How do we know what happened in Vermont a generation ago?

When you are 8 or 9 years old, a generation ago might seem bromleyalpineslidesmlike a long time ago. But your teachers, parents and grandparents might disagree.  They might remember what Vermont was like in the 1980s. A generation might not seem like a long time ago.

One way historians learn about the recent past is by talking with people who were alive then. Collecting an oral history can be a good way to learn about history.  Ask someone what it was like to watch television before cable or satellites. What did they watch when Vermont had only three or four TV stations? Ask someone when they first used a computer to do work or write a letter. What other questions could you ask to learn about Vermont in the 1980s?

sanderscelebratingsmHistorians look at newspapers to learn what people wanted to know about in the past.  You can read about Madeleine Kunin’s election campaign in 1984. You can see advertisements for cars or clothes.  Look at the pictures and think about how styles have changed. Check at your local library to see if they have old newspapers from the 1980s.

You can also find information online about Vermont in the 1980s. Learn about the history of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream from the Ben & Jerry’s website. But remember that good historians ask questions about who is telling the story.  

Make a list of questions you have about Vermont in the 1980s. Then find an adult to tell you about life in Vermont a generation ago.

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Thinking about Historyarticle

How long does it take for something to become history?  Some historians think it takes 50 years.  Other people say yesterday is history.  What do you think?

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link Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream History (outside link)
books When did the lottery come to Vermont?
Playing the Odds (PDF)

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