University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Health Resources

Many of our collections and books touch on the subject of health in some form. This guide highlights resources that have a specific focus on health, but researchers should also investigate sources of personal writing like diaries, letters and scrapbooks for glimpses into the everyday struggles with wellness and illness that women experience over the course of a lifetime. Diarists write about their mental and physical states and report local illnesses and deaths. While health may not be the main focus of these types of writings, they offer valuable perspectives on how people cared for their bodies and minds in a particular time period.

Archival Material

Martha A. Hall collection, 1998–2003

Martha Hall was a multifaceted artist who made books that explored her experience of living with cancer. Hall’s collection offers a view of her artistic process, as well as the deep emotional toll that living with chronic disease takes on a person’s body, mind and spirit. Hall wanted her books to be available for the public, cancer patients, and medical professionals to use. Hall said that her books helped her heal, that they were a way for her to explore the importance of living life fully.

Isabelle Maria Hoffses diaries, 1862–1908

Born in the Waldoboro, Maine area in 1831, Isabelle Maria Hoffses was the second of eleven children born to James Hoffses and Hannah Heaver. After attending South Hadley Seminary in Massachusetts, Hoffses taught in the Waldoboro area for many years. These six diaries, written by Hoffses between 1862 and 1908, primarily record her deep concerns about her spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical health.

Perdita Huston papers, 1936–2007

Perdita Huston spent her professional life advocating for sustainable development and sound family planning worldwide. Her books focus on rural women’s experiences with family planning. Huston’s papers document her interviews and research with many women from around the world about their lives, in addition to her research on topics that impact women’s health. The collection also documents her end of life decisions and her death from ovarian cancer.

Mattie Fletcher diaries, 1911-1920

Mattie Fletcher of Jay, Maine wrote in her diary religiously. One of the interesting aspects of her diary entries is that she often mentions visits she makes to a doctor with her mother. The two women are treated by a female doctor fairly regularly, with sometimes quite unusual remedies. Mattie Fletcher also writes about family illnesses and the ill-health and deaths of local community members.

Mildred McKinley Abele papers, 1912-1948

Mildred McKinley studied nursing at Cary Memorial Hospital in Caribou, Maine, and later worked as a nurse in New York City. This collection includes personal correspondence, examination notes from nursing school, earlier education materials, graduation certificates as well as a diary and bank book. The correspondence begins in her first year as a probationary nursing student (1927) at Cary Memorial Hospital. These letters follow her educational experiences and chronicle her search for work in depression era America. The letters give insight into the life of a nurse working during the first half of the 20th century.


Dorthea Lynde Dix pamphletsThese pamphlets are related to Dorothea Dix’s work on behalf of society’s disadvantaged and war veterans as recorded in Congressional testimony. In addition is a tribute to Dix written in the 20th century.

Sarah Orne Jewett correspondenceThis small representation of Jewett's correspondence covers a range of topics, including health, weather, daily life, travel and the death of loved ones. There are many more items in the Jewett collection that have not been digitized.