Literary Archives at UVM: Kinsey, Mosher, and Budbill

Vermont lost three literary giants in the last year: Leland Kinsey, Howard Frank Mosher, and David Budbill. Special Collections is fortunate to house the papers of all three of these authors, and their collections serve as a rich source for understanding the connections between these writers.

Mosher reviews Kinsey’s Not One Man’s Work. (Click image to enlarge.)

A particularly deep connection existed between Mosher and Kinsey. Their friendship spanned nearly 50 years, dating back to a time when Mosher taught Kinsey at the University of Vermont. Mosher became a great champion of Kinsey’s work and his papers are full of correspondence advocating on Leland’s behalf.

One example of Mosher’s advocacy is from 1995, when a series of letters show Mosher attempting to assist in getting a collection of Kinsey’s poems, Not One Man’s Work, published. As part of this effort, Mosher reached out to a number of writers asking them for letters of support for Leland, including David Budbill.

Budbill’s letter of support for Kinsey’s poems shows the respect he held for the work of his fellow Northeast Kingdom poet. In an excerpt from the letter, Budbill notes:

But perhaps the most touching and powerful of these poems are the ones about family. Whether Lee is writing about pushing his son on a swing—“Swinging into the Night”—or his son’s nightmares—“Night Terrors”—or the light sensitivity he’s given to his daughter—“Sneezes”—or about the farming life his parents led—numerous poems throughout—he writes with a passion and compassion and an accuracy that is both tender and powerful.
The sound, the tone, in these poems stands outside the current anguished shrillness of much contemporary poetry; here instead I hear a kind of formal calm, a gracious and distanced respect toward idea, situation and character that is shocking, practically revolutionary, in its contrariness to what is au courant.

Budbill responds to Carruth’s suggestions. (Click image to enlarge.)

In the papers of David Budbill and those of his fellow poet and great friend, the late Hayden Carruth, one sees a similarly generous relationship. Budbill often asked Carruth for advice on his poetry, and the following letter shows Budbill’s mixed reaction to some of Carruth’s advice on the manuscript for Judevine.

Judevine is both a collection of poems and a play that Budbill created from those poems. Lost Nation Theater, in Montpelier, opened their new season with a production of Judevine, “in honor & in memory of David,” and an opening night gala hosted by Rusty DeWees and Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, with David’s widow, Lois Eby, and daughter, Nadine Budbill, in attendance. Performances of the play continue at Lost Nation through May 7.

An example of Budbill’s revisions to Judevine. (Click image to enlarge.)

The passing of these three writers is a great loss, for their families and friends, and for the many fans of their work. All three leave behind their literary works, and all three had the foresight to leave us with their archives, revealing the stories behind the stories and poems, as well as the deep relationships that informed these works.

Here at Special Collections, we will miss periodically touching base with all three, as well as reading their latest works, but we are honored and deeply appreciative that they selected us as the home for their archives. Our hope is that their papers will be a great source for many years to come for those wishing to gain a deeper insight into these writers and their works.

For more information about these collections, see the following guides or contact us.

David Budbill Papers

Hayden Carruth Papers

Leland Kinsey Papers

Howard Frank Mosher Papers

Submitted by Chris Burns,
Manuscripts Curator

 

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UVM Experiments with Rubber Plant

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I’ve been on the lookout for photos of local World War II victory gardens, so this image caught my eye as I was searching through a carton of publicity photographs that Special Collections received from UVM’s Extension Service.  It is one of three photos taken by Burlington photographer L. L. McAllister that show a group of women in a field. The photos immediately led to questions. Where were the photos taken? Who were the women in uniform? Why were they working in what looked like a field of planted dandelions? Many photos later, in another carton, I found a fourth photo in the series that provided the clue I needed to answer my questions.

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In the fourth photo, a UVM agronomist displays a full-grown dandelion plant–including roots–with a label that reads, “Taraxacum-kok-saghyz/Russian Rubber-Bearing Plants/65 Days From Planting.” At that time, UVM’s Agricultural Experiment Station generally undertook projects designed to solve problems related to Vermont conditions, but during World War II , the Experiment Station worked on projects to help the war effort. One of those projects was a study of the potential yield of seed and rubber from a Russian dandelion, Taraxacum-kok-saghyz.

When the Japanese cut off most of the world’s supply of natural rubber, the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Plant Industry initiated an emergency rubber project to explore the potential of growing rubber within the continental United States. From 1942-1944, the Department of Agriculture conducted a program of field-scale production and research at various locations with conditions suitable for growing Russian dandelions. Vermont was one of the 23 test sites.

