The Castine Historical Society is a place where volunteers can support the institution’s mission while pursuing their own historical interests. For example, thanks to a group of energetic volunteers, the Historical Society preserves an important series of interviews with Castine residents in a variety of formats from tape recording, to videos, to digital formats. All are preserved in the Historical Society’s permanent collection. Many can be viewed on the Society’s website at castinehistoricalsociety.org/living history.
Historical Society volunteers began conducting oral history interviews starting around 1980 and continuing through 2007. The result is a rich archive of interviews ranging from Eva Thombs in 1979 to Phil Perkins in 1999 to Ann Miller in 2011.
The more recent series of interviews have been conducted by Ken Scheer, a summer resident of Castine with his wife Ruth. Scheer is now retired from a practice of obstetrics and gynecology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and from the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He devotes time and energy year-round to video recording and editing these “living histories” for the Castine Historical Society archives and for interested people to watch.
His interviewees range from graduates of Castine schools to long-time residents to trained historians speaking about Castine’s history. The Historical Society provides the equipment and Scheer does the rest, entirely as a volunteer project. He has captured and edited 20 interviews and several historical talks, which are all available via the Historical Society’s website.
Scheer’s most recent addition to this collection is an in-depth series of interviews of Castine’s four past town managers, Richard “Robbie” Robinson, Joe Slocum, Dale Abernethy, and Jimmy Goodson. Castine’s selectmen voted to hire a town manager in 1972. There were several short termers in office until 1981 when it became a job savored and enjoyed by the four individuals. Scheer has taped them answering questions about their time in office that covers a period of nearly 40 years between 1981 and 2019.
Lisa Simpson Lutts, Executive Director, notes, “Ken Scheer is providing a valuable archive that documents the history of Castine in the words of its residents. We always look forward to his new projects and enjoy working with him on these invaluable living histories of our town.”
The Castine Historical Society seeks to invigorate Castine through collaborative exploration and stewardship of our region’s rich history, engaging residents and visitors of all ages in Castine’s extraordinary past and, through it, that of New England and North America.
The Historical Society’s Abbott School, featuring the exhibit gallery, gift shop, and a community meeting space at 17 School Street, Castine is closed for the 2020 season. The Historical Society is offering free historic walking tours and a seated tour of the town common through October 11. For further information on these tours, the Castine Historical Society, or the online gift shop visit the website at www.castinehistoricalsociety.org or call 207-326-4118.