A Maine Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

For most of us, Thanksgiving conjures up visions of food: food made by our mothers and grandmothers in our childhoods. We spend this holiday trying to live up to (or surpass) the meals of our past. Whether you are a traditionalist or a having a Friendsgiving party with people of many backgrounds, our cookbook selection holds some delicious (and interesting) ideas for your Thanksgiving and post-turkey meals.

From Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cookbook (1884), here are some of the basic traditional Thanksgiving staples:

Turkey, plus the all-important stuffing and gravy.

A variety of pies

For some new and interesting side dishes, I consulted Meg Wolff’s A Life in Balance (2010), which offers “plant-based recipes for optimal health.”

You might enjoy a side dish of Beet Slaw or Sweet Turnips:

Perhaps you are looking to re-create some of your mom’s favorite recipes?
Turn no further than the Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (1959), which offers “slick tricks with vegetables” and some delicious apple-based desserts.


For those adventurous readers looking for a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast, you might enjoy a selection of vegetarian options from Barbara Damrosch & Eliot Coleman’s garden to table cookbook The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook (2013).

A nice appetizer

A simple, delicious main course

After all that food, you might need a good digestive tonic tea. Deb Soule’s most recent book How to Move Like a Gardener (2013) offers a simple tea that will help to nourish your body and keep your belly happy after any meal.

Finally, you’ll need some ideas for all that extra turkey.
Here are some traditional ideas from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook.  

Perhaps a more modern inspiration is what your heart (or belly) desires.
Try Kathy Gunst’s Greek-Style Turkey-Lemon-Rice Soup.

There you have it–our round-up of recipes for this foodie holiday. Whether you’re preparing a meal for one or thirty, we hope you feel your appetite for good food and wonderful cookbooks whetted.

If you’re needing a good Maine cookbook, stop by Longfellow Books on Saturday to meet some local authors (including Monica Wood), and check out their wonderful selection of cookbooks.

Our newest social media site

November 14th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

Cuff: Dress Up by Allison Cooke Brown (2007)

This afternoon, we had a great meeting with UNE’s social media strategist about managing all of our outlets. I thought I’d walk away with some ideas for enhancing what we do now; I didn’t think I would add another place to post.
But we remain flexible as things transform around us, so I’m pleased to introduce our new tumblr account.
Please check us out there: http://mewomenwriters.tumblr.com/

And if you’re not already following us on twitter, we’re @MEWomenwriters.
Oh, and we’re on facebook too.
And we’re trying out instagram.

Ruth Moore and the art of the letter

October 10th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

Dear Readers,
I’ve been struggling to find the time to write a blog post for a month, and then once I found a subject, I couldn’t get my words to flow in a neat and orderly fashion. Each sentence I typed felt like a false start, a diversion from what I really wanted to say. I started paragraph after paragraph and then deleted each one in turn. It’s so easy now to erase your thoughts, to soft-pedal and not make what you say count. So here I am today, back at the keyboard, faced with a challenge that Ruth Moore posed to her friend Mary in a letter from 1948, “Well, maybe this one will get a peep out of [her].”

When I went looking for correspondence to highlight in a blog post, I settled on Ruth Moore because it is LGBTQ history month, and I wanted to expose some of our queer content.

In the letter above, Ruth Moore writes to her old friend Mary, a sorority sister from college, to catch up after over a decade. In that time, Moore met writer Eleanor Mayo; they moved to California together and then back to Maine, where they bought 18 acres of land and built a house. Here Moore describes Eleanor Mayo as her “friend,” but they lived together as companions until Mayo’s death in 1980.

Most of the materials we hold as part of the Ruth Moore papers are manuscripts for books, but there are a few folders of correspondence that offer a good view into Moore’s life and relationships. The first few letters I read made me laugh out loud–Moore’s sharp wit and clarity endeared her to me. If you want to read a great collection of her letters, check out Sanford Phippen’s High Clouds Soaring Storms Driving Low: the Letters of Ruth Moore.

The book contains a good selection of Moore’s letters, but the correspondence we hold is not included, so you’ll have to come here to read more gems like this one:

Mary Kamenoff’s responses are quite hilarious in their own right. The two carried on a lengthy correspondence (1948-1989) that covered subjects from literature to family life; one series of letters worth reading is a critique of Mary Ellen Chase’s review of Ruth Moore in the Saturday Evening Post.

