University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Nature and the Environment

The Maine Women Writers Collection has strong holdings in women’s writing about nature and the environment across genres. Researchers will find fiction and poetry, scientific writing and nature observation, conservation studies, children’s literature, and artists’ books that engage with the natural world as a significant theme.

Archival Material

Phyllis Austin papers, 1944-2017

Austin moved to Maine in 1969 to cover the State House for the Associated Press and in 1972, she became the first Associated Press environmental writer for New England. Her career as an investigative environmental journalist flourished when she began to work for the alternative weekly newspaper, The Maine Times, which encouraged the in-depth reporting about forestry, land use, public utilities, rural community development, and conservation that earned Austin her reputation. The collection consists primarily of Austin’s research conducted for various projects, mainly regarding Baxter State Park and in preparation for her book, Wilderness Partners: Buzz Caverly and Baxter State Park (2008). It includes photos, maps, research books and annual park reports. The collection also includes Austin’s articles published in various newspapers and magazines, primarily The Maine Times. 

Susan Hayward collection, 1991–1997, undated

Susan Hayward, is a Maine naturalist involved in educational outreach. She has been a science education consultant for Bates College, a learning associate at Bates and Bowdoin, an instructor in the Lewiston Adult Education program, and a science consultant with the Hughs Science Outreach Grants program/Lewiston Public School Department. This collection consists of nine educational booklets Hayward created for the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary in Lewiston on topics such as fungi, trees, the senses, nature hikes, birds, wildflowers, insects and squirrels. 

Perdita Huston papers, 1936–2007

Perdita Huston spent her professional life advocating for sustainable development and sound family planning worldwide. Throughout her career, Huston was involved in local and international organizations focused on women’s rights and sustainable development, including coordinating the Population and Sustainable Development Program for the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and serving as Director of Public Affairs for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The collection documents Huston’s research on rural women, and includes research notes, interview transcripts, drafts of her writing projects, correspondence from throughout her career, and material on organizations and conferences she was involved with. 

Donna M. Loring papers, 1956–2016, undated

Donna M. Loring served as the Penobscot Nation’s Tribal Representative to the Maine Legislature from 1998-2003 and from 2007-2008. She has also served on the Penobscot Tribal Council. In 2019, Janet Mills appointed Donna M. Loring as Senior Advisor on Tribal Affairs to the Governor. The collection includes material related to the stewardship of the Penobscot River, with a specific focus on water quality, as well as general environmental concerns of the Penobscot Nation. 

Jean Preis papers, 1993-2016

Jean Preis read Dorothy Sanborn’s “Bird Seed” column in The Bridgton News for a year before she moved to Maine. When Sanborn retired from writing her column, Preis wrote a letter to the editor lamenting the absence of the “Bird Seed” column, and The Bridgton News suggested Preis take over the column. She has written more than 500 Bird Watch columns for The Bridgton News. The collection includes 7 bound volumes of Preis’s “Bird Watch” column. It also includes one copy of a 2008 Bird Watcher’s Digest with an article by Preis, and another 1987 copy of Bird Watcher’s Digest with an article by Dorothy Sanborn.

Dorothy W. Sanborn papers, 1946-2001

In 1942, Sanborn moved to Bridgton with her husband and began writing “Up on the Ridge,” a neighborhood column for The Bridgton News. In the 1950’s, she wrote a weekly column for The Boston Post Sunday Magazine, and also began teaching fifth grade. After her retirement from teaching in 1973, Sanborn began writing “Bird Seed,” a column for The Bridgton News, which she wrote for 21 years. Her articles also appeared in Bird Watchers Digest. The collection contains many copies of newspaper articles, as well as book drafts, article notes and short stories.

Linda Tatelbaum papers, 1972-2003

In 1977, Tatelbaum and her husband, Kal Winer, moved to Maine to live simply. They built a solar-powered homestead on 75 acres in Appleton, and over 20 years Tatelbaum wrote several essays chronicling their experiences. Several were published in such periodicals as Countryside, Harrowsmith, and The Maine Times. In 1997 the essays were published as Carrying Water as a Way of Life: A Homesteader’s History. In 1982, Tatelbaum began working part-time as an English and environmental studies professor at Colby College. Her second book, Writer on the Rocks, was published in 1999, and explores how physical labor can contribute to removing metaphysical obstacles such as writer’s block. This collection consists of manuscript material related to her books, poetry, essays, journals related to her teaching and proprioceptive writing.