PRESQUE ISLE — The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce the recipient of the Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship for 2021-23: Dr. Kimberly Sebold, professor of history.
The professorship — established in 2013 by former UMPI President Don Zillman and his wife Linda Zillman — is awarded every two years to an UMPI faculty member to assist in research and faculty development. Established with proceeds from a designated fund at the Maine Community Foundation, this is the University’s first rotating professorship.
“We are so pleased to have Dr. Kimberly Sebold serve as the 2021-2023 Zillman Professor,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “Receiving this professorship is an incredible recognition of the research and local history work Kim has conducted over the past many years and it will allow her to continue the important work she’s been doing with our students, historians, and community members.”
“We are so pleased to see Kim continuing a wonderful tradition,” Don Zillman said. “Her work allows history to touch every citizen of the County and to inspire its young citizens to recognize the legacies of generations that came before them.”
Dr. Sebold serves as the fifth Zillman Professor since the professorship was established. Through her Zillman Professorship, Dr. Sebold will continue the work on her major historical project History in Stones: Mapping Cemeteries to Teach the History of Central Aroostook County. The 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 eighth-graders studying Maine history.
Dr. Sebold is working 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. With the help of local volunteer Marlene McEachern, Dr. Sebold was able to map and collect information at about 25 cemeteries last summer. She anticipates that 15 more cemeteries will be mapped this summer.
The information gathered will be archived for future generations using a tool called ArcGIS online that school systems can access for free. Gathering the data will help Dr. Sebold to find and tell important local stories — through ArcGIS story map journals — that make history more relevant and tangible to eighth-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.
She hopes to have the first unit of story map journals and curriculum — about the Micmac people — completed by November. She will be working with the Aroostook Band of Micmacs to ensure that the prehistory and history that includes them is accurate and affirmed by the tribe.
Zillman Professorship 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 map journals, and curriculum development work. Additionally, funds will be used to organize and host workshops for area social studies teachers on the history of Central Aroostook County, the ArcGIS story map journals, cemetery virtual tours and the curriculum and resources that will be made available to them.
Dovetailing the work covered by the Zillman Professorship funds, Dr. Sebold also received a Maine Humanities Council Major Grant of $6,000, which she is using to update her existing Aroostook County History website. The updated website, which will address the Maine State Learning Results for social studies and English language arts, will include scholarly articles on the history of the region, as well as the cemetery maps, cemetery stone photographs, social studies lesson plans, and story map journals.
In addition to all of this work during her Zillman Professorship, Dr. Sebold plans to submit proposals to deliver presentations at the Maine Council for the Social Studies Conference, the New England Historical Association Conference, the National Council for the Social Studies Conference, the American Association for State and Local History Conference, and the National Council on Public History Conference.
“By presenting my work at conferences, I hope to inspire my colleagues to carry out similar work, as scholarly history written for the public is just as important as scholarly history written for other professional historians,” Dr. Sebold said.
The Zillman Professorship is one of several awards and distinctions Dr. Sebold has received through the years in connection with her Maine history work. She received University of Maine System Trustee Professorships in 2009 and 2020 and undertook sabbaticals in fall 2006 and fall 2017. She also sat on the Maine Department of Education Steering Committee for the revision of the Maine Social Study Standards within the Maine State Learning Results.
“I’m honored to receive the Donald and Linda G. Zillman Family Professorship and so pleased that it will allow me to continue this incredibly important work in local history,” she said. “Producing this history in a format that eighth grade social studies teachers can use and the public can enjoy is an important contribution to the community and to public, local, and state history forums. An especially exciting aspect of this work is that it creates a template that other historians can use to focus on the local history of their area and how it fits within the larger context of local, state, national, and world history.”