HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
A Maine Historical Society Website

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About the Project

The Maine Historical Society preserves the heritage and history of Maine: the stories of Maine people, the traditions of Maine communities, and the record of Maine's place in a changing world. The Society was founded in 1822, just two years after Maine became a state, and includes a Museum with changing exhibits that explore a variety of topics related to Maine's past; a Research Library that houses one of the state's largest and most important collections of historical and genealogical materials; the Maine Memory Network, a statewide digital history museum; and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

This website grew out of "The Longfellow Institute," a program for teachers funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and led by scholar Charles Calhoun, author of the recently published biography, Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life (Beacon Press, 2004). Program speakers included museum curators, archivists, and specialists in 19th-century American literature, history, art, architecture, and popular culture.

The focus of the Institute was not only on Longfellow's poetry but also on his cultural impact and legacy in creating such enduring American icons as Paul Revere, Evangeline, Priscilla Alden, and Hiawatha. The teachers also examined the poet's life in the context of his family and his many friends, including Hawthorne, Emerson, Charles Sumner, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Fanny Kemble, and Oscar Wilde.

The Institute was presented in cooperation with the Maine Historical Society, the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, MA; Bowdoin College, and other cultural agencies. This was the first program of its kind in the country, and an original and enduring contribution to the "recovery" of Longfellow in American culture.

The participants (thirty teachers from Maine and Massachusetts) read and discussed Longfellow's work extensively, met regularly with scholars, and visited important Longfellow-related sites and archives. The program culminated with the teachers' own research projects. Each participating teacher did extensive archival research on a literary or historical aspect of Longfellow's work and created the teaching resources featured in the "for teachers" section of this website.

The website is intended to be a comprehensive collection of Longfellow-related information, as well as a resource for researchers, educators, and anyone with an interest in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.