Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Bern Porter Collection, 1928-2002, n.d.

Bern Porter Collection, 1928-2002, n.d.

5.5 linear feet.

Catalog Number: M212

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
Bernard Harden Porter was born February 14, 1911, in Porter Settlement, near Houlton, Maine. He attended area public schools, Ricker Classical Institute, and Colby College. Porter began his career as a scientist. He started graduate work in physics in 1932, worked on the Manhattan Project in 1945 (resigning in protest after the atomic bombs were dropped), and worked on NASA's Saturn V manned rocket program in the 1960s. During the years he was employed as a physicist, Porter also developed a reputation as an avant-garde artist, writer, and publisher, and by the late 1960s he had left science as a profession. Porter theorized about the union of art and science, coined Sciart; he was a pioneer and influential practitioner of artists books, visual collaged poetry "Founds," and mail art. He was a prolific author and an active publisher; Porter's imprint, Bern Porter Books, was Henry Miller's first publisher in the United States. After an unsettled, nomadic, period in his life, Porter moved to Belfast, Maine, around 1969. He established the Institute for Advanced Thinking at his Belfast home as a base for his own theoretical and creative endeavors, including poetry performance, and as a gathering place for others in the avant-garde arts community. Porter also became involved in local politics and planning, running for governor (unsuccessfully) and serving on the Knox County Regional Planning Commission.

Porter was married three times: to Helen Elaine Hendren (1946-1947?), Margaret Eudine Preston (1955-1975), and Lula Mae Schekel Bloom (1976-1986). Porter died on June 7, 2004.

Scope and Content:
Writings, artwork, correspondence, and biographical materials that document Bern Porter's life as a scientist and avant-garde writer, artist, and publisher. Included are manuscripts and typescripts of books authored and published by Porter; articles, poetry, and other writings by Porter (both published and unpublished); and artwork, photographs, and mail and copy art. The collection also includes personal and professional correspondence, announcements of public appearances and publications, documents regarding Porter collections at other libraries, clipped articles pertaining to Porter, and biographical information and items of personal interest to Porter.

For further materials related to Porter at Bowdoin College, see the Mark Melnicove Papers (M292). Substantial Porter collections are also held by Colby College and UCLA.

Cite as: Bern Porter Collection, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine

Access Restrictions: No restrictions.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
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