University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Fannie Hardy Eckstorm collection, 1917-1996

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection contains a small number of reviews and articles (photocopies) about the author and her writings about Maine; also one photo which is a reproduction. There is a reprint of an extract from her 1889 journal, edited by Benton L. Hatch and also a personal letter from him to its recipient, tucked into the reprint.

Biographical/Historical Note

Fannie Hardy Eckstorm was born Fannie Pearson Hardy in Brewer, Maine, on June 18, 1865. Her father, Manly Hardy, was a fur trader, naturalist, and taxidermist from whom she gained an appreciation for wildlife. Fannie Hardy would often accompany her father on trips into the northern Maine woods, where she became interested in the folk songs and folk tales of the lumbermen, hunters, and natives of the region.

At Smith College, her interests were nurtured and developed, and in 1888 she graduated, having founded the college chapter of the Audubon Society. From 1889 to 1891, she was the superintendent of schools in Brewer, becoming the first woman to hold such a position in Maine. In 1891 she wrote a series of articles for Forest and Stream magazine, in which she examined Maine game laws. In 1893 she married Reverend Jacob A. Eckstorm of Chicago and in that same year they moved to Eastport, Maine. They later moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where Fannie Hardy Eckstorm was widowed in 1899.

Following her husband’s death, Eckstorm and her two children moved back to Brewer, and it was at this time that her writing career gained momentum. She contributed to magazines such as Bird-Lore and Auk before 1901 when she published her first two books, The Bird Book and The Woodpeckers. Her next book, published in 1904, called The Penobscot Man, celebrated the lumbermen and river drivers that populated her childhood. David Libbey: Penobscot Woodsman and River Driver (1907) was an in-depth profile of one of those men. The following year she founded Brewer’s public library, and continued to write articles and critiques, most notably a review of Thoreau’s Maine Woods. She started a collaboration with Professor Mary Winslow Smyth of Elmira College in 1925 and they published two books as a result: Minstrels of Maine (1927) and British Ballads From Maine (1929).

Eckstorm’s efforts in recreating and examining Maine folklore secured her place as one of the foremost writers of Maine history. Her interest in the language and culture of Maine’s Native Americans was crystallized in several books, including The Handicrafts of Modern Indians in Maine (1932), Indian Place Names of the Penobscot Valley and the Maine Coast (1941), and Old John Neptune and Other Maine Indian Shamans (1945). She died on December 31, 1946.