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“Life of the Maine Lobsterman” Project

Identifier: MF037

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the nineteen accessions (33 hours) in this collection consists of interviews by David Taylor conducted during the summer of 1974 focused on Maine lobster fishermen. Series NA0726, NA0727, and NA0747 - NA0750, and NA0777 have been added to the collection since they are on the same topic and were done around the same time. Included in the "supplemental material" is the contents of the MF037 collection folder: correspondence, clippings, articles, and surveys relating to the Life of the Maine Lobsterman Project.


  • The bulk of the material is from 1974.
  • 1972-1974


Conditions Governing Access

For digitized items free from access restrictions, we are working to upload this material (pdfs, mp3s, jpgs) for public access, but it is an ongoing project. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, contact Special Collections (

Conditions Governing Use

Rights assessment remains the responsibility of the researcher. Known restrictions on NA0887, NA1089, NA1131, NA1318 - see Special Collections Librarian for more information.


20 items

Language of Materials



NA0726 Edwin Lawson, interviewed by Rita Swidrowski for FO 197, fall 1972, West Tremont, Maine. Lawson, 73, talks about lobstering on the Maine coast. Text: 131 pp. transcript. Recording: mfc_na0726_t0534_01-mfc_na0726_t0537_02 251 minutes.

NA0727 Charles P. Dodge, interviewed by David Taylor for FO 197, fall 1972, Friendship, Maine. Series of interviews with Dodge, 84, about his life as a lobster fisherman. Also included: personal correspondence. Text: 256 pp. transcript. Recording: mfc_na0727_t0538_01-mfc_na0727_t0544_01 435 minutes. Photos: P00347 - P00379.

NA0747 Dale Torrey, interviewed by Mark Lafond for FO 197, March 3, 1973, Winter Harbor, Maine. Also present and sometimes adding to the discussion: Mrs. Torrey. Torrey talks about being a lobster fisherman; decision not to finish school; the company he works for; his house; children; learning lobstering from his brother and father; problems starting out; first wife’s death; second wife; wages; shrimping during the winter; co-op; his father’s love of being a lobster-fisherman. Also included: 3 pp. Survey of Maine Lobstering Industry and 2 pp. biography of Torrey. Text: 170 pp. total: 141 pp. transcript with 24 pp. catalog, 2 page bio, 3 page survey. Recording: mfc_na0747_t0569_01-mfc_na0747_t0573_02 315 minutes.

NA0748 Frank Dyer, interviewed by Becky Elwell for FO 197, spring 1973, Lincolnville, Maine. Also included: newspaper clipping; 5 pp. interview schedule; 2 pp. biography of Dyer. Dyer, born on High Island on April 2, 1896, talks about Warren Island; his grandparents; school on 700 Acres Island; moving to Maker’s Island (La Salle’s Island); tending traps with his father, a lobster fisherman; working on the roads in Camden, Maine; being in the Army in WWII; odd jobs he worked; going back to lobstering at age 29; loosing boats to a hurricane; his wife picking and selling crabs he catches; children and grandchildren; duck hunting; whittling; knitting the heads for the traps he builds. Text: 82 pp. total: 72 pp. transcript with 2 pp. catalog/biography. Recording: mfc_na0748_t0574_01-mfc_na0748_t0576_01 181 minutes.

NA0749 Sherwood Cook, Ernest Maloney, and Holace Chadwick, interviewed by Jayne Lello for FO 197, spring 1973, Tenant’s Harbor, Port Clyde, Maine. Cook talks about lobster fishing; the new equipment and laws that apply; it as a business; his lobster territory around Little Green Island, which he owns; his background; his wife; how his father and grandfather did lobster fishing; bird watching. Maloney, who grew up in Port Clyde, talks about his background; his father (a “man of the sea”); lobstering with his father; being a full-time fisherman. Chadwick talks about his background; past days of glorious sea captains and schooners; his mother; living in Port Clyde; coming from a long line of “men of the sea”; his childhood; working on a tanker for 10 years; switching to lobstering; share-fishing with Cook; living with his wife on Little Green Island; purse seining and stop seining; his children. Text: 170 pp. transcript with brief catalog. Recording: mfc_na0749_t0577_01-mfc_na0749_t0581_01 269 minutes.

NA0750 Joe and Evelyn Horr and Leon and Leila Horr, interviewed by Faith A. Rawding for FO 107 and 197, April 1973, Long Island and Casco Bay, Maine. The Horrs talk about lobster fishing; fishing; clamming; trawling; sword fishing; shad fishing; and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Text: 297 pp. transcript and brief catalog. Recording: mfc_na0750_t0582_01-mfc_na0750_t0589_02 514 minutes. Photos: P00442 - P00444.

