Don Hansen was born on July 14, 1935 in Presque Isle, Maine to Blanche (Stevenson) and Daniel Hansen. His father worked at a grange store and his mother was a secretary. Don attended Presque Isle High School, and then went to Boston University to study Journalism. When he graduated in 1959, he returned to Maine where he worked for a newspaper in Portland. In 1960, he was appointed the State House reporter and became familiar with many Maine politicians. He co-wrote a book with Theo Lippman called Muskie that came out during the 1972 presidential campaign. In 1972, he became editorial director of the Portland newspapers.
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L'Hommedieu, Andrea, "Hansen, Don oral history interview" (2000). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 158.