Each year in September, members of the Vermont Historical Society gather in Montpelier to elect new officers and trustees, review the events of the year past, and learn about a topic in Vermont history. Please see below for a flavor of past events.
Watch the site in August of 2016 for the next topic of historical intrigue.
2015: Wild and Woolly! Animals in Vermont History
Saturday, September 26 • 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Pavilion Building, 109 State Street, Montpelier
What did the animals of Vermont contribute to our Green Mountain State? How did they add to our spirit of independence? What changes did they make on our landscape, our economy, and our culture – and how did we change them?
In our keynote, Rebecca Woods will present a new approach to researching and writing history by focusing on animals. As a case study, she will discuss her research in tracking the exportation of merino sheep from Vermont to Australia during the 19th century, illustrating the global reach of Vermont’s agricultural past.
In the afternoon, Erica Donnis will share the history of Shelburne and Billings Farms as “model” farms, which sought to improve animal breeding in Vermont, and Kirk Webster will highlight the surprisingly rich and varied history of beekeeping in Vermont.
All activities will take place at the Pavilion Building, 109 State Street, Montpelier.
8:30 – Breakfast & Registration
9:30 – Business Meeting
11:00 – Keynote with Rebecca Woods
Rebecca Woods is an environmental historian and an historian of science. She received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013, and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and a Lecturer in History at Columbia University. Her forthcoming book, The Herds Shot Round the World: Native Breeds and the British Empire, 1800-1900, explores the formation, circulation, and significance of so-called native British breeds of sheep and cattle in the colonies.
12:00 – Lunch
1:30 – "Model Farms in Vermont"
Erica Donnis is a graduate of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, and works as an independent historian and museum consultant. Her 2010 book The History of Shelburne Farms: A Changing Landscape, An Evolving Vision, commissioned by Shelburne Farms, won the 2011 Historic New England Book Prize.
2:30 - "Beekeeping in Vermont"
Kirk Webster is a beekeeper from New Haven who moved to Vermont in the 1970s and studied beekeeping with Charles Mraz of Middlebury. He has written on beekeeping history as well as new methods in natural beekeeping based on traditional practices.
Coffee, lunch, and complete program of events are included in the registration fee.
To register, call Diane Campbell at (802) 479-8503 or register online here. Registration Deadline: Friday, September 18 by 5:00 pm.
Thanks to our sponsors for helping us to host this event.
Co-sponsored by Bates & Murray, Inc.
Supported by: Capitol Plaza Corporation
2014: Image & Identity in the Green Mountain State
What is Vermont, exactly? Is it idyllic, pure, and quiet, or is it a gritty, hardscrabble backwater? How many different things has Vermont meant to different people over the years? How is it viewed from the outside—and how do Vermonters view their own state? We'll spend the day exploring these themes, with a broad sweep of history from the state's founding right on up to new research on today's Vermonters.
8:30 – Breakfast & Registration
9:30 – Business Meeting
11:00 – Keynote with Jill Mudgett
Historian Jill Mudgett will present an overview of the cultural history of Vermont's image and identity, viewed from inside and outside the state.
12:00 – Lunch
1:15 – Vermont v. Hollywood: The Green Mountain State on Film
Public Programs Coordinator Amanda Gustin will present a short history of Vermont on film and television, from silent films to classic Hollywood right up to modern television.
2:00 – The Vermont Roots Migration Project: Early Findings
Cherie Morse, professor and researcher at the University of Vermont, will present the initial findings of the Vermont Roots Migration Project. The project began with a survey in spring 2014 designed to track the migration of those who went to high school in Vermont. Where are they now? Why did they leave—or stay in—Vermont? How do they reflect on their home state?
Online registration is now closed. If you are still interested in registering, there may be limited spots available; please call Diane Campbell at (802) 479-8503 for more information.
