A Tale of Two Burlington Women’s Clubs

During the 2023 spring semester, Special Collections intern and History graduate student Brooke Talbott processed the records of two Burlington, Vermont women’s clubs. Drawing on correspondence, reports, minutes, scrapbooks, account books, ephemera and publications in the collections, Brooke tells the tale of the Klifa Club and the Athena Club.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States saw the growth of a movement that would create lasting changes within the fabric of American society. The women’s club movement, emerging alongside the suffrage movement, began in the late 1860s in Boston and New York when small groups of women formed voluntary organizations in their neighborhoods. Dedicated to the study of intellectual topics and current events, social reform and community service, these organizations defied the traditional expectations placed on women of the time. Instead of remaining at home, club members stepped into the public realm and began to shape social and political change across their communities.

At the turn of the twentieth century, hundreds of women’s clubs formed across the country. The movement made its way to Burlington, Vermont, where not one but two prominent women’s clubs were established. The Klifa Club and the Athena Club both had a lasting impact on the Burlington community.

Klifa Club

Founded in 1900, the Klifa Club was organized with the purpose of “mutual improvement of its members in literature, art, science, and the vital and social interests of the day.” The twelve founding members chose the club name from a random marking of a dictionary page. “Klifa,” the Icelandic word for “to climb,” seemed the perfect fit for the women’s group whose members would dedicate their time to the betterment of themselves and the local community.

The first meeting to discuss the formation of the club was held on October 11, 1900 in the home of Miss Mary Van Patten. At the third meeting, held on October 23, a Miss Richardson was chosen as the chair of the Governing Board. The other officers were Mary Van Patten (House Committee chair), Mary Hager (Program Committee chair), Fannie Grinnell (Entertainment Committee chair, Ada Platt (Finance Committee chair), Anna Wells (Treasurer), and Anna Pope (Secretary).

Throughout the club’s lifespan, activities were largely focused on social events. Members hosted regular afternoon teas and invited speakers. Speaker topics ranged from art, history, and psychology to nature conservancy, politics, and film. The club also participated in community events and charitable causes. In 1914, club members contributed to the adoption of a nine-hour labor law for Vermont women and children and helped raise awareness about children’s health issues in public schools.

A woman in hat and apron standing at a table demonstrates cooking technigues to a group women seated in front of her.

Klifa Club member Mrs. Dimock leads a baking demonstration for workers at the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company in March 1918.

During World War I, members responded to the call to contribute to the war effort. A scrapbook includes photographs of club members at conservation events, newspaper articles detailing conservation efforts, and programs from various war-related events. In October 1917, the club voted to do away with all refreshments at meetings and social gatherings to assist in the conservation of food. Throughout 1918, the Klifa Club remained at the forefront of Burlington’s food conservation efforts. The club created a “War Breads” exhibit to educate the community on the proper preparation of wartime food, shared wartime recipes that used potatoes instead of wheat, organized conservation and cooking demonstrations for employees at the Vermont Milk Chocolate plant, the Crystal Confectionary Company and other venues. In 1919, the club continued its efforts to support the war effort, winning an award for the most artistic float in the “Welcome Home Troops” parade.

Women in white dresses ride on a horse-drawn parade float.t.

Klifa Club members on their float in Burlington’s welcome home parade held July 4, 1919.

In 1924, the club acquired a building at 324 Pearl Street to use as a meeting and event space. During World War II, the club partnered with the American Red Cross by offering the home for classes in first aid, nutrition, and home nursing. Throughout the twentieth century, members continued to dedicate their time to social causes, raising money for sewing machines for home economics classes, forming a Girl Scout troop, and helping to organize the United Way and the Lund Home. Along with their regular meetings, the club frequently hosted recitals and fashion shows.

Photograph of large brick house with white shutters, two porches with columns, and end chimneys.

The Klifa Club occupied this building at 324 Pearl Street from 1924 to 2011.

