Community is typically thought to be a positive force, so why were the residents of Malaga Island evicted from their island homes in 1912? Katherine McBrien, Deputy Secretary of State for Archives at the Maine State Archives, will revisit those tragic circumstances in a Zoom presentation for the Cushing Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
To register, phone Wendy Roberts at 207-691-0833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Malaga Island is one of several in the New Meadows River in Phippsburg. In the 1860s, a mixed-race community began to settle this small, rugged island. According to McBrien, in the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement, a popular theory that the poor, immoral or criminal were born that way, was accepted widely by teachers, heads of state (among others, Teddy Roosevelt), and scientists. The press promoted the idea that the only way to help the island’s poor residents and – not incidentally – improve tourism and prosperity on the Maine coast was to dismantle the community.
Following a visit from then Governor Frederick Plaisted in 1911, the State of Maine ruled that residents must vacate the island, although no alternative homes were provided or even suggested.
Katherine McBride has extensively researched the history of this dark chapter in Maine’s history and organized “Malaga Island, Fragmented Lives,” an exhibition at the Maine State Museum, according to the Library, in a news release.
Before her position at the State Archives, she worked at the Maine Historical Society and the Maine State Museum in their curatorial and and public engagement departments.