Paper making has been the economic backbone of Lee, Massachusetts, as well as other parts of the Western Massachusetts Berkshire area, for about 200 years. At one time, there were 25 paper mills in this town. The first successful paper from wood pulp happened here, as did many other firsts. In 2008, Schweitzer Mauduit, the largest local employer of paper makers, closed the doors of its four local paper mills, and Mead Westvaco closed one, leaving only one mill running. It is still running.
This documentary will be a look at how a small town with a deep history of paper making envisions its future, and it will give the community a way to look at its past.
The documentary tells the story of this paper making tradition, and the Paper Mills Documentary Project includes students from the Lee Middle School in the process. Students are learning the paper making heritage of their town as teachers find ways to incorporate local history and paper making into the curriculum. The director, active in a project called the Paper Trail, was involved in this animation as well, which was funded by Housatonic Heritage.
Sample for Paper Trail Exhibit, Lichtenstein Arts Center, September, 2010
To date, this project has been supported by Mass Humanities, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, High Meadow Foundation, and generous individuals.