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Before Your Time
22 minutes | 3 months ago
A Town Solves a Problem
Town meeting is central to our identity as a little state on a human scale that does things differently. But what happens to town meeting when it needs to change during a pandemic? Or when it changes because Vermont itself has changed? In this episode, we discuss a film made in Pittsford, Vermont in 1950 to promote democracy in postwar Japan. We review the changes that needed to be made to town meeting during this pandemic year. And we talk with political theory professor Meg Mott about ongoing threats to town meeting and self-governance. This episode is part of the “Why it Matters: Civics and Electoral Participation” initiative sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Federation for State Humanities Councils.
21 minutes | 3 months ago
Send Me a Box
We examine some of the products that people have mailed from and to Vermont, from maple syrup to complete houses and almost everything in between. Includes segments about a sugarmaker in East Barnard, Civil War letters, kit houses, and the Vermont Country Store.
24 minutes | 10 months ago
Vermont on the Silver Screen
From A Vermont Romance to Funny Farm, our state has been featured in films for over a century. What are the myths that Hollywood creates about our lives in Vermont? And what are the myths that we create ourselves? In this episode, we take a look at how Vermont has been depicted in movies, from A Vermont Romance in 1916 through 2005’s Thank You for Smoking. We explore a documentary shot in Chelsea in the early 1970s, and consider the stories that we tell about ourselves, both onscreen and off. Image of Kenneth O'Donnell by Suzanne Opton.
15 minutes | a year ago
Green Up Day
Vermont’s Green Up Day celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In 1970, the day featured closed interstate highways, coerced schoolchildren, and shouted encouragement from a buzzing Cessna.
23 minutes | a year ago
The Long Enough Trail
Stories from those who founded, hiked, and loved Vermont’s Long Trail, including the first women to through-hike the “footpath in the wilderness” in 1927. We talk with Ben Rose, former Executive Director of the Green Mountain Club, about James P. Taylor, an early visionary and promoter for the Long Trail. We listen to a 1987 interview with Catherine Robbins, one of the "Three Musketeers," the first women to hike the trail in 1927. And we speak with Wendy Turner, one of the first women to serve as a caretaker at a Long Trail lodge.
27 minutes | a year ago
Princes and Free Men
It’s well-known that Vermont is one of the whitest states in the Union. And so the stories of African American Vermonters can sometimes get forgotten, no matter how important they have been to our state’s and our nation’s history. In this episode we examine the lives of several influential African American Vermonters who lived in our state before the Civil War. In two cases, before Vermont was even a state. We learn about Lucy Terry Prince, who created the oldest known work of literature written by an African American; Alexander Twilight, the first person of African descent to receive a college degree in the United States, who educated almost 2500 students during his tenure at the Orleans County Grammar School; and Martin Freeman, an educator from Rutland who moved to Liberia because he couldn't achieve the same rights and privileges as his white peers.
30 minutes | 2 years ago
After the Crossing
Many different groups of people, from many different continents, have helped build our state. But from the 19th century through 2019, the stories of immigrants have largely been excluded from the popular image of Vermont. In this episode, we learn about Burlington's immigrant groups through their food, explore a comic book series made about the experiences of undocumented farm laborers in Vermont, review how Swedes were recruited to come to our state in the 1880s, and hear about Burlington's "Little Jerusalem" neighborhood.
20 minutes | 2 years ago
Green Mountain Grab Bag
It’s a shame that some of the things we record get edited out of our stories. So here’s an episode of lost clips: bike whistles, pewter purists, halfway houses on the border, needlework, and the grave of “Vermont’s Donald Trump.”
33 minutes | 2 years ago
A Place for Us
Queer lives and queer histories in Vermont were often kept private for good reason: the fear of losing one’s job, home, or family. The fear of violence. But it’s important to know that LGBTQ people are here, have always been here, and are part of the state’s history.
20 minutes | 2 years ago
Herbs and Remedies
It can seem like every town in Vermont once had a pharmacist brewing their own special blend of medicine. Some of these cures were derived from herbal folk remedies. Others were created from a lot of alcohol, some food coloring, and a pinch of carefully honed hokum.
28 minutes | 2 years ago
The power of the press
A massive wooden printing press made in the mid-17th century has a place of pride in the Vermont History Museum, and not just because it’s old. It represents both the history of written law in the state, and the crucial role that journalism – the press – plays in a democracy.
26 minutes | 2 years ago
Built to last
Plenty of Vermont’s historic buildings are exactly the traditional homes, churches, and meeting houses commonly associated with small New England towns. But as the state changed in the 20th century, its architecture did too. Now, experts are looking more closely at buildings that look nothing like what came before — and in some cases, look nothing like buildings anywhere else.
