James Mathews was born at Maine General Hospital in Portland, Maine, in 1941. He had four siblings; his father, Oscar Mathews, Jr., was a cook for the railroad that ran between Portland and Boston, and his mother, Llewena Hill Mathews, was one of the first graduates of the Gorham Normal School. His father’s family emigrated from Nova Scotia. As a child, he lived with his aunt and uncle in South Portland; the family moved to another home in South Portland when the state took their home to build I-295. Mathews graduated from Portland High School in 1960, and graduated from Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute with an associate’s degree in electronics. He worked for AT&T for thirty seven years. He married Lorene Mathews and had five children. At the time of the interview, he had been a member of the NAACP for thirty five years, serving as the president in the early 1970s, and was an active member of the Green Memorial AME Zion Church. He discusses raising children, family traditions, and what makes the Portland African American community special.
1941, Maine General Hospital, Sanford, Springvale, Portland, Gorham Normal School, South Portland, Nova Scotia, Southern Maine Vocational Institute, Green Memorial AME Zion Church, Munjoy Hill, Fourth of July, NAACP, Woolworth’s, Williams Temple, family traditions, Neville Knowles, Reverend Margaret Lawson, Reverend Steve Coleman, African American experience in Maine
University of Southern Maine, "Mathews James" (2001). Home Is Where I Make It Oral History Project. 4.