The following article was originally written as a seminar paper for James Henderson’s colonial history class during Robbins’s brief tenure as a graduate student at the University of Maine. The methodology used in this research was quite innovative when it was written in 1966, as the so-called new social history had only just emerged. This era marked an exciting time in the social sciences, with new methods that allowed the historian to approach history “from the bottom up.” Using census records, land records, tax lists, suffrage lists, and an array of other data, historians were able to uncover what life was like for ordinary workers, women, slaves, the illiterate, and a host of others who had been previously marginalized in the historical record. In this article, Robbins explored the social, economic, and political development of the Lower Saco River region of Maine, guided by the methodology of the new social history. His interest was in uncovering the prevalence of political and economic democracy in colonial Maine. The following article represents the preliminary research he conducted in 1966 in order to determine the potential for further inquiries into this question. Through this research, Robbins unearthed an array of potential opportunities for the historian with access to local records in the towns of Saco, Biddeford, and Buxton, Maine. While not a finished article, this research note raises many issues ripe for additional examination. These issues will be discussed at the end of the article.
Robbins, William G. “Research Notes: Searching for Democracy in Colonial Southern Maine” Maine History 43, no. 1 (January 2007): 79-94.