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Bowdoin Preservation Collective digs into Bowdoin and Maine’s rich history

April 12, 2024

Andy Robinson
PASSION FOR PRESERVATION: The Bowdoin Preservation Collective explores the history of Bowdoin and the Brunswick area through archival research and learning in a way that is accessible to all.

Seeking to acknowledge the lack of student awareness surrounding the history of the land on which Bowdoin resides, Andy Robinson ’27 and Grace Campbell ’27 decided to charter the  Bowdoin Preservation Collective. The organization will offer students an accessible and open space to educate themselves on the intricate history of the College and the state of Maine.

Campbell noted that a main reason why they wanted to create this club is to provide an inclusive space for people to explore historical preservation in a way that is approachable for history fanatics and casual enjoyers alike.

“I feel like it’s really important to know the history of the land that we reside on. And I think being able to get as many people involved and knowledgeable about that is kind of our goal,” Campbell said.

Campbell emphasized that rather than being a space for students to share their historical knowledge, the leaders want the club to highlight the surrounding, local communities.

“It’s also a lot about culture and community. What we’re doing is not just about history or facts. It’s the way we interact with the community around us. And that’s actually very important, even for those who aren’t necessarily super interested in the historical minutiae of what’s happened,” Campbell said.

The Bowdoin Preservation Collective was founded in collaboration with the McKeen Center and  works very closely with the Pejepscot History Center as their community partner. One of the group’s first outings was a private tour of the Skolfield-Whittier House, which was followed by a hands-on experience with documents in the Pejepscot History Center that are typically inaccessible to the public. The club also has received access to the online collections of the History Center through this collaboration.

“[We] got to be hands-on with the Pejepscot History Center’s collections. So you know, some of the stuff that they don’t display, like jackets, coats, hats from the 1700s, 1800s, some documents…” Campbell said. “I handled a letter that Joshua Chamberlain wrote; that was really cool. And then we got a one-on-one tour in the Skolfield-Whittier House, which [they] usually charge money for,” Campbell said.

In the future, the club has plans to continue working with the Special Collections & Archives at Bowdoin to also look at historical records within the College. They hope to organize historical walking tours on campus about the College’s history on Wabanaki land.

“We hope to work with the political historical center and special collections to put on an exhibit perhaps about Bowdoin’s land history and the land deals that have gone on here,” Campbell said. “We hope to integrate that also with a walking tour that might be put on a Family Weekend or Homecoming Weekend.”

Campbell also expressed how in the future the club plans to host various other trips to different historical centers, museums and sites like the various lighthouses around Maine. One of these trips took the club to the Joshua Chamberlain House and the Skolfield-Whittier House last Saturday. Club member Janelle Powell ’27, who attended the trip, hopes to continue participating in the Preservation Collective’s future programming.

“The trip to the Pejepscot Archives was a wonderful and exciting experience. As members of the Collective, we were permitted to explore the building and see artifacts not generally open to the public. It was exciting to see a home right in Brunswick preserved as the residents might have enjoyed it. I’m excited to become more involved with the history of Brunswick through the Bowdoin Preservation Collective,” Powell said.

Overall, Campbell emphasized that creating an accessible space for those who want to learn more about and explore the history of Maine and Bowdoin in this new club drives her passion.

“I think that’s what it is for—helping to preserve [history] for the next generation. So people, young people like me, can also feel that excitement and joy through learning about the past,” Campbell said.

Andy Robinson is a member of the Bowdoin Orient.


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