militia, the letters are also tender and illustrate Chute’s use of humor as a mode of connection and tool for activism. There are drawings by Michael Chute, photocopied cartoons and artwork, and original writings throughout the letters, along with birthday and holiday greetings. In addition to Chute’s correspondence, there is one folder of letters from Peter Kellman to Carolyn and Michael Chute that help to contextualize some of the conversations and references in Chute’s letters. Kellman admits in his first letter that he prefers the telephone, so it seems that much of the conversation between the two likely happened in person. There is a small group of clippings about Carolyn Chute, along with some articles she sent to Kellman and some articles that she authored. There are also a number of folders with documents produced by Chute and Kellman for the 2nd Maine Militia, including “The Document” and “Revolutionary Abby,” and goals of the 2nd Maine Militia.
The 2nd Maine Militia was founded by author Carolyn Chute, labor activist Peter Kellman and artist Michael Chute in 1995. The Militia met periodically until Carolyn Chute disbanded the group in 2009 to focus on her writing. The goals of the 2nd Maine Militia were focused on eliminating the influence of corporations on government, and to educate citizens that their rights were being eroded by the concept of “corporate personhood.”
Kellman authored the Militia’s “First Document,” which demanded the passage of a law limiting the rights of citizenship to flesh and blood persons. The 2nd Maine Militia was a populist organization, with a focus on working class people’s rights. The organization drew its membership from a wide group of citizens–working class Mainers, college educated professionals, liberals and conservatives, libertarians, environmentalists, labor activists, and many others. The 2nd Maine Militia emphasized direct citizen action as a way to preserve democracy. They held rallies in the State House, meetings at members’ homes and public venues where people could discuss issues of importance to the group, and informal events that brought people together socially. Chute referred to her militia movement as the “No-Wing Militia” to differentiate it from militias that were viewed by some as hate groups.