Under the direction of agronomists Paul Miller and H. L. Smith, one acre of the Russian dandelion seed was planted at the UVM Farm, then located off East Avenue in Burlington. A major challenge to growing the dandelion was the need to keep the plants free from weeds. With farm labor at a shortage, the Experiment Station turned to volunteers. On July 27, 1942, the Burlington Free Press included an article headlined “Women’s Volunteer Drivers Corps Gives Up Sun. Comforts To Weed Taraxacum-kok-saghyz.” Thirty-five members of the Drivers Corps gathered on a Sunday to weed, thin and transplant the dandelions. The article is illustrated with the L.L. McAllister photographs.

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Mrs. Gerald E. Prescott, the leader of the Burlington unit of the Volunteer Drivers Corp, and platoon leaders Mrs. Esther I. Adler, Miss Barbara Mitchell, and Mrs. Thomas Loudon directed the weeding.

The Extension Service continued the trial the following summer. In August 1943, the Burlington Free Press reported that almost a ton of roots were harvested and sent to a research laboratory in Philadelphia for analysis. Unfortunately, the analysis revealed that the Burlington harvest contained mostly rogue dandelions that yielded little or no rubber.

For more information about the emergency rubber project:
Whaley, W. Gordon and John A.  Bowen. Russian Dandelion (Kok-Soghyz): An Emergency Source of Natural Rubber. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 618. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1947.

Learn about current research on rubber-bearing dandelions:
Bomgardner, Melody. Dandelions, the Scourge of Lawns, May Be a Fount of Rubber. Chemical and Engineering News 94 (2016): 28-29.

Contributed by Prudence Doherty
Public Services Librarian

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Spring Semester Events and Exhibits

The Spring 2017 semester is off to a busy start. In addition to teaching classes, building collections and supporting researchers, we have been planning some exciting outreach events and installing exhibits. We hope to see you this spring at one or more of these events.

The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript
Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 6:00 pm
Ray Clemens, the Curator of Early Books & Manuscripts at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, will talk about the Voynich manuscript, an early 15th-century codex that has been called the world’s most mysterious book. The book was written by hand in an unknown language that no one has yet been able to decipher. Colorful illustrations of unidentifiable plants, zodiac signs, astronomical and cosmological diagrams, and naked women in bathing pools add to the mystery.

Dear Diary
Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 6:00 pm
For Women’s History Month, we are joining Preservation Burlington to showcase the words of Vermont women. We will read selections from the diaries, letters and writings of women who attended, worked, or taught at colleges and universities, including Ellen Hamilton, one of UVM’s first female students. Audience participation is strongly encouraged. Bring your own journal to read.

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare
Friday, April 21, 2017, 12:00-1:30 pm
Join us to celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare with festivities and cake.

Exhibits: “Illustrated Herbals” and “Cures What Ails You
We are displaying a selection from our collection of illustrated herbals in the Bailey/Howe Library lobby, including our Italian manuscript (circa 1500), outstanding 16th-century examples, and work by contemporary book artists. Downstairs in Special Collections, “Cures What Ails You” features bold advertisements promoting patent medicines made in Vermont from about 1860-1915.

All events are free and open to the public. For information, call 802-656-2138 or email uvmsc@uvm.edu.

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A Desirable Gift Book

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In 1857 UVM graduate (1839, 1845) Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Jr. wrote a hymn that became a beloved Christmas carol. Some accounts say he wrote “The Three Kings of Orient” (now known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are”) for a Christmas pageant at the General Theological Seminary, while others say he wrote it for his nieces and nephews in Burlington, Vermont, where his father was the Episcopalian bishop. He included it in his 1863 collection, Carols, Hymns, and Songs, and in 1865 it was issued as an illustrated seasonal gift book.

An advertisement for the gift book that ran in the December 12, 1865 issue of the Baltimore Daily Commercial noted that “each page was printed in oil colors from exquisite designs” and was available in “extra cloth gilt” for $5.00 or “morocco, gilt or antique,” for $8.00. The ad included a description from the Christian Intelligencer, “This famous carol is richly embellished by colored lithographs, six in number, representing the adoration of the Babe of Bethlehem …. The designs are good and the execution admirable,” making it “a desirable book for Christmas.”

kings-0001A search of the Burlington Weekly Free Press, Hopkins’ hometown paper, found that a local bookseller offered Three Kings of Orient for Christmas giving in 1866. Our copy was given to a Kitty Thompson by her Uncle Frank for Christmas in 1870.