One of my favorite openings to one of Mary’s letters mirrors my own state lately: “You will please understand that a failure to express my scintillating thoughts with freshness and vigor is due solely to the inhibitions impressed on me by the machine age.” (July 7, 1962)

Coming to terms with digital preservation

July 11th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

It has been nearly a month since I visited Smith College for a week-long digital preservation management workshop taught by Nancy McGovern and Kari Smith.  I’ve been meaning to sit down and sift through my reflections since then, but it’s been a busy month.

The workshop’s schedule itself was incredibly packed–we arrived on Sunday evening to a nice reception and introductions/overview of the week.  Monday morning, we wasted no time getting to the heart of the work–the 5 organizational stages of digital preservation.  I found out quite quickly that we here at MWWC are just at the beginning of a long road of planning and preparation.  Daunted, but not discouraged, I took in as much as I could, feeling optimistic about having so much information to work with to create a plan for our institution.

By Tuesday morning, I had already begun to see the enormity of the task at hand and worried that this would be like many other trainings I have attended–I would return home energized to do something and realize that I was a bit alone in my fervor for progress.  It’s not that people here don’t care about digital preservation, but there is a certain kind of paralysis that comes up with technology-based initiatives.  We don’t have the expertise, we don’t have the money, we’ll wait until other people have figured out a good solution…  these are all excuses that I hear (and sometimes find coming out of my own mouth) to put off dealing with our born-digital content.

So, instead of returning back to Maine and slipping into a state of near-paralysis, I decided to be proactive.  I’m going to give a presentation to key stakeholders in our unit and lay out the picture of where we are and where we need to be.  I am going to be honest about how much time it will take and how much it will require of us.  I’m convening working group meetings with my staff to figure out what we need to do step by step.  And even if I am the only one who cares about it, I’ll still carry on as best I can because the time is now.

I can’t sit back and wait for anyone else to figure it out.  I’m going to make myself read through the stacks of white papers and power point slides on my desk until I understand how to make this all happen with limited resources and limited staff.  It’s my digital year, and I’m going to make it count, despite our firm place at stage one (see the full article here):
Policy and planning: the preservation policy is often non-existent or may be implicit. Technological infrastructure: may be non-existent or, if it exists, is likely to be heterogeneous…and decentralized…. Content and use: the focus may be reactive to specific collections rather than encompassing the potential scope of materials that need to be preserved.”

We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I look forward to advancing us in our efforts, and to examining the ways that we can use collaboration to solve some of our problems.  Onward!

The Power of Words: Archival Advocacy and Storytelling

May 13th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

Why do archives matter to you?  What value do they have in your life?

If you have no idea how to answer these questions, you are not alone.  Most people have no idea what an archivist does, let alone why what we do matters.  Beyond the experience of seeing or handling “cool old stuff,” very few people could relay an example of how archival materials changed their lives.  That is part of our problem as a profession.

These were some of the rallying points that Kathleen D. Roe, Vice President and President-Elect of the Society for American Archivists, made when she gave the plenary talk at the most recent Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference a few weeks ago on the theme of the future of the archival profession.  Her talk got us all fired up (see the tweets for #marac).

It was 9am and I was staying off-site, so I made a conscious decision to go to the talk, despite my body’s desire to move slowly that morning.  I’m so glad I got myself there.  I felt my energy toward this profession change in the course of an hour. I got there just after the talk began, and was struck by the standing-room-only crowd.  I found a seat close to the front, balancing my coffee cup and my smart phone so I could #livetweet.  Kathleen Roe stood behind a podium draped with a Hunger Games poster to give her talk “Catching Fire: Moving the Profession Forward.”

Over and over, she urged us to have conversations with each other, with her, with our colleagues, with our stakeholders.  She asked us to collect data about how our collections are used, about just why the materials we collect matter at all.  She urged us to go beyond telling the stories of the cool stuff we have in our collections.  “Who cares?” she asked.  Instead, how is the stuff being used to make a difference?

She offered examples of how archives can actually save lives, make significant personal impacts, and change policy.  (You can read a bit about this in an article Kathleen published in Provenance in 2010.)  She challenged us to light a fire to change the profession for the better.  She had helpers handing out matches at the door to anyone who was willing to talk about archives and advocate for their importance.

While it is difficult to think about stories of lives saved by literary archives, I certainly feel a passionate spark for advocacy emerge when I talk about how our archives preserve the voices of women who might otherwise have been forgotten.  Through collections of women’s private and public writing, we are filling in major gaps in the historical record.  Women’s experiences of everyday life tell very different stories than the published accounts we read in history books.  These stories have the power to change people’s minds and to change the ways that we teach history.

I will be asking researchers from now on, “why do these records matter? how did these materials change something for you?”

So, now, let me ask you:  Why do archives matter to you?  What value do they have in your life?