Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 040


Robert Maurice York was born on June 10, 1915 in Wilton, Maine. His parents were Josephine Myra (Brown) and Maurice Asa York. His father owned a meat market in Wilton, and his mother was a homemaker. York went to Bates College, graduating in the class of 1937. He then went on to Clark University to get his Masters and Ph.D. in History. After graduating, he enlisted in the Navy, and saw active duty in the Pacific. Japanese Kamikaze planes sunk the boat he originally served on, so he returned stateside and worked for the Office of Naval History. In 1946, he returned to Maine and taught History at the University of Maine at Orono, becoming an expert on the state’s history. In 1956, he was appointed Maine State Historian by then Governor Ed Muskie. He remained in that position for forty years, playing an active role in the creation of the Maine State Archives. Upon leaving the Orono campus in 1962, he took a position as Dean of Academic Affairs at Gorham State College, now known as the University of Southern Maine. From 1970 to 1978, he served as Dean of Graduate Study at the University of Maine at Portland, now also part of the University of Southern Maine. In 1984, he retired as Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Southern Maine.

Scope and Content Note

The interview includes discussions of: Wilton, Maine during the Depression; Ed Muskie debating in high school; Republican party history; Bates in the 1930s; Ed Muskie at Bates; Pa Gould; town-gown relations at Bates in the 1930s; social life at Bates in the 1930s; York’s appointment and career as a Historian of Maine; his service in the Pacific Fleet, including discussions of Kamikaze planes and surviving a ship sinking; and his work at the Office of Naval History.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.