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First Fall Presentation: Breaking the Deckle*

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Please join us on October 11 at 5:30 pm for “Breaking the Deckle: Using the Paper Arts for Social Justice,” a presentation by Peace Paper Project’s Drew Matott.

Matott is a master papermaker with an expertise using traditional papermaking as a form of trauma therapy, social engagement, and community activism. In this presentation, he will discuss how he became involved with the paper arts and describe the genesis of the community papermaking programs he has co-founded, including Green Door Studio, Combat Paper Project, Peace Paper Project, Papermaking as Art Therapy, and Panty Pulping.

Matott directs the vision and strategy of Peace Paper Project, which utilizes traditional hand papermaking as a means of engaging communities in art practices which bring people together, broadcast their stories, and transform their fibers into meaningful art pieces. The project operates everywhere from private workshops to public demonstrations in order to perpetuate the art of hand papermaking while adapting to the needs of each specific community. Peace Paper merges its skill set of papermaking, bookbinding, printmaking, and creative writing with the unique practices and concepts of host communities as a way of empowering  collaboration.

Peace Paper Project uses papermaking and the book arts as a form of social engagement, advocacy, therapy, and community building across the globe. Since 2011, Matott has helped launch papermaking studios in Australia, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Workshop participants pulling sheets at Kaghitane Hand Papermaking Center in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012.

Other local colleges will also be hosting Peace Paper Project activities. In Panty Pulping workshops at St. Michael’s College on October 10 and at Champlain College on October 13, participants will confront sexual and domestic violence by transforming underwear into handmade paper. Champlain will also host an exhibit from October 9-29.

Malala, made at a Panty Pulping workshop held in Eagle River, Wisconsin in 2013.

The presentation will be held in Special Collections at Bailey/Howe Library. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email uvmsc@uvm.edu or call 656-2138.

* Deckle: a frame on the mold used to shape the pulp when making paper by hand.
-Oxford American Dictionary.

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Arbor Day Proclamations

Arbor Day Proclamation!

It’s the first Friday in May, so that means it’s Arbor Day in Vermont. For 130 years, Vermonters have joined the nation-wide effort to plant trees. Special Collections intern Perri Moreno looks at the history of Arbor Day in Vermont using gubernatorial proclamations, photographs, and newspaper articles in a short online exhibit, Arbor Day Proclamations.  View the exhibit here.

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Vermont Statehood: A Dissenting Opinion from the Allen Family

Vermont celebrates 225 years of statehood in 2016, having formally entered the Union as the fourteenth state on March 4, 1791. There was a great deal of popular support for joining the United States at the time, but it was far from the only option being considered. Some Vermont citizens favored remaining an independent state, while others advocated for joining Great Britain.

The faction headed by the Allen brothers and Governor Thomas Chittenden had held numerous diplomatic discussions over the years with representatives from Great Britain, most notably the Haldimand negotiations during the Revolutionary War. Negotiations with Britain continued long after the war, right up until Vermont’s admittance into the Union. Levi Allen, brother of Ethan and Ira, played a large role in these discussion, in no small part to protect his growing land holdings and trade activity in Quebec.

Levi was sent to England in 1789 by his brothers and Governor Chittenden with instructions “to Assure the British Court that Vermont was truly from local situation as well as inclination firmly attached to them.” In addition, Levi pursued a number of commercial opportunities including an effort to provide the Royal Navy with ship timber. Levi attempted to return via the St. Lawrence, but the captain diverted the ship to Georgia due to weather conditions. Returning to London to protect his return cargo in early 1791, Levi belatedly learned of Vermont’s entrance into the Union.

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When Levi finally discovered the news, he was incredulous. In a letter written from London to his wife Nancy and his brother Ira dated August 20, 1791, Levi complains, “I am in a very disagreeable Situation here, having no Advices for more than twelve months from either, or any Other from Vermont. Reports are that Vermont have Joined federal Congress, which neither myself nor any the Friends of Vermont here Credit, as we cannot think You have So much alter’d from Your former fixed Opinions, and so contrary to Your real Interest.”

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Later in the letter, after discussing various business and political questions, Levi reiterates his opposition in even stronger terms, “hope in the name of Common Sense, you have not, and in the name of almighty God, you will not join Congress. Gov C—-n, my deceased Brother, Yourself, Col. Lyon, Clark, Enos, Hitchcock, Spafford’s, Coit, Eben! &c &c &c all being fully determined to the Contrary when I left you.”

