Lecture Explores the Lives of Former Slaves who Moved to Maine after Emancipation

Samuel Osborne
Samuel Osborne was born into slavery, and moved to Maine with his family after emancipation. Osborne took a job as a janitor, cleaning every building on the Colby College campus by himself for a few hundred dollars a year. The President’s house on campus is named in honor of Osborne. 

On Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 7:30pm, the Old Berwick Historical Society presents a lecture by Dr. Candace Kanes, “From Slavery to Maine,” a talk based on the exhibit of the same name which she curated for the Maine Historical Society in 2014. The lecture will be held at the Berwick Academy Arts Center in South Berwick. Admission is free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted.

Between the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 and about 1869, formerly enslaved people came to communities throughout Maine to start new – free – lives. With a few exceptions, their lives in Maine have been largely forgotten. Details about them remain mostly in public records and newspaper articles – enough evidence to tell some of their stories.

A number of former slaves, probably several hundred, settled in Maine during and after the Civil War. Some came through the auspices of Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, a native of Leeds and head of the Freedman's Bureau; some with individual soldiers, and others on their own. Letters, photographs, and newspaper articles tell their stories. 

Dr. Kanes, an independent historian and researcher, was the editor and curator of the Maine Memory Network website and author of a number of the exhibits that accompany the essays. She worked at the Maine Historical Society as curator/historian for Maine Memory Network from 2003 - 2015. She holds a Ph.D. in modern American history from the University of New Hampshire and a master's in American and Women's Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has taught history, American studies and women's studies at Bates College, the University of New England, University of Southern Maine, and Maine College of Art. She is a former newspaper editor and reporter and has worked at The Times Record in Brunswick and the Lewiston Sun-Journal and at newspapers in Ohio.

The Old Berwick Historical Society’s 2020 lectures and hikes are generously sponsored by Kennebunk Savings and are supported by historical society members and donors. 

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