History for all

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to Bill Horner and Tim Garrity’s proposal set forth in last week’s “Community Forum” regarding the idea of creating a History Trust that would unite the region’s historical societies and organizations.

From the moment I first crossed the bridge in Trenton onto Mount Desert Island 30 years ago, I was drawn to the island and longed to make the island my home. Finally, I found a path that would bring me here.

Sixteen years ago, I moved to Southwest Harbor from Massachusetts, and since that time, I have learned all I can about the island and its various communities of people. I also have become fascinated by the diverse history of the island and all its moving parts, both past and present.

Being a writer and a lover of history, I set out to write, not only about the island I have come to love, but about the history of Southwest Harbor and the small plot of land I bought and on which I have made a home for myself and my family to enjoy and share with others.

I’ve always felt it cumbersome that there are so many small historical societies rather than one more central one where one could gather and sort through all the island’s rich and unique history. When I completed a written history of my house, I found I had to jump from “society to society” to gather all the information I was interested in compiling.

Each group was friendly and welcoming to some extent, but I also could sense that the boundaries and borders were drawn rather clearly around each organization. In that perhaps unintentional way, I felt I was an outsider to each group.

I think it would be a great idea to unify all 22 (or more) societies under one protective roof. Local people and descendants of each area on the island have a very tightly knit physical and spiritual bond to their places and to the people who have lived in those places for generations.

While I understand they may not wish to open everything up to everyone who comes and goes on our island community, it would be important, on the other hand, to have one central place where information is preserved and protected and where stories, pictures and history is available to everyone.

In Horner’s article in the most edition of “Chebacco” (a magazine offered by the Mount Desert Island Historical Society) he poses the question: “Is history a commodity that someone can own? Or are we merely its stewards?”

From my viewpoint, history belongs to everyone and should be shared accordingly, making good use of every opportunity we have at our disposal to share it collectively

In today’s world of technological advances, it would be unfortunate to miss the opportunity to better preserve archival collections and to share those collections more aptly with anyone interested in the vibrant history of MDI.

For people like me, history calls us forward and nurtures the spirit. For me, anything that would help open up the history of the island for greater sharing would be welcome and would be something I would like to be part of.

A more unified consortium of collecting and sharing historical information in the future would not only help us become better stewards of the history we have in common, but it also would help us all listen more closely and carefully to the voices of the past.

Mary Holoway

Southwest Harbor

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