University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

LGBTQIA+

The Maine Women Writers Collection documents the lives and relationships of many writers who inhabit the spectrum of queerness or transgender identity. Though some collections have overt queer content, others document the lives and work of people whom we now describe as lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender, or non-binary, though they may not have used these terms themselves.    

Archival Material

Sarah Orne Jewett collection, 1801–1997

Jewett’s career took off with her submission of short stories to William Dean Howells, who put her in touch with James Fields of Boston’s Ticknor and Fields. Fields’s wife Annie and Jewett became close friends. After the deaths of Annie’s husband and Sarah’s father, the two women became companions in a “Boston marriage.” Jewett and Fields’s long relationship is documented in their own letters and is mentioned in correspondence with or among others, including letters by Fields and Mary Rice Jewett dealing with Sarah’s estate after her death.

Mary Ellen Chase papers, 1902-1973

Mary Ellen Chase was an important regionalist writer of the 20th century and spent her career teaching English, first at the University of Minnesota and then at Smith College, from which she retired in 1955. At Smith, Chase met Eleanor Shipley Duckett, who was a medieval history scholar there. The two lived together in Northampton until Chase’s death in 1973.

Miriam Colwell collection, 1945-1998

Born in Prospect Harbor in 1917, Miriam Colwell moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Maine at Orono. A few years later, with her companion Chenoweth Hall, she returned to Maine to take over for her grandfather as Prospect Harbor’s postmaster. With Chenoweth Hall, Colwell enjoyed a stimulating life enriched by artist friends Berenice Abbott, Ruth Moore, Eleanor Mayo, Christine Weston, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and others.

Chenoweth Hall collection, 1952–1986

While Hall’s archives are at the Archives of American Art, we hold a small collection of slides that primarily document personal moments, including outings with Miriam Colwell and other friends.

Ruth Moore collection, 1917-1995

Ruth Moore is one of Maine’s most important regionalist writers. Moore was born on Gott’s Island; she left Maine for several decades but returned to Gott’s Island in 1947, where she lived the remainder of her life with Eleanor Mayo, who is also represented in the Maine Women Writers Collection.

May Sarton papers, 1860-1994

May Sarton’s writing explored themes of solitude, difficulties in love, nature, and the sacred in everyday life. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Sarton primarily published poetry and fiction, including her now-acknowledged coming out novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965). Later in her life, Sarton published many journals that opened up her life to readers. She also published a tribute to her long-time partner Judith Matlack entitled Honey in the Hive (1988). Sarton’s papers contain hundreds of photographs documenting her personal life, in addition to drafts and memorabilia from her life. The MWWC also holds a large portion of Sarton’s personal library.

Phyllis Austin papers, 1944-2017

Phyllis Austin was born in North Carolina and moved to Maine in 1969 to cover the State House for the Associated Press. In 1972, she became the first Associated Press environmental writer for New England. Austin wrote about forestry, land use, public utilities, rural community development, and conservation for the Maine Times and published articles in many periodicals. She co-edited On Wilderness: Voices from Maine (2003) and wrote two biographies: Wilderness Partners: Buzz Caverly and Baxter State Park (2008) and Queen Bee: Roxanne Quimby, Burt’s Bees, and Her Quest for a New National Park (2015). In addition, Austin was an advocate for Death with Dignity laws in Maine. Austin intenionally stopped eating and drinking and died in 2016 at her Mere Point home in Brunswick where she lived with her partner of 25 years, Anne Dellenbaugh.

Donna M. Loring papers, 1956–2016, undated

Donna M. Loring was born in 1948 to Julia Elizabeth Neptune and George Loring, Jr., and is a member of the Penobscot Nation. In 1966, Loring joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), where she served as a Communications Specialist. After returning from Vietnam, Loring graduated from the University of Maine at Orono and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She served as Police Chief for the Penobscot Nation from 1984-1990. Donna Loring served as the Penobscot Nation’s Representative to the Maine State Legislature from 1998-2003 and again from 2007-2008. She published a book about her experience in the Legislature titled In the Shadow of the Eagle (2008). Loring is the President and CEO of Seven Eagles Media. She currently serves in Governor Janet Mills’ administration as the Senior Advisor on Tribal Affairs. She lives in Bradley with her wife Deborah Bouchard. While most of Loring’s papers focus on legislative and Tribal issues, the Writing series contains a series of love poems and other personal writing.

Websites

Sarah Orne Jewett correspondenceThe correspondence with family, friends and business associates gives a view into Jewett's family and social life as well as her life as a writer.