Monday, April 28, 2008

University of Maine Yearbooks Online

Did one of your ancestors or relatives graduate from the University of Maine?

The Prism, the University of Maine’s yearbook, was published for the years 1895 to 1997. In 2004, a University of Maine yearbook with the title Dirigamus was published. No yearbooks have been published since then.

Issues of The Prism vary in content and layout, but seniors are always highlighted. Individual photographs of seniors are arranged in alphabetical order by last name (within each college), and accompanied by information about hometown, major, and fraternity or sorority. Some books also contain photos of members of other classes. Also included are sections on the faculty and administration, campus organizations, athletic teams, Greek societies, and events.

The Prism provides a fascinating peek into the history of the University and the wider world. The 1919 Prism was “Dedicated…To the absent brothers in Arms.” In the WWII years, special sections focused on servicemen, courses on welding and nursing, and defense-related campus activities. Photos of the 1906 Carnegie Library and the just-completed exterior shell of the new library building, later dedicated as the Raymond H. Fogler Library, appeared side by side in the 1944 Prism. In 1955 students armed with shovels and pickaxes gathered “to scratch a path to the Union,” which opened that year.

Yearbooks from the late 1960s on often presented multiple pages of images without any captions. Concerts in 1974 included Chicago, Canned Heat, and Blood, Sweat and Tears. In 1982, the student walkout from classes protesting the low salaries of faculty and staff is highlighted at the front. The penultimate Prism began with the statement “Yearbooks are old-fashioned”!

Although not searchable, the Prisms from 1895 - 1997 are all digitally available online to browse. To access, go to

The yearbook digitization project is sponsored by Fogler Library in partnership with the University of Maine Alumni Association. Acknowledgement of contributions to the project -- a team effort.

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