Maine Women Writers Collection celebrates 60 years

MWWC Director Jennifer Tuttle addresses the audience at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Maine Women Writers Collection
MWWC Director Jennifer Tuttle addresses the audience at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Maine Women Writers Collection, held at the UNE Portland Campus’ Abplanalp Library on June 14.

June 26, 2019

Special guest reader, the renowned Maine writer Monica Wood
Special guest speaker, the renowned Maine writer Monica Wood
MWWC Curator Cathleen Miller read a remembrance of MWWC co-founder Dorothy Healy from ‘A Passionate Intensity: The Life and Work
MWWC Curator Cathleen Miller reads a remembrance of MWWC co-founder Dorothy Healy from ‘A Passionate Intensity: The Life and Work of Dorothy Healy’ by Francis M. O’Brien.
Shelley Cohen-Konrad, Ph.D., LCSW, FNAP, director of the School of Social Work, reads a poem by May Sarton. Cohen-Konrad was joi
Shelley Cohen-Konrad, Ph.D., LCSW, FNAP, director of the School of Social Work, reads a poem by May Sarton. Cohen-Konrad was joined by other UNE faculty and staff in reading works from favorite Maine women writers. Readers included Elizabeth De Wolfe, Ph.D., professor of history; Bobby Gray, M.L.S., HA ’00, research and teaching librarian; Holly Haywood, B.F.A., university photographer; and Cally Gurley, L.L.I.S., special collections librarian, whose upcoming retirement was celebrated at the event.

In the same year that Mattell introduced the Barbie Doll and only 35 percent of college students were female, two Westbrook Junior College (WJC) instructors made a pioneering step in the field of women’s literary studies. Grace A. Dow, chair and professor in the Department of English at WJC, and Dorothy M. Healy, a WJC teacher and administrator, founded the Maine Women Writers Collection (MWWC) in 1959 in order to celebrate and preserve the contributions to Maine culture and literature made by women writers. It was one of the first, if not the first, collections of its kind in the country.

On June 14, 2019, a packed crowd gathered in the Abplanalp Library on the Portland Campus to celebrate the MWWC’s 60th anniversary. The event showcased examples of the material in the collection through a short series of readings and included works by May Sarton, Estella Deering, Donna Loring, Ruth Moore, and an anonymous suffragist. Special guest reader Monica Wood, a bestselling Maine novelist and memoirist, shared an excerpt from an essay by Kate Douglas Wiggin about her childhood encounter with Charles Dickens.

In her opening remarks, the collection’s director, Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health, recognized the progressiveness and vision of the collection’s co-founders. “Before the resurgence of the Women’s Movement in the United States, before the advent of women’s studies, Dow and Healy saw that Maine women’s writing should be honored, preserved, and made available for study and enjoyment,” she said. “In short: they took women and their writing seriously.”

Groups audience: 

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