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Levi, and others who preferred becoming a part of Great Britain, were attracted to the idea for economic reasons. Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River were major trade routes for northwestern Vermont, and whether Vermont became a part of the United States or Great Britain had great implications for commercial relations with partners along this route to the north. Levi returned to Vermont in the 1790’s and continued to pursue land and trade opportunities in Quebec, but like his brother Ira fell into a great deal of debt, ultimately dying in prison in Burlington in 1801. This letter from Levi and many more can be found in the Allen Family Papers in Special Collections.

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Contributed by Chris Burns,
Curator of Manuscripts and University Archivist 

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Spring 2016 Programs–March 1 and 17

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MARCH 1, 5:30
In and Out of Print

On March 1 at 5:30, Special Collections will host UVM art professor Steven Kostell for a discussion of his work investigating forms of mediation, production and collaboration through explorations in art, design and the artist book.

Steven Kostell is an intermedia artist and designer whose work explores the convergence of traditional and experimental techniques in print and digital media, resulting in hybrid forms. His work is grounded in material-based production and image processing, involving papermaking, printmaking, artist books, and multi-channel audio/video installations.

Kostell’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at such venues as the Center for Book and Paper at Columbia College, Chicago; the Qijiang International Printmaking Festival, Chongqing, China; Ozu Washi Gallery and the Oji Paper Museum, Tokyo, Japan; New Forms Festival, Vancouver, BC and the Laura Haber Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received his BFA from Indiana State and his MFA from Arizona State University. Before coming to Vermont, Kostell taught at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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MARCH 17, 5:30
Public Monuments: The Politics and Processes of Commemoration

Bill Lipke and Bill Mares will present an illustrated lecture summarizing the research which they undertook for their recently published book on commemorative monuments from the American Revolutionary War to the present, Grafting Memory. In their essays, Lipke and Mares explore the evolving practices that allow memories to pass through generations. From monuments to cemeteries, paintings and living memorials, they present diverse examples, including many close to home, like Burlington’s Battery Park, to those farther away, like national cemeteries in France.

Bill Lipke is UVM professor emeritus in Art History and a former director of the Fleming Museum. He has written about landscape painting and modern architecture. Bill Mares has been a journalist and high school teacher, and has fifteen books to his credit on subjects ranging from beer and coffee to Vermont politics.

Both presentations will be held in Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library. They are free and open to the public. For more information, email uvmsc@uvm.edu or call 656-2138.

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Burlington’s First City Market

Since 2002, shoppers have been buying groceries at Onion River Co-op’s City Market on South Winooski Avenue in Burlington, Vermont. The store is very successful, with over 11,000 members/owners and thousands of shoppers every day. Prompted by a photo in our Burlington photograph collection, I recently investigated the short history of Burlington’s first city market, also located on South Winooski Avenue, and found that it did not fare as well.

The city purchased land for a market before 1865, but progress was slow. In his 1867 annual report, Mayor Wales acknowledged that there was disagreement about the need for a public market, but he felt that once established it would be a great blessing, and urged the alderman to experiment in a prudent way. The following year, Mayor Ballou was more blunt, saying that the city should move on the market or sell the land.

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The City Market lot east of White Street (now Winooski Avenue) between College and Main Streets can be seen in this section from an 1869 map.

Although Ballou didn’t mention the market in his 1869 report, the aldermen had chosen to move. On December 3, 1869, the Burlington Free Press announced that the city market building was nearly completed and ready for occupancy. The announcement provides a good description of the site, the building, and the first vendors.

The new market site and its surrounding grounds were created by an ambitious program to fill a deep hollow that ran through the growing city center. The newspaper anticipated that more filling would be undertaken to make room for vendors and customers.

The brick building, one of many designed by master carpenter and contractor Elmore Johnson, was 104 feet long and 51 feet wide. A deck above the roof provided light and ventilation. Stalls lined both sides of a 14-foot wide main hall. A second hall ran east-west through the center of the building. The 12 x 18 foot stalls were separated by 7-foot partitions. Each stall had a sliding door and a cellar under it. The building was lighted with gas, and water came from the city aqueduct. All of the stalls had been rented. Eight were devoted to meat, several to groceries and general merchandise, one to fish, and one to refreshments.