The Klifa Club occupied the building at 324 Pearl Street until July 2011, when the club closed its doors due to declining membership. By the early 2000s, club membership had deteriorated, as more and more women were employed outside the home, leading to less and less available time for women’s club meetings. The club made the decision to donate the building to the Vermont Community Foundation, which used the proceeds from the sale to create a charitable fund in the Klifa Club’s name.

Athena Club

In the fall of 1903, four women were invited to the Burlington home of Misses Ella and Bessie Brown for an afternoon of sewing, tea and conversation. The group decided to meet weekly to read together. In February 1904, while meeting at Mrs. Fred Jackson’s home, a proposal was made to form a club and invite other women to join. Later that spring, the club chose the name “Book and Thimble Club.” Membership was limited to twenty-five, with annual dues of $0.25. For an additional $0.25, members could purchase a copy of the club yearbook.

The club held weekly meetings from October to June. Meeting programs were often copied from Bay View Magazine, with topics focusing on the history and literature of France, the United States, Canada, and South America. Special celebrations were held on Christmas and Thanksgiving, as well as Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays.

A page from a printed club yearbook shows the program of two club meetings and includes handwritten notes.

A page from a 1906 yearbook with a member’s notes.

Although an annual meeting was held each year at the President’s home, the summer of 1907 saw one of the most momentous meetings in the club’s history. In June, the club’s first real banquet was held at the Elmwood House. Eighteen members were present and contributed to the meeting program. Members approved a new name, the Athena Club, after the Greek goddess who is a patron of the arts.

From 1904 to 1911, the Athena Club became so popular that it instituted a waiting list. In 1911, the club joined the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, signaling the club’s desire to expand its horizons. Members focused on civic service, providing scholarships, participating in charitable work during the world wars, raising money for local non-profits, and much more. Given their dedication to so many social and political causes, the club established five different departments–from music and civics to home economics and history–to keep pace with the activities.

Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, the Athena Club was busier than ever, growing in membership and taking part in social and political change. In 1913, members helped organize the first women’s public restroom in Vermont, with Mrs. Stone, Mrs. Hall, and Mrs. Brown working to keep the project before the city aldermen. In the years 1914-1915, members secured a placed to meet, renting the Delta Mu Society rooms in the Hayward Building. In 1918, the club pushed the city of Burlington to hire a female police officer. During World War I, members could be found taking part in Red Cross work, sewing, knitting, and contributing to the war effort in any way they could. In November 1919, Dorothy Canfield Fisher gave a lecture for members, with members’ receipts donated to Fisher’s work with French orphans.

By 1925, the Athena Club’s 150 members were promoting projects that ranged from installing traffic lights to building the Burlington airport. During the spring of that year, members began to push for the purchase of a clubhouse, partly due to the fact that the Hayward Building’s two flights of stairs were difficult for members to climb. In April 1925, the club purchased 328 Pearl Street to use as a clubhouse.

Photo of a brick house with white shutters, end chimneys, a front porch and a side porch.

The Athena Club occupied this building at 328 Pearl Street from 1925 to 2003.

A smiling member of the Athena Club serves tea to a Venezuelan student while two other club members look on.

On April 28, 1961, the Burlington Free Press covered the Athena Club’s international tea party.

In the decades that followed, Athena Club members continued to inform themselves of state, national, and international matters. Members signed petitions against carnivals in Burlington and in favor of women jurors. Members also helped educate new voters on how to vote, worked for better housing in Burlington, and donated plants and bulbs to local schools to help beautify the city. In the 1960s, the Athena Club hosted tea parties for international university students.  In, 1961, the club hosted Senator George D. Aiken at a special supper where Aiken gave a speech on foreign relations. As the Vietnam War came into the picture, members heard J. Warren McClure, the publisher of the Burlington Free Press, speak about his trip to Vietnam. Throughout this time, members also held fashion shows, rummage sales, card parties, and an annual Christmas bazaar.

By the turn of the twenty-first century, club membership had begun to decline significantly. More and more women were employed outside the home, making daytime meetings impossible to attend. In September 2003, the club donated 328 Pearl Street to the University of Vermont with an agreement that the university would sell the property and use the proceeds of the sale to create scholarships for Vermont students.

