Special Collections is proud to announce the acquisition of the Harland H. Eastman Collection, consisting of late 19th and early 20th century books for children. His gift of more than twelve hundred volumes includes works by Jacob Abbott, his brother John S.C. Abbott, Elijah Kellogg, Sophie May (Rebecca Sophia Clarke) and her sister Penn Shirley (Sarah Jones Clarke), Kate Douglas Wiggin, and her sister Nora Archibald Smith. All of the authors have Maine connections.
Jacob Abbott, born in Hallowell and best known for his Rollo books, was America’s first great author of juvenile literature. Virtually all of his two hundred books are in the Eastman collection including many volumes of great rarity. Jacob was born in Hallowell, attended Bowdoin College and died in Farmington in 1879. John S. C. Abbott, born in Brunswick and educated at Bowdoin, collaborated with his brother in writing Abbotts’ Biographic Histories. While in the White House, Abraham Lincoln praised them with these words, “To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge that I have.” Elijah Kellogg, a Portland native who was also educated at Bowdoin, was pastor in Topsham and Harpswell and wrote twenty-nine books for boys.
The Clarke sisters, Rebecca Sophia and Sarah Jones, who wrote under pen names Sophie May and Penn Shirley, respectively, were born in Norridgewock. They lived there together for most of their lives, producing magazine articles and children’s books. Rebecca wrote series books with such characters as “Little Prudy,” “Flaxie Frizzle,” and “Dotty Dimple,” which influenced several generations of young readers. Kate Douglas Wiggin and her sister Nora Archibald Smith spent their childhood in Hollis, Maine and returned there after becoming successful authors, purchasing a beautiful and stately home on the Saco River. They called it “Quillecote” and used it as their summer residence. Kate’s most famous book was undoubtedly Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Eastman, a 1951 graduate of Colby who later earned a degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, has had a long diplomatic career which included posts in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. After his retirement he settled in southern Maine where he is Chairman of the Sanford Historical Committee, President and Founder of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society, and creator of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum. He is the author of five books on local history, a long-time trustee of Maine Historical Society and actively involved in local and state-wide historic preservation. He has been a collector of old and rare books all of his adult life.