James “Jim” Carignan was born in Conway, New Hampshire on August 31, 1939. His father, Hervy, worked in a wood turning factory and his mother, Florence, was a retail salesperson. Of Roman Catholic, French-Canadian and Irish background, they were Democrats. Carignan was president of his class, involved with New England regional debate and forensics, president of New England Senate, and a Regional Key Club Officer. He attended Bates College (class of 1961), majoring in History and was president of his senior class, and worked in the office of the Dean of Men. Jim taught Colonial American history at the University of Rochester until 1964, Kent State University until 1968 and Kenyon College until 1970. He took the position of Dean of Men at Bates College in January 1970 and later served as Dean of College until his retirement in 2003.
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Robitaille, Jeremy, "Carignan, Jim oral history interview" (2001). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 72.