Posts Tagged ‘Malaga Island’

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Malaga Island

March 30, 2021

Resources available

The Maine State Museum is a wealth of information for teachers of all content and grade levels. One topic that they have excellent resources on is Malaga Island. The story of the island and the people who lived there have been of interest to me for some time.

If you’re not familiar with Malaga it is a 41 acre island located near Phippsburg at the mouth of the New Meadows River in Casco Bay. It was the site of an interracial community from the Civil War until 1911, when the residents were forced to leave their homes.

From the Maine State Museum webpage

By July 1, 1912, the community on Maine’s Malaga Island ceased to exist. The State of Maine had evicted the mixed-race community of fisherman and laborers in order to clear the small coastal island of “It’s Shiftless Population of Half-Breed Blacks and Whites”, as one 1911 newspaper article described it. The mixed-race community was controversial in the state; many people saw the island as an ugly mark on the pristine beauty of Maine’s coast. After years of well-publicized legal battles, the state succeeded in removing the community of around forty people, committing eight to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. By the end of 1912, all visible traces of the community disappeared – houses were moved and the cemetery was exhumed.

Not long ago the museum had a comprehensive exhibit on the community and they’ve been able to include many of the resources online (links below) so we can continue to learn from them.

The museum has also archived 5 lessons which include background info, teaching resources, and photographs from the island settlement. Lessons are located at THIS LINK.

If you have any questions about the museum’s resources please contact Joanna Torow, Chief Educator at the museum at Joanna.Torow@maine.gov.

In addition to the above resources Kate McBrien, Maine State Archivist, presented at the Southwest Harbor Public Library and that recorded presentation is below. At some point there was a shift in the attitude towards Malaga Island. In 2010 Governor John Baldacci visited the island and apologized for the wrong that had been done on the island and to its residents. One of the descendants accepted the apology and communicated how grateful the state of Maine acknowledges the history. You can hear the recording from the ceremony and other stories documented at THIS LINK.

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