Mount Desert, ME, April 28, 2017 – Fifteen independent local organizations on Mount Desert Island (MDI) that maintain historical collections are coming together in a partnership with Maine-based HistoryIT. They will undertake a planning effort to determine how MDI historical archives can be protected, cataloged, digitized, and made more accessible for exploration and discovery by the public.



The result will be a plan for a History Trust, which would offer the ability to maintain independent collections while benefitting from collective preservation and digitization efforts. Libraries, historical societies, museums, and other historical organizations throughout the region will be able to take part in the History Trust. A generous gift from the Charles Butt Foundation is making the partnership and planning effort possible.



Friends of Island History (FOIH), a collaborative umbrella of MDI-based collecting organizations, commissioned the yearlong planning study to discover how the cultural legacy of the region can be saved for future generations. Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine and is home to Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor, drawing millions of visitors from around the world each year.



“Telling the collective story of MDI in a way that will be relevant for generations to come is essential to our community’s past, present, and future. We are excited to work with HistoryIT to make our vision a reality,” said FOIH head Bill Horner.



HistoryIT, a leading digital history company, provides a new approach to making historical collections more accessible, discoverable, and useful. An international company headquartered in Portland, Maine, HistoryIT brings industry-leading expertise to preserve historical collections of all types and sizes and to make them easily accessible to audiences ranging from scholars to the general public. Headed by Ph.D. historian Kristen Gwinn-Becker, HistoryIT has undertaken major digital strategy projects, not only for FOIH, but also for organizations of national stature including the Historical Society of Washington, DC, Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.



“FOIH is planning for the future and we are so happy to help make it happen,” Gwinn-Becker said. “We will build a roadmap to organize and digitize these collections so they can be enjoyed by the general public and used to tell the incredible stories found in MDI’s collective history.”


The following organizations have committed to take part in the study: Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor Historical Society, College of the Atlantic, Great Cranberry Island Historical Society, Jesup Memorial Library, Maine Seacoast Mission, Mount Desert Island Historical Society, Northeast Harbor Library, Seal Cove Auto Museum, Swan’s Island Educational Society, and Tremont Historical Society. In addition to these confirmed organizations, others are awaiting consideration and approval by their boards.



About Friends of Island History:

FOIH is a collaborative of Mount Desert Island-based collecting organizations, a group that includes most of the historical societies, museums, and libraries, along with Acadia National Park and College of the Atlantic. Formed in 2010, FOIH has undertaken several major projects, including the digitization of island newspapers dating from 1881 to 1968, an initial conservation assessment of the various island historical collections, and a demonstration project to show the utility of an electronic catalog that would enable a user to search all the island collections via a common web portal.