Researchers can access the inventories of the Klifa Club and the Athena Club online and contact Special Collections to view the collections in our reading room.

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Trans Visibility in Out in the Mountains

Special Collections intern and History graduate student Juniper Oxford contributed this blog post for the 2023 International Transgender Day of Visibility. She relied on the UVM Libraries’ digital version of Out in The Mountains to do her research.

 For two decades, Out in the Mountains was the only newspaper focused on issues important to LGBT Vermonters. OITM was published monthly, from 1986-2007. The newspaper was widely circulated and could be found in over fifty businesses and organizations across the state by 1994. The first issue of Out in the Mountains, published in February 1986, was self-described as “Vermont’s Newspaper for Lesbians and Gay Men.”

There were complications to running a nonprofit newspaper that relied on volunteering. In 1990, OITM published its January issue and gave its notice that “This is OITM’s last issue.” The newspaper had trouble sustaining the paper due to a loss of “collective energy.” A meeting on February 17th, at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, was called for in the notice. OITM acknowledged that the February meeting was “forward-looking,” whether new people might step forward so the newspaper could live on, or attendees might help the publication “collapse gracefully.” The meeting was a success in breathing new life into the newspaper’s organization. The revitalized OITM continued publishing for seventeen years after the 1990 crisis.

Out in the Mountains lacked a February issue, and its March issue was four pages long—a fraction of its typical length. The meeting at Fletcher Free was attended by nearly forty-five individuals from across the state. The attendees worked together to set up a long-term plan for the publication, breaking into groups to focus on the financial, structural, and publishing aspects. OITM changed its slogan in March 1990, marketing itself as “Vermont’s Newspaper for Bisexuals, Lesbians and Gay Men.” The newspaper acknowledged the change and attributed it to one of the discussions at the February meeting. In the following issue, the OITM’s slogan was tweaked to read “for Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals.” As the March issue served as a notice of OITM’s continuation and was four pages long, the inclusion of the bisexual community was addressed extensively in its following issue in April.

The editorial published in the April 1990 issue was titled “Beware the ‘B’ Word.” As the title implies, the editorial focused primarily on bisexual inclusion and indicated that a significant debate took place regarding the change. The contention was addressed in the editorial and, from the perspective of an individual in opposition in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the issue. The editorial explained “By including bisexuals, Out in the Mountains hopes to increase and/or acknowledge the outreach of the paper and thus draw strength from the diversity of its audience. It is not our goal to be exclusive of those who identify with gay or lesbian issues. It is, however, our goal to challenge prejudice and discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs, even if it is to be found in our own ranks.”

The first appearance of “transgender” in Out in the Mountains was in an advertisement for participants in a study on “near death experiences” in May 1992. In the three mentions of “transgender” in OITM from 1992-1993, all three originated outside the state. The advertisement for the study—reprinted an additional time in the following issue in June—was from New Mexico, and the third instance was from a reprint of an ACT-UP Chicago poster in November 1993.

1994 marked a turning point in Out in the Mountains’ coverage of trans issues. Its first article on transgender rights was in its April issue, titled “G/L/B Vets First National Group to Affirm Transgender Rights.” The state delegations at the 1994 National Convention of Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Veterans of America voted unanimously to include “transgender” and “gender identity” throughout its National Constitution and By-Laws. According to the newspaper, the president of the Vermont State Chapter of the GLBVA, Gene Barfield, was “a leader in the debate to adopt the measure” at the convention.

In May 1994, Out in the Mountains reported on the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Award winners. Out of ten finalists, the Gay and Lesbian Book Award winner for Literature was Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues. The award announcement, reprinted in Out in the Mountains, describes Feinberg’s work as “a poignant exploration of transgendered identity in the years surrounding the Stonewall Uprising.” A later issue of OITM covered another of zir work, Transgender Warriors.

