By Lesley Parilla, Field Book Project
Friends recently informed me they are going to Maine this June. I have very fond memories of summers there; I hoped to find an excuse to do some reminiscing. Since many of the loveliest destinations in Maine are natural wonders, and I spend most of my time cataloging field work, it seemed appropriate to take a look at what kinds of field work we have documented in the Pine Tree State.
Summer is a prime time of year for tourists in New England as well as for specimen collectors. The states’ woods and coastlines attract many visitors for their natural beauty and have provided “fertile ground” for decades of collecting. We have cataloged 43 field books relating to the state. A substantial amount of that was in the vicinity of popular coastal destinations. So, I thought I would include some details about the field work done along some of my favorite routes in Maine.
Much of the field work I uncovered relates to applied science, completed by the Bureau of Fisheries, to investigate the health of the marine life off the New England coast. Other types included studies of fossils and geological formations (much of the Midcoast region’s terrain is defined by Ice Age glaciers) relating to the US National Museum and in conjunction with the US Geological Survey. Other fieldwork looked in to the flora and fauna towards the interior of the state.
Below is a map indicating some highlights of field work locations.
View Maine fieldwork in a larger map
- April to June 1889 -- Gilbert Van Ingen (under the direction of H. S. Williams) studied paleontology near Moosehead Lake.
- Summer of 1897 -- Frederick True and Daniel Prentiss, Jr., studied in Hancock County -- Brooklin, Walker Pond, and Blue Hill.
- June to August 1899 -- J. B. Henderson studied mollusks in Bar Harbor.
- June 1911 -- Florence Bailey studied birds in Fryeburg Harbor and North Waterford.
- March to May 1913 -- William W. Welsh studied haddock and fish off the coast of Portland.
- May to July 1915 – Welsh studied fishing in Boothbay Harbor and Blue Hill Bay.
- c. 1916 --Isaac Ginsberg studied fishing of the coast of Boothbay Harbor.
- May and December 1955 -- F. R. Fosberg studied plants at Mt. Blue State Park.
- 1943-1947 -- Louis Hutchins studied marine life as part of the United States Navy Buoy Fouling Survey in Portland, Casco Bay, Penobscot, Mt. Desert, and Boone Island.
Hopefully the list above will inspire you to think about your own summer destinations in a new light.
Want to learn more about Maine and the Smithsonian? Check out the Maine Geological Survey page on Maine geology specimens in the Smithsonian.
Also check out Smithsonian Magazine's blog post on oyster middens along the Damariscotta River.