Special Collections

Explore Our Resources: Programs, Publications and Other Resources

Mainers who have worked for civil rights and social justice

Sallie Chandler




Sallie Chandler

Jean Byers Sampson




Jean Byers Sampson

Rita Kissen



Rita Kissen

Allen J. Sockabasin



Allen Sockabasin

Dale McCormick



Dale McCormick

Howard Solomon



Howard Solomon



Gerald E. Talbot



Lifetime Achievement Award


 Gerald Talbot

Presentations of Past Events

Collecting Maine's LGBTQ+ History: Zines & Photographs & Beyond

Panel and community discussion on the politics of creating, collecting and using material culture to examine LGBTQ+ history with Tom Antonik, Robert Diamante and Brody Wood, facilitated by Ryan Conrad. This event was held on April 30, 2016 at the University of Southern Maine and was sponsored by USM's Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine LGBT Collection.

Maine LGBT History:  40th Anniversary Panel Discussion

To commemorate the Ruby (40th) Anniversary year of the founding of the LGBT movement in Maine, this panel discussion was held at Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library, on June 18, 2014.  Panelists share lessons learned and look forward to applying them to the struggles our community still faces. Panel included Steve Bull, Wendy Ashley, Stan Fortuna, Stephen Leo, Lois Galgay Reckitt, Peter Prizer, Chair and Moderator: Susan Mariah Breeding.The event was sponsored by Maine Historical Society, Portland Public Library, Pride Portland, and the LGBT Collection at the Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine at USM and was filmed by CTN 5. The video opens with a photo montage of highlights of LGBT history in Maine by Andy Woodin and Stan Fortuna with music courtesy of Moby.

Schools in Trans*ition: Supporting Trans and Gender Diverse Students in K-12 Education

A panel discussion held at the University of Southern Maine, October 16, 2014, about the daunting array of challenges facing gender-nonconforming young people in public education. Will the school and their fellow students accept their gender identity and support them?  Panel included: Pete Dawson, school administrator; Gia Drew, teacher/coach; Wayne Maines, parent; Zack Paakkonen, lawyer; AJ Yarn, student; and Lisa Bunker, as the moderator. Sponsored by The LGBT Collection of the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine. Co-sponsored by EqualityMaine, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, GLSEN-Southern Maine, MaineTransNet, USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity.

LGBT Elders: The Stonewall Generation Faces the Challenges of Aging

"LBGT Elders: Stonewall Generation Faces the challenges of Aging." Panel discussion held at the University of Southern Maine, April 10, 2014, on the issues facing LGBT elders featuring Doug Kimmel, national co-founder of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and co-chair of SAGE Maine, an advocacy group dedicated to improving the quality of life for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults living in Maine. Other panelist: Daralyn Maxwell, BobBi Keppel, and Lois Galgay Reckitt. Sponsored by the LGBT Collection of USM's Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, and SAGE Maine.

Birney Family Reunion     Part One     Part Two
Members of the Birney family came together to talk about their memories of the Birney girls, their aunts Lois Birney Spear, Elvira Birney, Margaret Birney and Martha Birney from New Gloucester, Maine. This video was created on September 5, 2013 to complement the Birney Family Papers, in the General Manuscript Collection in Special Collections at the University of Southern Maine. The collection includes diaries, photographs, scrapbooks and other material documenting the lives of the Birneys, particularly Martha and Elvira, two sisters  who lived together on a farm in Oxford, Maine (at the time of purchase the property was part of South Paris, Maine).

Changing the Game: LGBT People in High School and College Athletics
A panel discussion with lesbian, gay, trangender, bi and straight individuals sharing their experiences and thoughts on gender, sexual orientation and sports. This event took place on September 19, 2013 and was sponsored by the LGBT Collection of the University of Southern Maine's Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, USM's Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, GLSEN Southern Maine and GO! Athletes. 

Guatemala In Words and Images
Opening reception for the Guatemala Collection, April 25, 2013.