Transgender advocacy and activity within Vermont came into visibility in the newspaper around the mid-nineties. The 1994 electoral campaigns headed by LGBT Vermonters were covered by the newspaper in February 1995, with OITM mentioning Karen Ann Kerin’s campaign for state representative for Montpelier. According to the newspaper, “A number of races in Vermont included openly gay, HIV+, and transgendered candidates.” Kerin, an openly transgender candidate for the Republican nomination, withdrew her campaign to focus on law school but indicated to OITM her interest in running for office in the future.

Kerin later authored an open letter in Out in the Mountains about its prior political coverage, critiquing the paper’s orientation toward Democratic politics, titled “Voices From the Mountains: Some of us are Republicans.” Kerin would later go on to be a perennial candidate, running in ten elections, including as the Republican nominee for U.S. representative against incumbent Bernie Sanders in 2000, receiving 18.3%, and the Republican/Libertarian fusion candidate for attorney general in 2008, receiving 18.7%. During her time as a student at the Vermont Law School, she served as a coordinator for the Transgender Law Conference at VLS in 1996.

In the April 1996 issue, two years after its first article on transgender rights, Out in the Mountains modified its slogan to read “Vermont’s Forum for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues.” The editorial briefly addressed the inclusion, although not nearly to the extent that it had with the inclusion of “bisexual” in 1990.

With this issue, I am extremely proud and excited to have transgendered people represented within our pages. We have also reworded our front page heading to reflect the fact that we are writing not only for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered persons, but for all those who are interested in and affected by our issues (and who isn’t?) Thanks to Rachel Lurie for the simple yet powerful rewording of our mission, and for making it fit in the space allotted!

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Unusual Materials

This spring, Erika White’s ARTS 196 class, Making Artist Books, includes four sessions in Silver Special Collections. During the first session, librarian Prudence Doherty introduced students to a selection of artists’ books. During the second session, students explored accordion book structures to prepare for an assignment. Last week, again getting ready for a forthcoming assignment, students looked at books that use unusual materials–glass, wood, cloth, metal, plastic, fruit and vegetables, and even soap. After students in teams of two examined more than twenty books, each team selected one book to highlight in this blog post.

For more information about a book, click on its title in the descriptions below. Come to Special Collections to explore our wonderful collection of artists’ books.

Common Threads
Candace Hicks

Image shows the front cover and first page of a canvas book with embroidered text.

Common Threads is one volume of an ongoing series of canvas notebooks filled with hand-embroidered text recording coincidences the artist encounters.

Family Tree
Julie Chen, Flying Fish Press

Image shows one sie of a book made of 12 wooden blocks with text and design elements.Family Tree uses 16 maple blocks with images and text on all six sides to explore family history and relationships. The blocks can be arranged to show a single image with text, or they can be rearranged to change the story.

Ghost Diary
Maureen Cummins

Image shows an open accordion book with text and photographs printed on glass panels joined with metal.

Ghost Diary uses the most fragile material that the students encountered. The text, essentially a memoir based on an 1807 letter of Lt. Col. Jonathon Rhea, is printed on glass panels that are bound together with black metal. Vintage negatives complement the text.

In War 1940-
Karen Boldner, Drew Cameron

Image shows an open book with text printed on one side and six different samples of paper on the other.The pages of In War 1940- are made of paper shredded from military uniforms that were donated by veterans or their families. Each page uses uniforms from a separate conflict, from Afghanistan in the front, to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq-Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, World War II in the back.

Daniel Kelm

Image shows the red and black case for Mars, which holds an accordion book, two pamphlets and three metal objects. The accordion book is open to reveal the text "God of War" below the case.Mars includes an accordion book, two pamphlets and three metal objects. A Civil War canister ball, a chrome steel ball bearing, and an iron-nickel meteorite represent what Kelm sees as the three faces of Mars: Military Mars, Scientific Mars, and Celestial Mars. Students spent time transforming the hinged accordion panel into a dodecahedron with stainless steel pins.

Not Paper
Peter Thomas

Image shows several pages of the accordion book, Not Paper, with samples and descriptions of tapa and tyvek.Not Paper includes samples of seven paper-like materials (amate, birchbark, papyrus, parchment, tapa, tyvek, and wasp nest) accompanied by information about each material.

