We're working on a new version of PRX. Want a sneak peek?

Swan's Island Memory Project

Series produced by Meghan Vigeant

Series image
Image by: photo courtesy of the Swan's Island Historical Society 

Stories from a Maine island.

The Swan's Island Memory Project started as a collaborative effort to rebuild a historical collection after a fire destroyed the island's archives in 2008. A team of Historical Society volunteers lead by Island Institute fellow, Meghan Vigeant built a digital collection of oral histories and photographs. Meghan then took the oral history recordings and produced 30 short audio and multimedia documentaries, each piece focusing on a different aspect of the island's history and character. The finished pieces were played for the community during the summer of 2010 at two live events, Swan's Islanders at Work and Swan's Islanders at Play. The stories range from seining for sardines to playing in the band at the Odd Fellows' dances.


10 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Joyce Family musicians, Credit: courtesy of Sharon Joyce Butterfield (Swan's Island Memory Project)
Families that play music together stay together. The Joyce family on Swan's Island made their own entertainment.

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 04:45
Caption: 1948, Credit: Swan's Island Memory Project
Swan’s Islanders share their childhood memories of growing up on the island.

Bought by WAMC


  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 04:15
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: 4th of July on Swan's Island, late 1950s, Credit: courtesy of David Joyce (Swan's Island Memory Project)
Celebrate America's independence the Island way, with pranks, potato-spoon races, and pie eating. But remember, cheaters never prosper here.

Bought by WEZU and Delta College Public Radio


  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 02:47
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Sea Side Hall, Swan's Island, Maine, Credit: Swan's Island Memory Project
Of course ice cream is a treat at any time for anyone, but it was awfully difficult to stock in any island store in the 1930’s. Marguerite Staples...

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 01:31
Caption: Normie Burns, Credit: Swan's Island Memory Project
Every town has its troublemaker. But Normie Burns is not a troublemaker. Normie wouldn’t hurt a fly. But he does like to stir things up once in a w...

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 01:37
Caption: Bernita Joyce, Credit: Meghan Vigeant
The battle between a kid’s fun and her parents.

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 03:31
Piece image
The softball players on Swan's Island were more than a team. They were a family.

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 04:41
Piece image
As Elvis and Chubby Checker came into American homes Swan’s Island teenagers were jiving along, too. Gwen May remembers the record hops she went to...

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 04:15
Caption: Dance at the Swan's Island Odd Fellows Hall, Credit: Joyce Knight (Swan's Island Memory Project)
Probably the biggest musical feature of Swan’s Island history were the dances at the Odd Fellows Hall. Marion Stinson was there adding her own flai...

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 03:27
Caption: Clyde Torrey, Credit: Marjorie Whitted (Swan's Island Memory Project)
A true island character here. Clyde Torrey. Fire and homelessness could not dampen his spirit or his music.

  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 04:42