News & Events

Dr. Sebold receives $50,000 King Foundation grant

Dr. Kimberly Sebold, University of Maine at Presque Isle Professor of History, has received a $50,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to help preserve the cemeteries and history of central Aroostook County. This work is part of Dr. Sebold’s multi-year project History in Stones: Mapping Cemeteries to Preserve and Teach the History of Central Aroostook County.

“This grant award from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation speaks to the incredible and expansive work Dr. Sebold has done in the past several years to bring the history of central Aroostook County to life,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “The funding will allow for much more historical work to be conducted so it can directly benefit students, community members, and history lovers anywhere.”

Dr. Sebold’s History in Stones project accomplishes two major goals. It’s the first all-encompassing attempt at scholarly work to capture the history of central Aroostook County, and it establishes a comprehensive local history curriculum for 8th graders studying Maine history. In the past several years, Dr. Sebold has worked with her project team to map the region’s cemeteries with GPS units and collect and photograph the information that appears on each gravestone and marker. There are at least 50 cemeteries in central Aroostook, ranging from large cemeteries to small family plots, and about 40 of them have been mapped so far.

The information gathered is being archived for future generations using a tool called ArcGIS online that school systems can access for free. The data is helping Dr. Sebold to tell important local stories—through something called ArcGIS Story Maps—that make history more relevant and tangible, especially to 8th graders. Dr. Sebold will focus on the lives of specific individuals in area cemeteries to tell the story of Central Aroostook County by explaining how world, national, and state events affected them.

The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation funding will support a variety of project efforts to be completed in 2022. Funds will be used to hire UMPI students, and local historians, teachers, and community members to help complete the cemetery mapping work, data entry, story maps, and curriculum development work. The funding will allow for the cleaning, transcribing, and photographing of 15,000 gravestones in Caribou and Fort Fairfield between May and October. Project workers also will be able to input data—gathered during cemetery fieldwork in the fall of 2020 and the summer and fall of 2021—into a spreadsheet to make searchable ArcGIS Online maps.

Through the funding, project team members also will be able to research and write more ArcGIS Online Story Maps. The history will be told through the lives of the people in the cemeteries as they are linked to larger community, state, national and world issues. In addition, lesson plans will be designed for the Story Maps so that they can be used by social studies teachers in Aroostook County, Maine, and elsewhere.

Dr. Sebold’s History in Stones project has received support from other funding sources, including a Maine Humanities Council Major Grant and the Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship.

“I’m honored to have received this grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation,” Dr. Sebold said. “This project will help town offices, public libraries, cemetery associations, churches with graveyards, veterans’ associations, historical researchers, genealogists, social studies teachers and their students, as well as the general public. And the best part is, it will be accessible to anyone with the website link, for free.”