Occupy Your Wallet
Emily Artinian

Image shows three photographs on credit card blanks of protestors at Occupy Wall Street protests.Occupy Your Wallet includes 25 plastic credit card blanks printed on one side with photos of Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, Chicago and Delaware. On the reverse side, along with a magnetic strip, there is a record of the location, the date, events of the day and the weather.

Ordinary Discovery
Nicole Eiland

Image of an accordion book open to show close-up photographs of sliced fruits and vegetables alternating with pages made of dried and pressed kiwi and parsnip slices. In Ordinary Discovery, Nicole Eiland invites the viewer to look closely at slices of ordinary fruits and vegetables, alternating palladium print photographs with sheets of yam, kiwi and parsnip pressed flat.

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Black Caterer Managed UVM’s Hash House

The 1900 federal census recorded approximately 115 Black residents in Burlington, Vermont. Almon J. Clark, listed as colored in the 1900 census, lived with his wife Anna (54), his daughters Mary (24) and Ellen (22) and his sons John (19) and James (16) at 41 Colchester Avenue. This address was for a building that once stood on the UVM campus known as Commons Hall, or the Hash House.

Map of a portion of the UVM campus and Colchester Avenue in 1900 showing the location and footprint of Commons Hall.

On this 1900 map, Commons Hall is shown on the right, labeled “dining hall.”

Commons Hall was erected on UVM’s back campus in 1885 as a restaurant and eating house. The university’s annual Catalogues advertised “a Commons Hall on the College grounds at which good table board is furnished to students at cost.” Until 1908, UVM hired contractors to manage the dining service, including A. J. Clark.

1929 photograph of Commons Hall, a sprawling frame building with several additions.

Commons Hall in 1929, shortly before it was scheduled for demolition to make way for the Fleming Museum.

Almon J. Clark was born in Virginia around 1852, and by 1870 was living in Hinesburg, Vermont, working as a laborer for a white farmer, Harry Weed. He married Anna Kenna, who was born in Ireland, and by 1880 they were living in Burlington. Clark worked for Peck Brothers, dealers in carpets and curtains, and for some years worked for Burlington caterer H. N. Coon. Clark also operated several food enterprises. He advertised his own catering business in in 1887, and in 1889, the city directory listed Clark as a baker as well as a Peck employee. In 1892, the city’s Board of Alderman approved Clark’s request for a short-term “eating stand” between City Hall and the library. City directories indicate that Anna Clark also worked as a cook. In 1892, she was listed as a cook at Commons Hall and in 1895 at the Sherwood Hotel.

1887 newspaper advertisement for A. J. Clark's cook rooms at 142 St. Paul, listing the various foods that could be ordered.

1887 advertisement for Clark’s catering business.

In late September 1896, the Burlington Free Press announced that A. J. Clark, “the well-known caterer,” took over the management of Commons Hall. City directories first list Clark as the cook and then the proprietor. In December, the Free Press reported that the Clarks offered an excellent Christmas dinner to students who were spending their holidays in college lodgings, with decorated tables and handsome souvenir menus. The students must have been pleased with Clark’s management, because on New Year’s Day they recognized Mr. and Mrs. Cook with a speech and an elegant chair. The Free Press noted, “The College yell brought the pleasant occasion to a close.” The Clarks may have operated  Commons Hall as a family affair. Anna was an experienced cook, and the children, all listed as servants in the 1900 census, may have helped.

Advertisement for Commons Hall, A. J. Clark, Manager.

Under A. J. Clark’s management, Commons Hall advertised in the UVM student yearbook, Ariel.

Newspaper testimonial for Berry-Hall Company's Gold Star Baking Powder.

