June 18, 2018
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Rise and fall of Eastern Corp. topic of talk

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist

BREWER, Maine — Pauleena MacDougall, director of the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine, will present “The Rise and Fall of Eastern Corp.: The Story of American Industry in the 20th Century,” during the meeting of the Brewer Historical Society at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, at First United Methodist Church, 40 South Main St.

Using historical documents and oral histories, MacDougall has been working on reconstructing the story of Eastern Corp. with an eye toward understanding industrialization and de-industrialization processes in 20th century America.

“Historical documents provide the larger economic and political context, while oral histories help us understand how the workers viewed, responded to or shaped the processes of industrialization as the larger forces of globalization and other political and economic forces affected the industry,” MacDougall said.

She said she finds that oral histories also provide insight into employees’ work ethic and pride in the products they produced, as well as the knowledge of their job. Formal aspects are those that might be found in a manual describing the machine or the work the person is doing, while informal knowledge is learned by experience on the job and generally passed from one worker to another in the workplace.

“My approach to the study of the Eastern Fine Paper Co. includes historical research into larger historical questions that help us understand American industry in general and oral histories with workers that addressed their skills, knowledge, the culture of the mill and their reaction to the process of de-industrialization,” MacDougall said.

MacDougall has a doctorate in American history from the University of Maine and is a faculty associate in anthropology at UMaine, where she teaches courses in folklore.

Since 1979, MacDougall has published numerous papers on the Penobscot Indian language, culture and history and a book, “The Penobscot Dance of Resistance: Tradition in the History of a People,” published by University Press of New England in 2004.

MacDougall is editor of the Maine Folklife Center’s annual monograph series, Northeast Folklore, and oversees publications, research and public programming at the Maine Folklife Center. She serves on the board of directors of the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront and assists the festival by organizing the Folk and Traditional Arts and Narrative Stage components of the program generally featuring aspects of the region’s culture. Her research interests include Native American language and folklore, working-class history and folklore, folklore and the environment and history of the discipline.

The Brewer Historical Society holds an open house 1-3 p.m. Thursdays, or by appointment, at the Clewley Museum, 199 Wilson St.

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