Fern Alice Burns was born in Portland, Maine on September 20, 1944. She grew up on a farm in West Buxton. Burns attended school with deaf children because her mother was an accountant for the deaf school in Portland. They later moved to Augusta where she and her brother attended high school. After high school she attended Boston University for one year and in 1963 she moved to Washington to work for Stanley R. Tupper, who was like a godfather to her. She ended up working for Congressman George M. Walhauser, and was then hired by George Mitchell as a case worker at Muskie’s office in January 1965. In April 1971, Fern left Muskie’s office to go back to school and work for the U.S. Postal Service and with the Universal Postal Union (UPU). She got her degree from the University of Maryland in 1982. Fern worked on the 1968 campaign doing speech production and traveling a lot for Muskie.
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Nicoll, Don, "Burns, Fern (Campbell) oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 57.