The Berry-Hall Company in Burlington shared Anna Clark’s testimonial “from Commons Hall” for Gold Star Baking Powder, which she based on her 35 years of experience as a cook (Burlington Free Press January 11, 1901)

Despite having 100 patrons at Commons Hall, Clark leased another boarding house at 92 St. Paul Street in 1902. Anna Clark died in 1903 and the Clark family left Commons Hall.  Clark gave up the St. Paul Street business after only operating it for a short time. The city directory for 1904 notes that Clark had left Burlington. He remarried and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he worked as a houseman, janitor and steward there from 1911 to 1927. By 1928, Clark and his wife Priscilla were back in Burlington, working as a cook at Sally’s Restaurant with his daughter Mary. He died in 1932 and was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

To learn more about Burlington’s Black residents at the end of the nineteenth century, read Harvey Amani Whitfield’s article, African Americans in Burlington, Vermont, 1880–1900, in Vermont History Vol. 75 (2007), pages 101–123.

Contributed by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Christmas Cards from the Studio of Katherine Crockett

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing" Christmas card show three angels with musical instruments on a red background.Christmas card featuring a white candle wrapped in green holly and red berries on a red background.

In January 1966, T. D. Seymour Bassett, the curator of the UVM Wilbur Collection, sent a letter to Katherine Crockett in Pittsford, Vermont. Bassett wrote that he had received two of her attractive Christmas cards from friends in St. Louis and Detroit. He continued, “Since the Wilbur Collection aims to include examples of every kind of Vermont activity, including commercial art, we should be pleased to have a set of your designs for Christmas and other greeting cards.” Bassett asked if he could stop by on January 21, soon after lunch, to pick up what she might have available.

Crockett started her Christmas card business in 1929 and moved it to Vermont in 1951. In 1954, Crockett told Vermont Life that her business challenge was to make a good product, “one that is beautiful, original and cheap enough to make people want to buy it.” With silk-screened designs that ranged from traditional to modern and included religious and secular themes, the company was quite successful, distributing some half a million cards annually. Crockett retired in 1966, and the company continued under new owners.

Bassett brought Crockett’s 1965 sample book, Christmas Cards from the Studio of Katherine Crockett, to the Wilbur collection. Here are a few examples. Come to Special Collections to see the rest of the cards.

Christmas card featuring a star made of evergreens and decorated with a cluster of red bells.

Christmas card featuring green candles, one with an orange flame and a gold halo.

Christmas card featuring a horn, a drum and a lute with holly and mistletoe.

Christmas card featuring a man and woman wearing skis and holding ski poles being lifted by a hot air balloon decorated like a Christmas ornament reading "Merry Christmas."

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High License, Local Option, and the 1902 Election

As the 2022 election season draws to a close, we offer an article by graduate student Juniper Oxford about the 1902 election, when prohibition in Vermont was the central contentious issue. Juniper conducted research for the article in Special Collections during Professor Dona Brown’s Spring 2022 seminar, Local History in a Global Context.

Vermont’s 1902 election cycle brought forth an issue that had been brewing for several decades: the increasing unpopularity of statewide Prohibition. Long before national Prohibition, Vermont enacted a statewide prohibition on alcohol in 1853. Although the state saw almost fifty years of prohibition officially, the law was not so easily enforced, nor was it popular in all corners. By 1902, the election gave an opportunity for Vermonters to voice their position on statewide prohibition through a candidate and, in the following year, by direct ballot initiative.

In 1902, Percival Clement attempted to gain the Republican nomination for governor of Vermont, seizing on the opportunity to present himself as the candidate for “high license,” granting the license to sell liquors at what was considered high rates, and “local option,” an alternative to a total prohibition of sale that allows local municipalities to vote for whether they permit the sale of alcohol within their jurisdictions.

Front cover of a campaign brochure with the title "High License and Local Option" with a photograph of Percival Clement, candidate for governor of Vermont.Back cover of a campaign brochure with a list of seven things Percival W. Clement said about State Prohibition.

Front and back covers of a 1902 Clement campaign brochure. Clement proclaims,  “You license men are voting for a cause…. My personality is of no consequence …. We have a platform and a principle, and, standing on it, we shall surely win.”

