Barbara (Mitchell) Atkins was born in July of 1945 in Waterville, Maine. She grew up with four older brothers: John, Paul, Robert and George Mitchell. Her mother, Mary, was a weaver in the woolen mills in Waterville, and her father, George, Sr., was with the Central Maine Power Company and with the Colby College maintenance department. The family was Maronite Roman Catholic of Lebanese descent. Her mother was born in Lebanon and came to the U.S. in 1920. Barbara attended St. Joseph’s elementary school, Waterville Junior High School and Waterville High School where she played volleyball, basketball, was a cheerleader, a member of the French Club, and involved in editing the yearbook. She earned her degree at the University of Maine at Orono, majoring in Sociology. She married Edward L. Atkins, a Waterville man who had a printing and photography business. Barbara managed the office staff for her husband’s business when she wasn’t teaching. Edward Atkins was a strong Democrat, although he came from a Republican family.
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Richard, Mike, "Atkins, Barbara (Mitchell) oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 11.