Skip to main content

Marie Donahue papers

Identifier: 0101

Collection Scope and Content

The Marie Donahue papers offer a unique portrait of a literary life anchored in South Berwick, Maine, much of it centering around Sarah Orne Jewett. There is correspondence between Donahue and numerous literary figures including Gladys Hasty Carroll, Dorothy Healy, and Douglas Alvord, as well as Senators Margaret Chase Smith and George Mitchell. The collection also includes letters between Donahue and her editors at various magazines, as well as letters from her former students. There is a significant correspondence between Donahue and Elizabeth Goodwin, longtime hostess of the Sarah Orne Jewett House in South Berwick. The collection includes information on many Maine historical organizations, including the Dunnybrook Historical Society, the Jewett House, and Hamilton House, as well as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Donahue collected newspaper and magazine clippings on a wide variety of subjects from literature to history to travel for her own personal interests, and these are included in the collection. There is significant material from Donahue's teaching career at Dover High School and Berwick Academy, including teaching notes and assignments. The collection also contains drafts and copies of Donahue's numerous writing projects and freelance articles for outlets such as Down East Magazine and The Boston Globe.


  • 1904-2008



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Curator of the Maine Women Writers Collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Marie A. Donahue was born in South Berwick, Maine in 1920. She grew up with four siblings, older sisters Bernadette and Martha, older brother Patrick, and younger sister Julia. When she was young, her family could not afford reading material other than The Boston Globe, so Donahue created her first book by cutting out pieces of “The Christmas Carol” from a copy of the Globe and into one of her father’s books. Donahue graduated from Berwick Academy as valedictorian in 1937. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English and went on to earn her master’s degree in English. She began her career at UNH, teaching such courses as New Hampshire Literature as well as Media and Methods, and she also supervised new teachers. Upon leaving UNH, she taught English at Berwick Academy until 1957. Donahue then taught English at Dover High School and became chair of the English Department until she retired in 1980. Upon request to return, she taught part-time at Berwick Academy until her official retirement in 1988. Donahue received recognition for her achievement and service and was named Berwick Academy Alumni of the Year in 1969 and South Berwick Citizen of the Year in 1977. Outside of teaching, Donahue wrote freelance articles for Down East Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Maine Sunday Telegram, New England Guide, and New Hampshire Profiles Magazine. She wrote forwards and introductions for books such as Old Kittery and Her Families, A Country Doctor, Country By-Ways, Deephaven, and The Tory Lover, and for short stories such as “A White Heron,” “The Hiltons’ Holiday,” and “A Neighbor’s Landmark.” Donahue wrote a history of Berwick Academy entitled The Old Academy on the Hill: A Bicentennial History 1791-1991, published in 1992 by Picton Press. She was a Sarah Orne Jewett scholar, and was a member of the Jewett/Eastman Memorial Committee. She served as secretary for the Old Berwick Historical Society, was an advisory board member for the Maine Historical Society, and served as an executive board member of the Friends of UNH Library. Later in life, Donahue was a member of the New Hampshire Retired Teachers Association and Maine Retired Teachers Association. She died in her childhood home in Berwick on March 6th, 2007.


8 linear feet

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged in six series: I. Biographical Information; II. Correspondence; III. Geneology and Preservation; IV. Research; V. Teaching; VI. Writing

Processing Information

The collection was originally processed by Ann Morrissey as a MWWC volunteer; the collection was refoldered and reorganized by Jefferson Navicky.

Guide to the Marie Donahue papers
Stephen Johnson, Jefferson Navicky
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Maine Women Writers Collection Repository

Abplanalp Library
University of New England
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland Maine 04103 United States