Other-sexual: Beyond Gay and Straight
Panel Discussion held October 17, 2012. A discussion of the spectrum of gender and sexuality and the panelists’ identities, experience, stories, and terminology.  Panel included: Mea, Mike, Jules, Erin, Carly and Lisa Bunker, as the moderator.

Maine's "T" Revolution: How Being Transgender in Maine Has Changed, Is Changing, and Still Needs to Change     Part One      Part Two
Panel Discussion held March, 21 2012. Drawing on their own experiences, panelists explore how far we have come and how far we have yet to go toward full recognition, acceptance, understanding, and support of Maine's transgender population.

Maine LGBT History: Life & Activism in the 70s    Part One   Part Two 
Panel discussion held November 10, 2010, sponsored by the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine.


Catalyst for Change Awards

The Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award was created to acknowledge individuals who have been catalysts for change regarding diversity, equality, human and civil rights in Maine, particularly (but not exclusively) as it relates to the Sampson Collection populations (African American; Jewish; and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender).
This award commemorates the life, work, and values of Jean Byers Sampson.



 etching from Exaltacion de la Divina Misericordia en la milagrosa renovacion de la soberana imagen de Christo Sr. Nro. crucificado

Colonial Mexico and The Catholic Church
View online exhibition of titles printed in Mexico from the Albert A. Howard Book History Collection

 woodcut from Ain gesprech von der Scheynwercken der Gaystlichen und iren gelubbdten

Reformation Books from the Albert A. Howard Book History Collection
View online exhibition of books from the Reformation

Annette Dragon

“Act Up Fight Back Take Pictures: Ten Years of Queer Activism in Maine”
Annette Dragon photographs documenting LGBT activism and article about previous installations

We Still Have a Dream button Political Debate Writ Small : The Art and Rhetoric of the Political Button
Exhibition of political buttons from the Gerald E. Talbot Collection

Gay Side Story: The Musical and its Impact on our Community

In 2018, homage was paid to Gay Side Story, the 1983 version of West Side Story written and performed by members of the LGBTQ+ community as part of the Maine Gay Symposium X. You can see scenes from that performance, watch members of the original cast perform “Gee, Officer Krupke”, and watch the audience engage with a panel of cast and crew to revisit why the performance was important then and how it relates to challenges we face today

Valerie's: Dance, Disobedience, and Activism in Southern Maine

Many residents and visitors to Maine are familiar with Ogunquit's reputation as a "gay-friend;y" seaside destination - a sort of Provincetown of the North. Before openly catering to a gay audience became de rigueur, it was common for establishments to require queer patrons to "play straight" in order to participate. After the arson of a local queer-owned bar called the Stage Door in neighboring Wells, a group of young activists decided to take matters into their own hands by staging an act of public disobedience at Valerie's, a straight-owned supper club in Ogunquit. What followed is a story of compassion, bravery, love, and yes, dance. 


Exhibitions of material in Special Collections by Students


A Book of War: Benjamin Church and King Philip's War
Created by Anatole Brown for American and New England Studies


Small Acts of Courage
Windsor 7, King Middle School

HON101 Race: Reflection, and Reality 

This exhibition was created by students in Rebecca Nisetich’s Fall 2017 Honor's class Race: Reflection and Reality. Each item includes a description written by an undergraduate student (or students).



2005 Annual Event Catalog
The Ties That Bind: Experiences of Family in Maine, 1900-Present

2006 Annual Event Catalog
Liberating Visions: Religion and the Challenge of Change in Maine,1820 to the Present

2007 Annual Event Catalog
'Remember Me?' The Life and Legacy of Jean Byers Sampson

2008 Annual Event Catalog
Diversity at the Ballot Box: Electoral Politics and Maine's Minority Communities, Post-WWII to the Present

Other Resources



Information about USM
Learn more about USM history, including the contents of the 1993 library time capsule, and descriptions of the Portland and Gorham campuses.

Edna F. Dickey and Esther E. Wood

Many items from our collections can be viewed on Digital Commons.