NA0754 Captain Sidney Sprague, interviewed by David Taylor for HY 183, 1973, Rockland, Maine. Sprague talks about the early history of lobster fishing. Text: 160 pp. total: transcript, information sheets, and a student paper. Recording: mfc_na0754_t0594_01-mfc_na0754_t0596_02 191 minutes. Photos: P00450, P00992 - P00998.

NA0777 Alton Urguhart, interviewed by Mary O’Meara for American Folklore Seminar, George Washington University, August 24, 1973, Ellsworth, Maine. Urguhart talks about his life as a lobster fisherman from the vantage point of his 76th year; his background and childhood; learning lobstering from his father; lobster boats in the 1910s; his wife; types of traps used then; Beal’s Island; wet-well smack; different kinds of smacks; lobster shells for fertilizer; storms; regulations of seasons; in Coast Guard in WWI and WWII; types of motors and engines prior to WWII; hard getting back in after serving; buoys; different methods of fishing; hawling vs hauling traps; fishing in Southwest Harbor; blessings and hardships on the sea; summer people; ghost stories; 7-year lobster cycle; effect of off shore fishing; hatcheries. Also included: personal correspondence. Tape: mfc_na0777_t0644_01, mfc_na0777_t0644_02, mfc_na0777_t0645_01, mfc_na0777_t0645_02, mfc_na0777_t0646_01 2 hours. Text: 7 pp. catalog; 27 pp. of extracts of O’Meara’s paper and draft.

NA0897 Tim Staples, interviewed by David Taylor, summer 1974, in Swan’s Island, Maine. Staples, a lobster fisherman, talks about learning where to set traps; equipment used; costs; money management; territoriality; opinions on laws, trap limits, closed season, etc. Text: 24 pp. total: catalog and transcription. Recording: mfc_na0897_t0866_01 36 minutes.

NA0898 Sherm Stanley, Jr., interviewed by David Taylor, October 10, 1974, at Stanley’s home in Monhegan Island, Maine. Stanley, age 26, talks about his life as a lobster fisherman; starting at the age of 10; children learning basic fishing from parents and friends; length of the fishing season; offseason for conservation purposes; boat maintenance; gear overhaul: rope, painting buoys and boats, repairing old traps, and building new traps; cost of operations; types of electronic gear; problems occurring during winter weather conditions; money management; lenders and buyers; and the future of the industry; co-ops; types of boats (fiberglass vs wooden); lobstering off of Monhegan Island. Text: 21 pp. detailed index. Recording: mfc_na0898_t0867_01 26 minutes.

NA0899 Al Roberts, interviewed by David Taylor, July 1, 1974, at Robert’s home in Friendship, Maine. Roberts talks about how he became a lobster buyer at the age of 34; explains the difference between a dealer and a buyer; what the buyer’s goals are for making money; what the buyer provides for the fisherman: a wharf, parking lot for vehicles, place to leave skiffs, build and repair traps, paint, bait, gas; providing quality service for fisherman; the relationship between buyer and fisherman; lending money; history of the Friendship Sloops in Maine, startup costs for lobstermen; a year’s activities; and the future of the industry. Text: 5 pp. detailed index. Recording: mfc_na0899_t0868_01 25 minutes.

NA0970 Andy Gove, interviewed by David Taylor, July 9, 1974, Stonington, Maine. Gove talks about experiences as a lobster fisherman; his ideas on fishermen’s co-ops; how he started as a fisherman; his estimates on how much it would cost to get set up as a lobster fisherman today; the rising costs of gear and fuel; how the fathom meter and other instruments have affected the industry; headaches associated with fishing. Also present: Bill (Grove’s brother) and other family members. Text: 6 pp. catalog. Recording: mfc_na0970_t0970_01 53 minutes.

NA0971 Joe Charczynski, interviewed by David Taylor, August 1, 1974, age 34, Charczynski home in Beal’s Island, Maine. Charczynski, age 34, talks about worming and lobster fishing: how he decided to come to Maine; how natives treated him; difficulty building and repairing traps; his father-in-law showing Joe how to knit heads; seasonal movements of lobsters; winter activities; trap limit; trap design; trap setting strategy; fishing conditions in the area; territoriality; how lobstering can be lonely job; daily expenses; offshore fishing; competition and cooperation in lobstering. Text: 6 pp. brief catalog. Recording: mfc_na0971_t0971_01 43 minutes.

NA0972 Ralph Alley, interviewed by David Taylor, August 2, 1974, Beals, Maine. Alley, age 42, talks about lobster fishing: fishing conditions around Jonesport; fishing by foreign fleets; repair traps on summer; maintenance work on boat; independence of fishermen; successful fisherman; part timers. Complete transcription is not available. Text: 3 pp. handwritten catalog. Recording: mfc_na0972_t0972_01 24 minutes.

