Deborah Pickman Clifford

Deborah Clifford
Deborah Clifford

Time Period

1940 to Today

Subject Categories

Education, Writers

Notable Facts

Prominent Vermont historian and author, specializing in women's history. Wrote several biographies including, "The Passion of Abby Hemenway," and "Crusader for Freedom: A Life of Lydia Maria Child," and co-authored with her husband, "The Troubled Roar of the Waters: Vermont In Flood and Reconstruction, 1927-1931." First woman president of the Vermont Historical Society from 1981-1984 and member of the Vermont Women's History Project Steering Committee.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

03/22/1933

Date of Death

07/25/2008

Primary Residence

New Haven

Religion

Catholic

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Deborah Pickman Clifford was a Vermont historian and author. She who wrote three full-length biographies and co-authored a history of Vermont during the 1927 flood. She served as the first woman president of the Vermont Historical Society from 1981-1984 and was a member of the Vermont Women's History Project Steering Committee from its inception in 2004.

Born in Boston, Clifford attended the Covent of the Sacred Heart in Torresdale, Pennsylvania. She received an Honors Degree in history from Radcliffe College in 1957 and married Nicholas Clifford the same year. They moved to Cornwall, Vermont, in 1966 with their four daughters after her husband accepted a position as a history professor at Middlebury College. Clifford continued her education at the University of Vermont, where she received a M.A. in History in 1974.

Clifford wrote several significant articles about women in Vermont history and used her historical knowledge and research skills to become a skilled biographer of nineteenth-century women. Her books include: "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: a Biography of Julia Ward Howe," (1979) author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic;" "Crusader for Freedom: A Life of Lydia Maria Child," (1992) the writer and abolitionist; and "The Passion of Abby Hemenway: Memory, Spirit, and the Making of History" (2001). Hemenway is well-known in Vermont as the compiler of the five-volume "Vermont Historical Gazeteer." Together with her husband, Clifford wrote "The Troubled Roar of the Waters: Vermont in Flood and Reconstruction, 1927-1931," (2007) for which they won the Vermont Historical Society's Hathaway Award in 2008. Her "Remarkable Vermont Women" will be published posthumously in 2009.

In addition to her writing and research, Clifford was also involved in Vermont community organizations and historical societies. She served as the first female president of both the Vermont Historical Society in Barre and the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury (1981-1984). She was an editor for "Historic Roots," a magazine for adult new readers, from 1995 to 2000, and occasionally taught courses at Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, and Vermont College. Most recently she was a member of the Vermont Women's History Project and served on the Vermont Lincoln Bicentennial Committee. In 1995, she received the Governor's Award in Vermont History and has been recognized by the Vermont Historical Society twice for her articles. In September 2008, she was inducted posthumously into the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Organizations or Movements

  • Henry Sheldon Museum, Middlebury
  • Vermont Historical Society
  • New Haven Historical Society
  • Vermont Women's History Project
  • Vermont Lincoln Bicentennial Committee
  • Vermont Academy of Arts & Sciences

Occupations

  • Historian
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Teacher.

Education

  • Honors in History, Radcliffe College, (1957)
  • MA in History, University of Vermont (1974).

Additional Information (Bibliography)

Additional Images

Deborah Clifford (seated, on the left) at her 50th college reunion
Deborah Clifford (seated, on the left) at her 50th college reunion