University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Joyce Butler collection, 1969-2014

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection consists mostly of published articles and essays on Maine history, written by Butler between 1970-1986. Also included are promotional material and reviews for her published books, and one folder of biographical material.

Biographical/Historical Note

Joyce Butler was born in Portland, Maine on June 27, 1933. She graduated from Westbrook Junior College in 1953 and in 1955 earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Boston University. She was married that same year to Robert Butler, and the couple moved to Kennebunk in 1967. Raising her three children and restoring their old house gave Butler plenty of writing inspiration. She approached the editor of The York County Coast Star with a short piece about the house, and she was subsequently asked to write a regular column. She continued this column for ten years, detailing her experiences as a housewife and mother in small town Maine.

Her first book, Pages from a Journal (1976) is a collection of these writings. In 1974, she began a second column for The Star on Kennebunkport history. Her fascination with local history culminated in a position as archivist at the Kennebunkport Historical Society, which she held from 1975 to 1979. Her most well known book, Wildfire Loose, was published in 1978, and is an account of the 1947 fire of Maine. The book was chosen as one of Maine’s 100 distinguished books by the Baxter Society’s 2001 Maine bibliography, Mirror of Maine. Additionally, Butler served as curator of manuscripts and exhibitions at the Brick Store Museum from 1980 to 1995, was appointed town historian for Kennebunk in 1990, and was curator of museum collections at Maine Historical Society from 1996 to 2000. Butler is also a prolific freelance writer, with poems and stories published in magazines and newspapers such as York County Coast Star, Down East, Maine Life, Lady’s Circle, Chapters in Local History, and Log of Mystic Seaport.