NA0973 Stillman Griffin, interviewed by David Taylor, August 30, 1974, Kennebunkport, Maine. Griffin talks about what it is like to be a lobsterman; costs involved in maintenance and repairs, traps, buoyes, bait, etc.; what his opinions are on legislation, fishermen’s co-ops, trap limit, etc.; how much it would cost for a young man to get started; the future of the lobstering industry; different kinds of bait, boats, and traps. Also present: Mrs. Griffin and two granddaughters. Text: 10 pp. catalog. Recording: mfc_na0973_t0973_01 61 minutes.

NA0974 Harold Finnemore, interviewed by David Taylor, summer 1974, Islesford, Maine. Finnemore, a part-time lobster fisherman, talks about lobster fishing: building of lobstering traps; lost traps; old fisher: Atwood Gilmore; different kind of fishes; lobster buyer Lee Ham; how to build a weir; fishing territory; drunk fishing stories; places for fishing and lobstering; fishing boats prices; Friendship sloop; fishing at night. Text: 11 pp. catalog. Recording: mfc_na0974_t0974_01 66 minutes.

NA0975 Edgar Drisko, interviewed by David Taylor, September 6 and 12, 1974, New Harbor, Maine. Radio transmission from September 6 for first 5 minutes. Drisko, age 43, talks about lobster fishing: starting fishing a young age; fishing as an independent job; fishing cycles of shrimp and lobster; lobster prices; how much it costs to start lobster fishing; scarcity and overfishing of lobsters; fisherman licenses; average traps for a big fisherman; boundaries for fishing; lobster fishing competition; boat builders Carol and Royal Lowell; farming lobsters; retirement; government support for fishermen; paperwork for fishermen. Text: 8 pp. catalog. Recording: mfc_na0975_t0975_01, mfc_na0975_t0975_02 112 minutes.

NA0982 Lyman "Gus" Alley, interviewed by David Taylor, August 27, 1974, Alley’s home in Kittery, Maine. Alley, age 66, talks about his experiences as a lobsterman: early fishing experiences; fishing conditions; speed of his boat; Down East vs. Kittery area; how dragging affects lobstering; resistance of fiberglass boats; old fashioned hauling gear and new rigs; how he began on lobstering business; number of traps; fishing boundaries; fishing in wintertime; using a sail on the stern; fishing strategies; prospects for the future of fishery; equalize measure of lobster capture in all states; selling lobsters to smacks; sickness; what it takes to be a successful fisherman; radio communication; Jonesport lobster boat races; fishing in rough weather; feelings about retirement; trap designs about Kittery; square traps vs. half round traps; wooden heads in a trap. Text: 4 pp. catalog & 38 pp. transcription. Recording: mfc_na0982_t0982.1_01 63 minutes.

NA1996 Stillman Havener, interviewed by David Littleton-Taylor, summer 1974, Friendship, Maine. Havener talks about lobstering. Recording: mfc_na1996_t1963_01 62 minutes.

NA2005 Les Dyer, interviewed by David Taylor, fall 1974, Rockland, Maine. Dyer of Vinalhaven and Rockland, Maine, the first president of the MLA, talks about the founding of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. Recording: mfc_na2005_t1969_01, mfc_na2005_t1969_02 73 minutes.

NA4547 Screen capture of the #SaveMaineLobstermen website created by Kimberly Sawtelle on June 2, 2023. The screen capture includes the web pages: "The Issue," "The Solution," "Join the Fight," "In Court," "Shop to Support," and "Contact." The website was created in reaction to the 2021 call by the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) "ten-year whale plan that requires the Maine lobster fishery to reduce its already minimal risk to right whales by 98 percent." The document includes all material available through the website regarding the September 2021 lawsuit filed by the Maine Lobstermen's Association (MLA) challenging the 10-year whale plan. The primary argument of the lobster fishers is that federal regulations are not science-based and will terminate a traditional lifeway and natural resource industry disproportionately impacting self-employed, white residents of Maine's coastal regions. Includes a brief video of Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement explaining MLA’s legal appeal. Text: 311 pp. Recording: mfc_na4547_01. Time: 00:01:41. Restrictions: Use of the document must include the copyright statement, ©2023 Save Maine Lobstermen.

Physical Location

29-B-3-5 for master AND server16 ( for access

Existence and Location of Originals

Located at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress: AFC 2012/047

Materials Specific Details

Audio files are the primary source material. Transcriptions are the transcriber's best effort to convert audio to text, but should be considered secondary to the audio.

Guide to “Life of the Maine Lobsterman” Project
Digital Objects Available
Katrina Wynn
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States