25 minutes | 2 years ago
Anything for speed
People have raced cars in the Green Mountains since 1903. There were racetracks in every corner of the state: at fairgrounds, in farmers’ back fields, and finally at dozens of dedicated racetracks. Thousands of Vermonters have been drivers, mechanics, track officials, and spectators at those tracks over the past 115 years. The Vermont Historical Society recorded their stories for a new oral history collection as part of their latest exhibit, Anything for Speed: Automobile Racing in Vermont. On our latest history podcast, learn about the state's racing scene from the people who created it.
25 minutes | 2 years ago
Coming home from the Great War
More than 600 Vermonters died overseas fighting in World War I. But thousands more brought their unique experiences of battle back to their home state.
20 minutes | 3 years ago
Tales behind the tombstones
Many of Vermont’s cemeteries date back multiple centuries. They’re filled with worn-down stones that may only offer glimpses of the personal histories of the dead. But these cemeteries still hold lessons for the people who visit and research them today.
23 minutes | 3 years ago
Mobility for the masses
Many Vermonters felt a sense of liberation during the nation’s first “bike boom” in the 1890s. Bikes became cheaper and easier to ride, eventually revolutionizing personal transportation and recreation. Vermont's early bike clubs were the province of elites: mostly wealthy, white men. But underrepresented groups took up the new technology soon after, and today's bicycle groups provide mobility and community to a wide range of residents.
22 minutes | 3 years ago
Talk about the weather
Vermonters love weather. They love bragging about it, complaining about it, hiding inside from it, and playing outside in it. It’s a topic of conversation across the state. One expert believes that's due to Vermont's constantly changing conditions. "Weather can be pretty extreme," says Roger Hill, a forecaster who runs Weathering Heights and appears on Radio Vermont stations. "There's a sort of normalcy bias that we all have that we carry with us. We don't realize that it can be really off-the-charts extreme." Hill says Vermont's position halfway between the tropics and the poles contributes to that variability. And it's caused many of the state's most historic weather events. In this podcast, Roger Hill describes the past and future of Vermont's weather patterns. Amanda Gustin and Eileen Corcoran examine an antique weather station. Steve Long shows how a landscape tells the story of the Hurricane of 1938. And Larry Coffin recounts Vermont's "Year Without a Summer."
21 minutes | 3 years ago
More than books
Vermont's 183 public libraries are icons of the state's history. But they're also centers of civic engagement for modern cities and towns. When most of these institutions were first built, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they had a simpler purpose. "It was bathrooms and books," says Bixby Memorial Library director Jane Spencer. Farmers would stop off to use the public restrooms on visits to town, and nearby residents would supplement their education by reading for pleasure. Libraries were a common way for Vermonters who made fortunes out-of-state to honor their hometowns with function and style. The Bixby, for example, occupies an ornate Greek revival building in Vergennes. "These buildings were significant structures in the towns," says Paul Carnahan of the Vermont Historical Society. "People had a lot of pride in those buildings." While some have traded in their filigrees for more modern touches, they're still key to town life. And in an age when books are losing their primacy as sources of information, local libraries have adapted to house more than just bathrooms and books. On this podcast, preservationist and historian William Hosely describes the architectural significance of Vermont's libraries. Joy Worland, from the Vermont Department of Libraries, talks about how the state's decentralized system is unique. And the Bixby Library's Jane Spencer and Paula Moore discuss how their institution has evolved.
25 minutes | 3 years ago
Knitters, weavers and “women’s work”
Vermont today has no shortage of knitters, crocheters, rug hookers, silvers, sewers and felters. Some are avid hobbyists, and some make a living from their craft. But all are part of a long history of fiber arts in Vermont. Household production across New England spiked in the late 18th century. In Vermont, a state-sponsored silk production initiative brought women into a new trade. In the years since, innovative artisans like Elizabeth Fisk and Patty Yoder have reinvented traditional crafts — and in the process, redefined what’s sometimes been dismissed as “women’s work.” On this episode, the Shelburne Museum's Katie Wood Kirchoff and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich discuss New England textile artisans who blurred the lines between art and business. The weekly knitting group at Montpelier’s Yarn store talk about finding community through fiber arts. Plus, Amanda Gustin and Mary Rogstad explore an exhibit at the the Vermont History Museum that reveals the psychology of silk production.
22 minutes | 3 years ago
The Land of Gin and Whiskey
Visitors who come to Vermont seeking artisanal alcohol may not realize that it used to be one of the driest states in the nation: Prohibition lasted longer here than almost any other part of the country. But some experts say that dry spell may have led to today's booming alcohol culture. On this episode, an old homemade grappa still leads us on a tour of taverns, lost apples, stone dust, boarding houses, and back-to-the-land homebrewers.
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