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Philip M. Isaacson papers

Identifier: MC119

Scope and Contents note

Collection contains correspondence between Isaacson and his parents during his naval service in World War II and correspondence pertaining to his interests in collecting decorated American paper and manuscript books, local historic preservation projects and responses to his reviews as an art critic; also contains typescripts of his Maine Sunday Telegram columns; typescripts and handwritten copies of speeches, talks and lectures, primarily pertaining to art and architecture; material on several subjects including Lewiston's Continental Mill, the Philip M. and Deborah N. Isaacson house, Bates Mill Historic District and Hyman Bloom; also includes correspondence, reviews and other material related to Isaacson's three books, The American Eagle; Round Buildings, Square Buildings and Buildings That Wiggle Life a Fish; and A Short Walk Around the Pyramids and Through the World of Art; other material includes newsclippings pertaining to Isaacson's interest in art and architecture, photographs of the Isaacson house under construction, a Chinese edition of the Stars and Stripes and his elementary school essays, notes and scrapbook. The photographs series contains images (mostly) taken by Isaacson during his time in the Pacific during World War II.


  • circa 1935-2013

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Historical note

Philip Isaacson was born June 16, 1924 in Lewiston, Maine to Harris and Goldie (Resnick) Isaacson. After graduating from Hebron Academy, he entered Bates College and became part of the Navy V-12 officer training program. Isaacson served in the Pacific at the end of World War II and then returned to Bates, graduating in 1947. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1950, he joined his father in the firm of Isaacson and Isaacson and later was a founding partner in the firm of Isaacson and Raymond. Committed to public service he served on numerous boards including the Board of Finance for the City of Lewiston and the Board of Trustees for the Lewiston Public Library.

Isaacson was an art critic and columnist for the Maine Sunday Telegram for almost 50 years, reviewing Maine art and exhibits. He also advocated for the funding of the arts during his tenure as chairman of the Maine Arts Commission. He was a self-described architecture fanatic and a prolific photographer, primarily of buildings which he admired. He also authored three books on art and architecture, two of them for children: The American Eagle; Round Buildings, Square Buildings and Building That Wiggle Like a Fish; and A Walk Around the Pyramids and Through the World of Art. In 1961 he and his wife Deborah built a modern home near the Bates College campus. The American Institute of Architects named it one of America's outstanding homes. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

He traveled extensively, often to exotic places such as Nepal, Mali, Iran and Pakistan, as well as many more commonly visited destinations. He was an avid skier and hiker and celebrated his 85th birthday by climbing Mt. Washington with his family. Philip Isaacson died on June 20, 2013.


8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection contains correspondence, primarily letters to his parents during World War II; photographs documenting his naval service; typescripts of his Maine Sunday Telegram columns; various speeches, lectures and talks primarily concerning art and architecture; other material includes information on the Continental Mill and the Bates Mill Historic District and on the Philip M. and Deborah N. Isaacton house; also contains correspondence, drafts and research material for his three books and other published and unpublished material, newsclippings about Isaacson and photographs of the Isaacson house under construction.

Organization and arrangement

Collection is organized into seven series: I. Correspondence; II. Maine Sunday Telegram; III. Speeches/talks; IV. Subject files; V. Writings and VI. Other papers; VII. Photographs.

Acquisition and Custody information

Gift of John Isaacson, 2013. Accession # 2013.113 Photographs gift of Elliot Epstein, 2021. Accession # 2021.039

Finding Aid for the Philip M. Isaacson papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
207-755-5911 (Fax)