The African American Collection consists of collections of personal papers and archives of organizations active in the African American community of Maine. The bulk of the manuscript collection dates from the 20th century to the present, but a few collections contain items from the 19th century. There are also rare or unique print materials about the community (all 20th century or later) and the book collection of Gerald E. Talbot. The collection focuses on historical sources, excluding creative works of fiction or art, unless such works document the community.
You can view a selection of available digitized items below. Please note that digitization of the African American Collection is ongoing and this selection does not represent the full breadth of our holdings. You can find more information on the African American Collection on our website.
For more information on our processed collections, please search the finding aids.
This collection contains photographs of a group of African American women on vacation in Maine in 1949.
This is an oral history of Nancy Dymond. In 1997, Dymond became the first Maine-born African American person to earn a bachelor’s degree in Education from UMaine to then go on and teach in Maine.
The Cummings family of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, ran a guest house catering to the African American community from 1923 until 1993. During that time, the family kept a register to record the signatures and contact information of their guests. Over the years, the Guest House saw guests from all walks of life, including musical legends like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. This collection includes a fully annotated transcript.
The Griot is the newsletter of the African American Archives of Maine, which is part of the Sampson Center for Diversity at the University of Southern Maine. The Griot highlight pieces in the collection and features editorials from people reflecting on the Archives and the African American legacy in Maine.
Eugene B. Jackson, born in Portland, Maine, was a Tuskegee Airman. Included in the papers are Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, devotional books, family photographs, family papers, periodical articles, and Ruby Family notes.
A studio portrait of a dapper young man wearing a suit jacket and polka dot shirt.
Pedro Tovookan Parris lived with the family of Virgil D. Parris. Learn more about his story here.
Gerald E. Talbot was the first African American to be elected to the Maine State Legislature. He served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978, and worked with the Maine chapter of the NAACP and the State Board of Education. He also took part in the struggle for civil rights in other parts of the country, as well as in Maine. The Collection includes Talbot’s personal papers, records of his term in the Maine House of Representatives, of his work with the NAACP in Maine and with the State Board of Education. The Collection contains books, serials, posters, artifacts, and photographs documenting African Americans in the United States, with an emphasis on Maine.
Home Is Where I Make It
Oral histories of African American subjects in Portland, South Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston-Auburn, Maine.
This collection consists of 11 glazed ceramic figurines depicting Aunt Jemima and Uncle Mose. Objects include kitchen jars, a toothbrush holder, and several salt and pepper shakers. Please note that items in this collection depict racist views that do not align with those shared by the University.
16x12 unframed (reproduction) daguerreotype of the Maxfields, an African American family.
Annual Festival of the Mountfort St. A.M.E. Church [Broadside]. Vestry of the Universalist Church, corner of India and Congress Sts., November 11-12, 1874.
All works in these collections are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Browse The African American Collection:
- African American Collection
- African American Maine Photograph Album
- Cummings Guest House Register
- Eugene Jackson Papers
- Gerald E. Talbot Collection
- Home Is Where I Make It Oral History Project
- Lee Forest Figurines
- Maxfield Family Photograph
- Mountfort St. A.M.E. Church Broadside