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City Market is the long brick building in the lower right. Main Street runs through the center of the photo, which was taken between 1882 and 1887. The ravine east of the market was still being filled.

Shortly after the building was completed, the city council passed a city market ordinance that established rules for its operation and created the position of superintendent of markets to manage the market and collect rent. In his 1870 annual report, Mayor D. C. Linsley was optimistic about the market’s future. The following year, Mayor L. C. Dodge proclaimed that while he had not originally supported the market, the city needed to make it successful.

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Some vendors who rented stalls at the City Market advertised in the Burlington Free Press.

In February 1870, the Burlington Free Press acknowledged that produce sellers were beginning to appreciate the market. At least one vendor, “Berry Man” Joseph Chauvin, did exceptionally well. In the summer of 1871, he sold 9,500 quarts of blueberries, strawberries,  raspberries, and blackberries, and the following summer, he sold an astonishing 14,400 quarts of blueberries.

Unfortunately, merchants preferred the growing downtown to the west, and the stall rents collected by Superintendent F. Smith failed to cover market expenses. In his 1872 annual report, Mayor Dodge complained about the “very unsatisfactory state of affairs.”  He told the city council that it was time to “kill or cure.” Their cure involved leasing the market building. In October 1873 the market ordinance was repealed, and after an initial rental failed, local attorney and businessman Levi Underwood leased the market building for ten years. His plans must not have succeeded, because by the early 1880s, one observer noted that the market had grown “into disfavor, was abandoned, and now stands unoccupied.”

For the next several decades, city departments used the building for storage and work space. The city market grounds also included a much more successful city scale, used by wood, hay and other vendors. The city leased land on the College Street side for a building that housed a skating rink (1884) and later a store, and then built the Fletcher Free Library there. The Chittenden County jail was built on the Main Street side of the lot in 1887. In 1925, the old city market building (which then housed the Street Department) was torn down to make way for the new Central Fire Station.

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The city market building (center) in 1925, just before it was demolished to make way for a new fire house. The Fletcher Free Library can be seen at the left, and the jail is on the right.

Contributed by Prudence Doherty,
Public Services Librarian

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Views of Saint Helena

While preparing for a presentation on book illustrations this summer, we came across a rare volume of prints in our Rare Book collection that has special historical significance today (October 15).  George Hutchins Bellasis’s Views of Saint Helena (London: printed by John Tyler, 1815) contains six hand-colored aquatint landscapes, each measuring approximately 9 inches by 14.5 inches, of the island that became the final home of the deposed emperor Napoleon. He would spend the last six years of his life in exile on Saint Helena.

St. Helena, taken from sea.

St. Helena, taken from sea.

Napoleon stepped ashore on Saint Helena on October 15, 1815. It was the final act of a long drama that had turned Europe upside down, as Napoleon built and defended an empire against a series of coalitions led by Great Britain. Once before, in 1814, Napoleon had been defeated and captured, only to escape exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba in 1815. His final defeat at Waterloo in June 1815 led to the determination of his British captors to imprison the emperor in a place where escape was virtually impossible.

They chose well: Saint Helena was, and remains, one of the most remote inhabited places on earth. Located about 1,200 miles west of Africa and 1,800 miles east of South America, Saint Helena is still a British territory, with a current population of about 7,750.

Thanks to an eight-month visit to Saint Helena by soldier and artist George H. Bellasis, a certain segment of the British population soon got to see what the newly-famous island looked like. Bellasis, a young officer in the 19th Light Dragoons of the British East India Company, had been put ashore on Saint Helena in 1804 when he became too sick to continue his voyage home from India. While he recuperated, Bellasis made sketches of the dramatic island landscape. Eleven years later, when the location of Napoleon’s new home was disclosed, Bellasis arranged to have six of his sketches etched and printed in Views of Saint Helena. Artist Robert Havell used the aquatint process to make the prints, giving the illustrations a rich texture. Each of the prints was then hand-colored.

Plantation House, the country residence of the Governor.

Plantation House, the country residence of the Governor.

Bellasis obtained 263 subscribers for Views of Saint Helena (including Queen Charlotte and other members of the royal family), suggesting that at least this many copies were printed, though only 31 are currently listed in the bibliographic database Worldcat. He dedicated the book to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, Napoleon’s recent nemesis on the battlefield, who, in 1804, had been colonel of the 19th Light Dragoons in India. The provenance of UVM’s copy of Views of Saint Helena is unknown.

Contributed by Jeffrey Marshall,
Director, Special Collections

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