PORTLAND — Denise Scammon of Auburn, an arts & humanities undergraduate at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, has been selected to present her research on the civic engagement of local women in the late 1800s and early 1900s at the Thinking Matters conference, Friday, April 29, at USM.

Thinking Matters showcases high quality student-faculty collaborations; USM LAC Professor Eve Raimon is overseeing Scammon’s research. Scammon, historian of the Woman’s Literary Union of Androscoggin County, has uncovered documents in the club’s archives about its early members that have long been forgotten but that reveal important cultural contributions that have shaped our local society.

From its inception, education has been a big part of WLU’s civic activities. As early as 1898, WLU members started the movement to add kindergarten to the public school systems in Lewiston and Auburn. In 1905, WLU members held a round table with educators and school superintendents to discuss the matter of adding domestic science and manual training to the public school curriculum.

In 1907, WLU members established three public playgrounds in Lewiston and Auburn, purchasing the playground equipment with funds they had raised. The club members maintained the playgrounds and ran recreation programs for local children until the cities took over after several years.

In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt attended a tea given by WLU for the executive board of the Maine Teachers Association. The club’s archives reveal cultural, intellectual, educational and civic activities that can be researched in its meeting minutes, ledger books, correspondence, scrapbooks and photos that date back to the establishment of WLU in 1892. The Muskie Archives at Bates College recently donated archival storage boxes to the WLU for its collection.

Scammon has been instrumental in locating funding for the conservation of WLU’s historical documents so that future generations of members and researchers can enjoy them.

Professor Barry Rodrigue will deliver a file of Scammon’s research as a gift to the Chinese Women’s University in Beijing in June, where he will be speaking about Big History and global intellectual change.

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