From the Salt Institute gallery show of Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold, produced by Kate Philbrick, photographer, and Rob Rosenthal, radio producer.


Even though Malaga was frequently in the press, not much is known about day-to-day life for the islanders. For several summers in the mid-2000s, a team of student archeologists under the guidance of professors Rob Sanford and Nate Hamilton from the University of Southern Maine conducted archeological research. They dug, scraped, and sifted dirt to fill-in the picture of daily living. The researchers uncovered tens of thousands of artifacts – pottery, fishhooks, dishes, buttons, medicine bottles, nails and so much more.

Some of what the team found contradicts press reports about island living. While the newspapers declared the islanders to be lazy and ‘shiftless,’ Rob Sanford says the artifacts point to an industrious, hard-working community living on the economic edge. “We found all kinds of evidence of a productive, local-based economy…. It looks to me like they worked pretty hard… So they weren’t just casually waiting there for hand-outs and things.”

Additionally, Nate Hamilton says the archeological record indicates island living was not easy, just like it was for any community living on the Maine coast during the turn of the 20th century. There wasn’t easy access to drinking water and insulating the homes for the winter was a challenge.

Malaga Today
Photo Illustrations

Next Gallery>>

Produced in collaboration with: