While commentators and educators had been advocating for schools to include Maine studies in their curricula for decades, the first state mandate was effective on August 20, 1955:
AN ACT Relating to the Teaching of the Industrial and Natural Resources of Maine.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine, as follows:
R. S., c. 41, § II, sub-§ VII, amended. Subsection VII of section II of chapter 41 of the revised statutes is hereby amended by adding thereto a new paragraph which shall read as follows:
‘It is further provided that a course in geography and the natural and industrial resources of Maine shall be taught in at least one grade from 7 to 12, inclusive, in all schools, both public and private.’
At least since the Maine Statehood Centennial in 1920, Sprague’s Journal of Maine History proposed improved study of Maine heritage in the schools. The State Superintendent of Schools weighed in as follows:
History like charity should begin at home, and in order that our boys and girls may become the best American citizens they must know something of home affairs and local interests. No man or woman can be considered broad-minded or well educated who is indifferent to the conditions of the community of which he or she is apart.
In our schools then, the child must be taught that his town is a unit of the county, the county of the state, the state of the nation, in order to develop an intelligent and elevating civic patriotism and to put him more fully in touch with his local political, social and industrial environment. . . .
By 2009, the current Maine law had become more comprehensive it its requirements for Maine Studies in Title 20-A, Section 4706 entitled “Instruction in American history, Maine studies and Maine Native American history.”
Instruction in American history, government, citizenship and Maine studies must be aligned with the parameters for essential instruction and graduation requirements established under section 6209.
1. American history. American history, government and citizenship, including the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, the importance of voting and the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, must be taught in and required for graduation from all elementary and secondary schools, both public and private.
2. Maine studies. Maine history, including the Constitution of Maine, Maine geography and environment and the natural, industrial and economic resources of Maine and Maine’s cultural and ethnic heritage, must be taught. A required component of Maine studies is Maine Native American studies, which must be included in the review of content standards and performance indicators of the learning results conducted in accordance with section 6209, subsection 4. The Maine Native American studies must address the following topics:
B. Maine Native American cultural systems and the experience of Maine tribal people throughout history;
C. Maine Native American territories; and
D. Maine Native American economic systems.
Maine Revised Statutes. http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/20-A/title20-Asec4706.html (accessed February 6, 2013)
Public Laws of the State of Maine. 1955. From the State Law and Legislative Library. http://www.maine.gov/legis/lawlib/refemail.htm
Thomas, Augustus O. “Projects in Local History in the Aroostook State Normal School.” Sprague’s Journal of Maine History. January, February, March, 1921. p. 36. http://archive.org/stream/spraguesjournalo01spra#page/36/mode/2up (accessed February 6, 2013)