Muskie Archives and Special Collections division merge

The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and the Special Collections division of Bates College’s George and Helen Ladd Library have merged and are now housed at the Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, announced Kurt Kuss, curator of rare books, manuscripts and photographs at Bates College.

The merger, according to Kuss, provides the public “one-stop” access to both the historical documents of the late Edmund S. Muskie, former U.S. Secretary of State and a member of the Bates Class of 1936, as well as the 7,000 rare books, 70 manuscript collections and more than 10,000 historical photographs of the college’s Special Collections.

“Under one roof we have a rich collection of historical college documents and photographs that reflect on the history of Bates, Lewiston Auburn and Maine,” Kuss said. “For instance, research on Muskie’s papers that form the core of U.S. environmental legislation as well as hundreds of letters written by environmentalist and award-winning author Rachel Carson can now be done in one building. Everyone should feel welcome to visit and peruse the Archive’s holdings.”

The merger also creates a formal Bates Archives program to document the official administrative records of the college since its 1855 founding.
“Having a college archives is a sign of institutional maturity,” said Chris Beam, Bates archivist. “It means the college recognizes its own history and is taking steps to preserve that history.”

Dedicated in 1985, the Edmund S. Muskie Archives documents Muskie’s career in public service from his first election to the Maine House of Representatives in 1946 to his appointment as U.S. Secretary of State in 1980, as well as his activities after leaving public office. The archives also holds a permanent collection of memorabilia from Muskie’s personal and public life. The collection — one of the largest in the nation on a non-presidential figure — provides students from Bates and elsewhere an opportunity to gain firsthand experience in historical research using primary documentary material.

Among Special Collections are The Dorothy Freeman Collection of letters exchanged between Freeman and Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring”; records of the Freewill Baptists; the Stanton Natural History Collection of ornithology books; and the Maine Small Press Collection, celebrating the artisanship of hand-bound and letterset press books made by Maine book publishers, printers and artists.

The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections at Bates College is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The holdings of the Muskie Archives and Special Collections may not be checked out, but are available to the public for use inside the building. Contact Kuss or Beam at 207-786-6354 for more information, or visit the Muskie Archives online at <>.

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