Honoring exemplary contributions

to the public humanities

Every two years, Maine Humanities celebrates how people in Maine have contributed to the public humanities—by going deep within their communities and regions, or by reaching the whole state. 

Through Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize (named for the first female president of a public university in Maine) our honorees foster agency, connection and engagement; emphasize and/or increase diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice; and represent or engage with communities that have traditionally had the least access to humanities resources.

2024 Prize-Winners

Awarded to a Maine resident who has connected and empowered people in Maine through the public humanities.

Recipients are selected by the Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize Selection Committee, which is made up of people with strong ties to the public humanities in Maine. Recipients are selected in alignment with Maine Humanities’ Prize Criteria, Equity Statement, and Strategic Plan.

Portland Poet Laureate

For their powerful creation of safe spaces for discussion and art, ensuring that people engage with empathy, community, and understanding. 

Associate Professor, Bates College

For his innovative leadership in conversations around art, his care in connecting audiences, and the breadth and depth he brings to his creative projects. 

past constance h. carlson prize Winners

Joseph Jackson, 2022

For his theater programming for kids at Long Creek, his efforts using poetry and other forms of the humanities to reform the justice system, and his role as advisor in the Freedom & Captivity initiative.

Carol Dana, 2022

For her lifelong work to bring back, preserve, and teach the Penobscot language, and her work preserving and sharing Penobscot storytelling.

Monica Wood, 2019

For or her commitment to Maine communities, her support of Maine libraries, and all that she does to support and nourish the literary and cultural life of the State.

Gary Lawless, 2017

Expanded content copy: For his work to bring poetry and the creative process to the people of Maine, his commitment to helping Mainers of every background find their voice, and his ardent devotion to the environment and to all those that inhabit it.

Donald Soctomah, 2015

For working to preserve the language, history, culture and land base of the Passamaquoddy people in Maine.

Joe Conforti, 2010

For founding the American and New England Studies Program at University of Southern Maine, for his regional history scholarship, and for his generosity and accessibility statewide.

Neil Rolde, 2005

For his extraordinary contributions to the interpretation of Maine history as a historian and author and his encouragement and support of the humanities in Maine as a Representative in the State Legislature.

Karen Sheldon and David Weiss, 2003

Co-founders of Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport, for their contributions to the preservation and interpretation of New England’s historic moving-image history.

Billie Gammon, 1999

For her leadership in the field of “hands-on” history through her founding of the Norlands Living History Center in Livermore Falls.

Tabitha King, 1998

For her efforts to kindle a passion for reading and a love of ideas in Maine people of all ages.

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