Paul Ledman, author and historian. courtesy photo/ Paul Ledman

SOUTH PORTLAND – Paul Ledman, historian and author, will discuss his latest work, “Portland Maine: Connections Across Time” on Sunday, Nov. 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Portland Historical Society, located at 55 Bug Light Park.

Ledman said the book explores the connections between Portland’s past and global events. He said the book delves into the city’s rich history, revealing profound links to national and international trends. Ledman is also known for “Walking Through History: Portland, Maine on Foot.”

Ledman’s historical philosophy centers on the continuity of events, he said.

“I have always viewed history as a continual process in which the issues and events of the present are related to, and have been influenced by, the events of the past. Too often history is presented as a series of disconnected facts; this makes it very difficult to see larger patterns and trends”

He critiques the common approach of presenting history as disconnected facts. “When history is viewed as a continual process, the linkages between events become clearer and easier to discern,” he said. In “Connections,” he said he cast a wider net and focused more on how national and international events influenced the development of the city and its neighborhoods.

Ledman emphasizes the importance of visual aids in his storytelling. “Visuals are critical to historical understanding,” he said.


Two examples of the inclusion of visuals in his works are in, “Walking” and “Connections.” In “Walking,” an insert map displays the extent of damage from the Fire of 1866, providing a tangible understanding. In “Connections,” an inset map from 1884 reveals the city’s transformation, showcasing the impact of landfill, railroads, and industrial development.

“We sometimes think of Maine as peripheral to national or international events because of its relatively small population and geographic location,” Ledman said. Ledman said he discovered deep connections between Maine’s history and national and global events.

Ledman stressed the importance of teaching local history in tandem with its national and international context. He says readers should think critically about the forces influencing local events.

“Local history should never be taught in isolation, it is virtually meaningless to remember local events if we don’t know why they occurred,” he said. He stressed the need for engagement, saying if even a few people become engaged after reading “Connections,” he would be pleased.

“People trying to implement change have faced pushback and obstacles by those controlling the narrative,” Ledman said. “People need to think critically about what they are hearing and what they are seeing and remember what Orwell said in “1984,” ‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.’”

His book signing at South Portland Historical Society on Nov. 26 offers an opportunity for readers to discuss Portland’s history. All events are free for historical society members and $20 for non-members unless otherwise noted. Annual family memberships are available for $25.

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