In an opposition pamphlet, “Prohibition, or Local Option,” Joseph Harris of Ludlow, Vermont, articulated several arguments in favor of Vermont Prohibition and against local option. Harris claimed that other states that implemented local option policies saw an increase in public disturbance, that local option proponents were driven by greed to participate in the potential newly legal commerce and are “nursing the appetites for strong drinks,” and that over ninety percent of women were in favor of Prohibition and should have a say in voting against local option. Contrary to Clement’s claims of corruption in Vermont politics, Harris  believed it was the local optionists who had corruption in their hearts. Additionally, Harris claimed that Clement sought the direct ballot initiative for local option because he could not and would not manage to pass the bill through the Vermont legislature.

Section of text from pamphlet titled "Prohibition, or Local Option."

Failing to secure the Republican nomination, with the party instead nominating John McCullough, Clement and his supporters were bitter at their defeat. The faction alleged corruption at the convention, including bought-and-paid-for supporters. Expanding his platform to focus on corruption in the political process in addition to his high license and local option position, Clement eventually declared a third-party candidacy as the Local Option candidate. Although the Republican convention included the local option stance in its platform due to the rallying of its supporters, Clement’s candidacy turned into a referendum on Republican-led politics in the state of Vermont.

Cartoon shows Percival Clement trying to cross a gully on a breaking tight rope, about to plunge into "political oblivion."“Perspiration Producing Performance of Percy, the Bolter. He’ll never make it.”

No candidate for governor or lieutenant governor managed to receive a majority of the popular vote. Clement received second place ahead of a major party candidate—Democrat Felix McGettrick. The Local Option candidates easily received second place in both races for governor and lieutenant governor, tripling the number of votes received by the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and quadrupling the votes of the Democratic nominee for governor. Since the Republican Party failed to receive an electoral majority, although they had received a plurality of the vote, the election was to be decided in the Vermont legislature, where the Republican majority ensured their victory.

Republican John McCullough received 45.6% of the vote, Democrat Felix McGettrick received 10.5%, Prohibitionist Joel Sherburne received a respectable 3.6%, and Local Optionist Percival Clement received 40.3%. The Prohibition Party existed in Vermont politics and fielded candidates for two decades before the 1902 election, but Sherburne received the Prohibition Party’s highest share of the vote total since their inception and of any election until their last in 1928, unsurprising as the Local Option candidate was Sherburne’s ideological opponent in 1902. The Prohibition candidates for U.S. representative also saw an increase in the vote totals, with 4.2% and 5%, respectively. While Clement’s showing was the most significant factor in why no candidate managed to attain a majority of the vote, Sherburne’s higher-than-expected number of votes certainly aided in pushing the election to the Vermont legislature.

The most practical solution to the Republican Party’s electoral problem was to introduce legislation to eliminate the need for a “single issue party.” The legislature voted to allow an initiative on local option in December 1902, shortly after the election. The Vermont Local Option Alcohol Sales Act was enacted as a result of a direct ballot initiative and was approved on town meeting day, February 3, 1903. Although the high license and local option plank was a part of the Republican platform, it was politically advantageous to promptly enact the initiative because of its seemingly broad support among Vermonters and because a third-party candidate who ran on the issue lost the election by five percentage points. No third-party candidate for governor of Vermont has come near the 40.3% of the popular vote Clement received since the 1902 election.

Despite Clement’s claim of his “personality being of no consequence,” he ran twice more after his initial run as the Local Option candidate in 1902. He ran unsuccessfully in 1906 as the independent-Democratic candidate, and successfully in 1918 as the Republican candidate. In the sixteen years after the 1902 election, Vermonters were given the opportunity to opt-out of the prohibition of alcohol by local option. National Prohibition was enacted by constitutional amendment on January 9, 1919, seven days before Percival Clement took office as governor of Vermont.

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Rah for UVM!

Photo shows a faded green triangular pennant with felt letters "Vermont-6" on the top and "Dartmouth-3" appliqued on the bottom of a felt V. A leather football appliqued in the wide part of the V bears the date Oct. 21 1922 .

