The African American Collection preserves the history of African American communities in Maine. It does so by collecting material produced or collected by organizations and individuals. The collection was created when Gerald E. Talbot donated his papers to the University of Southern Maine. He gathered not only items related to his life and career, but also materials significant to black and marginalized communities in Maine and beyond.
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.

Digitized Items


African American Maine Photo Album This collection contains photographs of a group of African American women on vacation in Maine in 1949.

The Cummings Guest House Register 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.

Eugene Jackson Photographs
Eugene B. Jackson, born in Portland, Maine, was a Tuskegee Airman.

Photographic Portrait of African American Male
A studio portrait of a dapper young man wearing a suit jacket and polka dot shirt.

Photographic Portrait of Pedro Tovookan Parris
Pedro Tovookan Parris lived with the family of Virgil D. Parris. Learn more about his story here.

Gerald E. Talbot Collection
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.

Lee Forest Figurines
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.

Maxfield Family Photograph
16x12 unframed (reproduction) daguerreotype of the Maxfields, an African American family.

Mountfort St. A.M.E. Church Broadside
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.


Creative Commons License
All works in these collections are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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