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Ellen Vincent,

South Bristol's 

Honorary Citizen

Ellen Vincent, author of Down on the Island, Up on the Main: A Recollected History of South Bristol, Maine, honorary citizen of the Town of South Bristol and a founder of SBHS passed away Feb. 24, 2007 from breast cancer.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1949, Ellen grew up in a Maryland suburb outside of Washington, D.C., and graduated from high school in 1967. She received a B.A. in art education from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1971, and a Masters of Fine Arts from George Washington University in 1973.

She began her academic career at the Maryland College of Art and Design and in1989 moved to Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design where she was Professor of Art until illness kept her from the classroom.


Ellen was the catalyst for a group of townspeople interested in local history to carry out the idea of a historical society, leading to the formation of SBHS in 1998. She took great pride in the success of the Society from its very beginning, contributing photographs, stories, ideas and expertise - but most of all she gave inspiration. The story of how Ellen came to South Bristol and of how her visits to flea markets and the random family photos found there turned into a major art-and-oral history project is well known to South Bristol.


The showing of "Down on the Island, up on the Main" in South Bristol in August 2003 reminded many people of old times, places and faces, while others read about them for the first time. Everyone left with pride and a renewed sense of what this town of South Bristol is all about. 

At the reception celebrating the show and the publication of the book by the same name, the Selectmen presented Ellen with a plaque naming her an honorary citizen of South Bristol, "in recognition of her work gathering and preserving the history of our Town". Working with Ellen to create and publish the book was an unparalleled confidence-building experience for a fledgling organization. The book has created opportunities for SBHS that most small town historical societies would never have.


In the introduction to Down on the Island, Ellen wrote: "This book is merely a stage in a work-in-progress, carried on by all of us in the South Bristol Historical Society. It is my fondest hope that the work will continue, and that it will serve as an inspiration for other communities to preserve their own "history".


The SBHS Board of Trustees remains committed to giving life to Ellen's dream and counts on the continuing support of the membership in this endeavor.

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