McMillen, Jean Porter

Interviewer: Jane Fitting
Place of Interview: 41 Chatfield Drive
Date of Interview:
File No: 45 Cycle: 2
Summary: Oral History 2010-2018, Salisbury Town Historian 2014-?

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

Jean McMillen Interview:

This is file 45, cycle2. Today’s date is October 1, 2016. This is Jean McMillen. I am being interviewed by Jane fitting. She is going to ask me questions about the oral history project. I hope I remember the answers. First we will start with the genealogical information which I have already filled in.

JF:What is your name?

JM:Jean Porter McMillen

JF:Birth date?

JM:July 4, 1945

JF:Birthplace?

JM:Fitchburg, Massachusetts

JF:Parents’ names?

JM:Chester Lee Porter and Barbara Priscilla Smith

JF:Siblings?

JM:No

JF:Education after high school?

JM:Keuka College, graduated in 1967 with BS in Elementary Education, Masters in Reading from University of Connecticut in 1971, and 9 credits of continuing education from Florida State taken at Christ Church, Oxford, England, the summers of 1987 and 1988 while on Sabbatical from Region #1.

JF:How did you come to this area?

JM:I was hired to teach fourth grade at Salisbury Central School in 1967 and retired in 1991.

JF:How did you get involved with the oral history project?

JM:I worked with Caroline Burchfield on a Girls Scout project for oral history. Because of that experience, Katherine Chilcoat suggested that I do the adult oral history. That is how I got involved.

JF:How did the oral history project get started to begin with?

JM:It started back in 1982. I think the idea came from Sarah Wardell and she got Holly Palmer Daboll involved from the Salisbury Association. Holly was in charge of it for about a year. She passed away. Marion Haeberle took over as chair; she had a committee. She and her committee did the oral history interviewing from 1983 to 2006. They had 177 oral histories on tape. When I took over in 2010, 55 of those tapes have not been transcribed. So the first job was to transcribe those 55 tapes. All of the

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tapes have now been converted into MP3 format. To date we have a total of 290 oral histories completed, hard copy and MP3.

JF:How far back do the oral histories cover?

JM:They go back at least to the 1930, talking about the Depression. I am thinking Lime Rock particularly. But with the oral histories with Mt. Riga, they go back to the 1880’s.

JF:What is your focus on the project?

JM:With the early project, they were doing by committee people who were born in Salisbury, interesting people. My focus has broadened to governments, fire department, ambulance, summer youth program, selected boards or appointed boards; anyone who has done any kind of work for the town, either volunteer or paid.

JF:How do you go about your interviews? How do you find the people to interview and what kinds of questions do you ask?

JM:I usually have been given names of people who might be interviewed or people that I know of on various boards and committees. I call first and ask if they would consider it, if they say yes, then we have an initial meeting and we just talk. That takes about an hour and one half. I come home formulate questions from our talk. I go back a second time with my handy dandy voice recorder ;I ask them those questions such as you are doing now, and I tape the answers. Then I do the transcribing so we have a hard copy. After that I call the third time and tell them thank you so much for doing it. I am very grateful. I have standard questions that I ask about genealogical background for research. Then each person has personalized questions depending upon what I am interviewing them about.

JF:Do you do other things that go along with this project?

JM:Yes, I have been trying to focus on marketing. If these things sit in a file cabinet, nobody knows they are there. I have over the course of the years I have been doing this, I have been pulling out interesting stories or funny stories from the oral histories and putting them into categories and this has become “Sarum Samplings” Volume 1, 2, and 3. I have also started doing “Town Tidbits” which are small sugar-coated pills of history that are put into the Lakeville Journal which is fun. I have asked Lou Bucceri to do a radio program called “Salisbury Minute”. He had written 5 scripts: one of them being Flood of 1955, Mt. Riga stories, The creation of the Salisbury Visiting Nurses Association, another script was on the Cedars, and a 5th script was on World War 2 on the Home Front. He has taped these and they have been broadcast. Hopefully we are going to have them created into podcasts so that you can hear these more than once. I am also hoping after the Oral History Index is out on the internet, we can get all the mP3 on the internet so that people can hear the individual interviews and not have to sit in my office and read the hard copies.

 

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JF:That will be amazing and so useful to so many people. So the future of this project is on the internet.

JM:What I am hoping for is that the future will be on the internet so if you wanted to do research on Hotchkiss School, using the Oral History Index you would click on Education, scan down to Hotchkiss. There would be probably 25 or 30 names of people that talked about Hotchkiss School. You would then click on the individual name and you would get to either hear or read the transcription in its entirety.

JF:Do you enjoy doing this and meeting people?

JM:I am having a ball. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. I have met so many wonderful people that give so much to the community. It has really been a joy.

JF:That is all we have.

JM:Thank you very much for interviewing me, Jane.