Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book

The Maine Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is the programming arm of the Maine Humanities Council.

The Library of Congress Center for the Book was established in 1977 to promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy. In 1997 the Maine Humanities Council established the Maine Center for the Book as a state affiliate of that program. It was renamed the Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book in 2003, in honor of Maine’s first female judge, a former Board chair of MHC and a longtime supporter of our work.

Harriet Putnam Henry (1923 – 2004)harriet henry

Nationally recognized as an expert in marine law and coastal management, Harriet P. Henry became Maine’s first woman judge in 1973. She soon became known as an advocate for women judges, and for her work in the areas of child abuse and child welfare. Harriet Henry was a graduate of Smith College and received her law degree from George Washington University. She and her husband Merton G. Henry moved to Maine in 1958, where they raised three children.

Harriet’s extensive civic service included membership on the board of the original Maine Commission on the Status of Women and the Cumberland County Child Abuse and Neglect Council. She chaired the Portland Housing Authority, the Maine Commission on the Future of the Courts, the Professional Ethics and Judicial Responsibility Committee of the National Conference of Special Court Judges, and the Child Abuse Committee of the Women Judges Foundation for Justice.

Among Harriet’s many honors were an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Bowdoin College and from the University of Maine, and the Maine Commission on Women¹s Woman of the Year Award. Her board service included—in addition to the Maine Humanities Council—the Maine Historical Society, the former Westbrook College (now University of New England’s Portland campus), Sweetser Children’s Services, the National Center for State Courts and, as a charter member, the National Association of Women Judges.