2013: Colleges, Communes, & Coops in the 1970s
Colleges, Communes & Coops in the 1970s: Their Contributions to Vermont's Organic Food Movement
Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Pavilion Building, 109 State Street, Montpelier
By the late 1970s, Vermont was home to an estimated 100 communes. Though the inhabitants of the communes were almost universally identified as hippies, there was great variety in size, organization, and philosophy of these groups. Some retreated to Vermont as a refuge from radical political fights of the late 1960s and early 1970s, others saw Vermont as ripe for a political takeover, and still others escaped from the cities to live simply and closer to nature. Many arrived with no purpose other than to participate in the communal experience.
During the same period educational innovations focusing on ecology and sustainability were started, creating new institutions or building on existing college programs. Several of Vermont's food buyers' and food growers' cooperatives, many organized by commune members, also began during this time period.
At this annual meeting we'll examine the connections between the colleges, communes and co-ops of the 1970s and their members' contributions to the development and success of the organic food movement in Vermont and beyond.
The Annual Meeting & Conference are sponsored by:
Bates & Murray, Inc.
Co-operative Insurance Companies
Deep Root Organic Growers Co-op
Healthy Living Market & Cafe
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets
Schedule of Events:
9:00 - 9:30 am
Check-in at the front desk of the Vermont History Museum
Coffee & breakfast in the Snelling Room
9:30 - 11:00 am
Business Meeting of the Vermont Historical Society
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Keynote Address by Dona Brown of the University of Vermont
12:00 - 1:15 pm
Lunch in the Snelling Room
1:15 - 2:30 pm
Colleges and Communes panel discussion
Moderator: Jackie Calder, VHS Curator
Panelists: Dan Chodorkoff, Roger Fox, Jake Guest, Roz Payne
2:30 - 3:45 pm
Cooperatives panel discussion
Moderator: Susan Harlow
Panelists: Grace Gershuny, Jim Higgins, Liz Guest, Larry Kupferman
2012: Vermont Votes–Historic Elections in the Green Mountain State
Vermont Historical Society Annual Meeting, 2012:
Vermont Votes—Historic Elections in the Green Mountain State
September 22, 2012 at the Pavilion Building, 109 State Street in Montpelier, 8:30 am-4:00 pm.
Lawmakers on occasion have passed important questions to the Vermont’s citizens through referendum votes. In our 2012 annual meeting, historian Frank Bryan examined four referendum ballot issues that have been presented in Vermont: the Green Mountain Parkway, the service of women in juries, local option for alcohol sales and the Equal Rights Amendment.
For over a century, Vermont’s Republican Party held a lock on the governor’s office. The election of Phil Hoff in 1962 broke that trend, signaling important changes in the political landscape of the Green Mountains.
Political commentator Chris Graff moderated a panel discussion about statewide politics in that era and the significance of the 1962 gubernatorial election. The panel included
Anthony Marro and Stephen C. Terry, two of the authors of the biography of Phil Hoff.
Keynote Speaker: Greg Sanford
Greg Sanford, Archivist for the State of Vermont since 1982, retired in 2012. After 30 years, his mind is filled with Vermont’s history, and he shared his perspective and his humor.
Greg graduated from UVM with an M.A., working under the tutelage of the notable Sam Hand. In the 1970s, he was the assistant director of the Aiken Oral History Project and the Institute Archives at MIT.
In 2002, Greg received the New England Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award, given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the archival community in New England. In 2012, his research was honored as vital to the state and citizens of Vermont and he was awarded the Center for Research on Vermont’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also recognized with the Vermont Press Association’s Matthew Lyon Award, and this year, the Vermont legislature named the Middlesex archives center building in his honor.
The public is alway invited to attend our annual meetings!
To view or print the registration form, please click here.
If you have questions, please contact Diane Campbell at (802) 479-8503.
We are grateful to our sponsors: Bates & Murray, Inc.; Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC: James C. Condos, Secretary of State, State of Vermont; Vermont State Employees Association; and vtdigger.org; and to our co-sponsors: Capitol Plaza Corporation; Center for Research on Vermont, Hilltop Restaurant; and the University of Vermont History Department.