About us

About the Salt Story Archive

The Salt Story Archive contains almost 16,000 images, 495 radio stories, 849 writing projects, 251 short documentary video projects, more than 500 articles in 56 publications, and 3 books created by over 1,000 Salt storytellers who have attended The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies since it began in 1973. Within all of those files almost 3,000 subjects fields have been tagged so that they are fully discoverable on this site.

There are multiple ways to search for and discover the materials within the Salt Story Archive. Within the Story Explorer option, viewers can select stories by type (writing, photography, radio or multimedia), people, topic, region, or date.

Take a look around and you'll find yourself jumping from a tale of lobstering in the '70's to a story exploring the lives of new immigrants looking to call Maine home. You'll discover work documenting everything from the back-to-the-land movement, rural poverty, boatbuilders, hunting and migrant farmers to gender diversity, alleged alien abductions and cold-case crimes.

In 2016, this Archive was created by Maine College of Art to preserve the works of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies both previous to joining MECA and the works of future cohorts of the Salt program. We are preserving it so that future generations of students, scholars and community members will have a true picture, unvarnished and uncensored, of the history of documentary work at Salt, and so that they may learn from it as a resource. “By preserving records of societal experiences, functions, activities, and decision-making, archivists provide important resources for contemporary and future entities seeking accountability” (Society of American Archivists).

If you are a creator/producer of work or the subject of a Salt story and you would like to contact the institution with your feedback or questions please follow this link https://www.meca.edu/feedback/

About Salt

Since 1973, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies has taught students from all over the United States and around the world to become truthful, thorough, creative and responsible storytellers and documentarians. Through writing, photography, video and radio these students have collected and shared Maine stories. Salt, like its subjects over the years, has always found new and exciting ways to adapt to the times. Over the course of its first 42 years, Salt relocated five times, changed our name, expanded our programs, re-envisioned our student focus from high school to college and beyond, updated our look, and evolved our mission.

2016 marks the next phase in Salt's evolution, as we partner with the Maine College of Art. At MECA, Salt will continue to offer its unique semester-long documentary program as well as shorter intensive workshop programs.

We are thrilled to continue training aspiring storytellers and documentarians in the Salt tradition under MECA's educational oversight and with the support of their administration, faculty and staff. The energy of MECA's studio-based art programming will compliment the similar intensity of Salt's documentary studies. For more information about this partnership and its programs, click here.

About The Digital Preservation

HistoryIT, in partnership with Salt Institute, has reviewed Salt's extensive archival collections and has digitized much, though not all, of the wonderful materials stored in its archive. All items digitized are now available for viewing by a vastly larger audience than ever before, giving new life to the many stories within.

What you will find

All projects were digitally rendered without retouching of any kind. Scratches, coffee stains, torn edges, discoloration within publication margins due to rusted staples, or crooked alignment of images printed on photo paper accurately represents the items in physical form. The paper used in early publications of magazines was often so thin that a small amount of bleed-through from content on the reverse side may occasionally be visible. In each case, much of what is seen digitally is what the viewer would see if they were holding the physical item in their hands. The one exception is the exclusion of cropping notes on several of the images. The intent was to relate the image as the creator first produced it.

Original documents for all writing and photography projects, including written notes, drafts, audio transcriptions, and final story versions were scanned years ago and are also now tagged with descriptive subject tags, which optimizes their digital searchability.

Salt Story Archive Permission Request

If you're interested in using materials from the Salt Story Archive for an exhibition, showcase, article, or educational resource, please complete this form.