Jean McGavock Lamb and her brother, James McGavock, were raised in Kennecott, Alaska. She was born in Seattle, Washington, but was brought to Alaska when she was a few months old. She lived there for the first six years of her life. Their father was a master mechanic who worked for the Kennecott Mine. When the family left in 1937, they moved to Denver, Colorado. At the time of her 1990 interview, Jean was living in Utah.