Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 25 : Summer 2015 - Page 71

Once she had partially completed the inventory, Donahue has been processing the boxes to determine what the library should keep and what it should discard. She said the library wants to protect the privacy of individuals who wrote to Martin, so she plans to offer anything that contains personal and confidential information pertaining to constituents back to Martin. it was a useful tool in his history class. “I was just so excited about the historical insights that are in there. It was neat to give my students in my class a taste of that,” he said. “He played such a huge role in contemporary politics, and I think John Martin is such a fixture up here, but people may not recognize his influence on the greater Maine political environment.” As a historian, President Hess said he has an interest in working with the collection. “The opportunity to potentially play a role in the editing of the John Martin Papers would be an enormous honor and privilege if I could arrange for that to happen,” he said. Among the topics people will eventually find in the collection are documents related to Martin’s work to set up veteran nursing homes in Maine, including the ones in Caribou and St. Francis. There are documents related to the “One picture you get is how much he helped acquisition of the old armory for the university people.” said Donahue. Martin received to use, the establishment of the Acadian thousands of requests for help, and Donahue Archives and the development of the psyche unit at Northern Maine Medical Center. said it appears he responded to all of them. Opinions of Martin as a person and as a politician vary widely. Many people hold strong Hess said he regards the John Martin papers negative views of the powerful politician, and as a valuable addition to the legacy of the others are staunch defenders of John Martin. university. “This is the type of thing scholars The documents, according to Donahue, travel to study. It’s really quite a coup for the town of Fort Kent and the university.” present a more nuanced picture. The John Martin Papers, according to Donahue and others, constitute a living history stretching across half a century. “I can’t think of a more complex political career in the state,” she said. Before receiving permission to inventory the documents, the university kept the collection in the attic above the gym under a plastic tarp. Donahue received written consent from John Martin to inventory the collection in 2010. Once the material came to the library, Donahue began inventorying the documents from January of 2010 until April of 2012. Martin signed over the papers to the library through a Deed of Gift in August of 2012. After the inventory, she began processing the papers for items to keep or discard. After the processing, someone will have to catalog the material so scholars can use the collection for research. Martin appeared indifferent whether the papers might change some people’s opinions of him. He said, “I follow the motto of Edmund Muskie. If you try to please everyone all the time, you are not doing your job.” Martin said he hopes people will come away with one lesson from the papers. He said, “I think they will be surprised to some degree on how one person can make a difference if they work at it.” Donahue left the Fort Kent area after the spring 2015 semester. She said someone else will need to process and then catalog the papers, noting it is important that the person who comes after her have a strong working knowledge of recent Maine history and Maine politics, be able to recognize names of state personalities, and also know local history and names. The person must recognize what to keep, discard, One educator has already featured the collection or send elsewhere. “The fact is, archival work is in a lesson. UMFK President Wilson Hess said an art and a science,” Donahue said. SUMMER 2015 69