Joan Riggin Harper

Joan Riggin Harper Image
Location of Interview
Collection Name

New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore


The Bayshore Center at Bivalve’s Oral History program is dedicated to preserving the oral history and culture of New Jersey’s Bayshore region by saving for posterity the oral histories and material culture connected with the Bayshore region, by creating a repository of recordings and data that can be used for research, by preserving, treasuring and celebrating the environment, history and culture of the Bayshore region and by sharing the heritage of the Bayshore region today and with future generations through program related activities serving visitors, students and scholars.

Date of Interview

Joan Riggin Harper was born on February 7, 1924, in Millville, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Her father was John Cullen Riggin and her mother was Emily Fowler Bateman. Joan attended Port Norris Grammar School and later graduated from Port Norris High School in 1941. After high school, she attended a business school in Bridgeton, New Jersey, where she completed a one-year course. Joan's first job was typing deeds when the Army bought the airport ground in Millville. She later got married and had three children. Joan's family was involved in the oyster business under the name Riggin & Riggin. The family owned two boats, the Tony Faust and the Addie S. Riggin, which were used for oystering.

Scope and Content Note
This oral history interview with Joan Riggin Harper, conducted on August 7, 2013, provides a rich account of her family history and her life growing up in Port Norris, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Joan shares detailed stories about her childhood, schooling, and early work experiences, including her first job typing deeds for the Army. She also provides information about the local lifestyle and the physical layout of Main Street from the 1930s through the 1950s, including the names of stores, their owners, and their exact locations. A significant portion of the interview is dedicated to discussing her family's involvement in the oyster business under the name Riggin & Riggin. Joan provides information about the family's two oyster boats, the Tony Faust and the Addie S. Riggin, and shares a 1927 handwritten document detailing the oyster beds owned by the family. The interview provides valuable insights into the local history of Port Norris and the oyster industry in the early 20th century.

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