Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 061


Elsie Bowen was born in Morrill, Maine (a small town of fewer than 1000 people). Her father, Ernest Bowen, was a farmer, and her mother, Flora Knowlton Bowen, was a housewife. She was the third eldest of 10 children. They lived on a farm, where Elsie continues to live today. Elsie considered herself “non-political” and actually worked for both [implied Democratic and Republican] parties. She worked in Ed Muskie’s office when he was governor doing bookkeeping and secretarial work. Elsie and her parents were involved in community groups (church, ladies groups, and the 4-H horse-back riding club). Elsie attended and graduated from (in 1939) Belfast Crosby High School about 10 miles away from Morrill. She never married. She began doing secretarial work in her last year of high school, and continued doing so after graduation at Belfast Manufacturing Company. Eight years later she moved to Augusta to work for the Department of Education and then for Governor Muskie in 1954. After Muskie’s term as governor, Elsie Bowen stayed on to work for other governors including Haskell, Clauson, Reed and Longley. After that, she went to the Clerk of House office (in the State House), and then she retired. She came out of retirement when Rodney Quinn asked her to begin working again in the Deputy Secretary of State office.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: the Depression years on the farm in Morrill, Maine; her personal response to World War II; the general “Republicanism” of Maine; her first impressions of Muskie; her experience with Muskie as a supervisor; Muskie’s temper; the relationship between Marjorie Hutchinson and Ed Muskie; Elsie Bowen’s secretarial position and responsibilities for Muskie; comparison of Gov. Clauson to Gov. Muskie; Muskie’s relationship with the Executive Council; Bob Haskell’s relationship with Muskie; impressions of Louis Jalbert; changes is responsibilities from the governor’s office as secretary to the head secretary at the Clerk of House office; Muskie’s environmental issues as Governor.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.