Green Mountain Studios of White River Junction, Vermont marketed a special pennant with felt and leather applique on dark green wool to commemorate the UVM football team’s victory.

When a researcher came upon this faded pennant in the papers of alumnus Richard U. Cogswell (class of 1925) last week, he noted that the 100th anniversary of a UVM football victory was at hand. On October 21, 1922, the UVM football team unexpectedly outscored the Dartmouth College team on its home field in Hanover, NH. It was just the fourth time that Dartmouth lost at home and the first time that UVM had beaten Dartmouth in ten years. While the Vermont Cynic, the UVM student paper, claimed that “More printer’s ink can never do credit to the story of the wonderful fight and the dogged persistence” of the UVM team,” the victory was celebrated at length in the press, the Dartmouth alumni magazine and the UVM yearbook.

Newspaper headlines: Vermont plays sensation football and conquers Dartmouth Eleven, 6-3. Includes summary of game highlights.

Headlines on page 1 of the Vermont Cynic, October 28, 1922.

The Vermont Cynic led with a front-page story and filled three pages with play-by-play accounts in its October 28 issue. According to the Cynic, the UVM team played “its most superb brand of football” to defeat Dartmouth. The Cynic’s sports editor offered a dramatic account of the victory.

The last few minutes of play in the game Saturday provided a thrill which will never be forgotten by any one who witnessed the game. With Dartmouth sending in a fresh backfield after every play, when the Green were within one foot of a touchdown, the strong and sturdy pupils of Coach Keady stiffened on the defense and fought what seemed like an inevitable defeat, even in spite of the fast fleeting seconds, and when the whistle blew, they had once more proved to the world that a David could look a Goliath in the eye and beat him.

Image shows headlines for an article about the UVM football team's victory over Dartmouth: Rah for U.V.M! Green Mountain Boys hit Dartmouth in plexus by capturing fervid game at Hanover by the margin of 6 to 3."

The Rutland Daily Herald cheers the UVM victory, October 23, 1922.

In its December 1922 issue, the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine recognized UVM as a worthy opponent. Vermont’s “powerful and well drilled football machine” compared favorably to Dartmouth opponents like Penn State, Colgate and West Virginia. Dartmouth credited UVM’s “unexpected defensive strength” that “succeeded several times in holding the Green team in check when a touchdown seemed imminent.”

The 1924 edition of Ariel, the student yearbook, devoted nine and a half pages to the “Green and Gold scoring machine” that was the 1922 UVM football team. The football section, illustrated with player and game photos, highlighted the hair-raising finish of the Dartmouth-UVM game.

A drawing shows a smiling football player wearing a dark jersey emblazoned with a V standing with one foot on the body of a bruised opponent lying of the ground. Tags on the prone layer list the teams Vermont vanquished in 1922.

A graphic summary of UVM’s 6-2 record in 1922.

The pennant that Richard Cogswell saved is part of the University Archives collection of alumni papers (Record Group 81). The collection includes scrapbooks, diaries, letters, and memorabilia donated by former students that provide insights into student life over the decades.

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Tons of Honey: The Forbes Apiary

When Bill Mares and Ross Conrad were doing research for their 2018 book, The Land of Milk and Honey: A History of Beekeeping in Vermont, they discovered a number of helpful resources in Silver Special Collections. Unfortunately, we found few photographs of Vermont beekeepers or their apiaries. So we were excited last month when a researcher and friend of Special Collections brought us a donation of miscellaneous items that included three photographs of Volney N. Forbes and his West Haven, Vermont apiary.

A man wearing a hat stands in a yard filled with bee hives. The hives have gable roofs and colony numbers are written on the front of each one.

Volney Forbes in the bee yard. For recordkeeping, Forbes painted the number of each bee colony on the gable end of the wooden hives.

Volney Forbes was born in West Haven in 1832 and lived there all his life. When he died in 1915, the Rutland Daily Herald (August 16, 1915) reported that Forbes had held all the town offices, was town clerk and treasurer for thirty years and served a term in the Vermont legislature. He was a member of the West Haven Grange and the Vermont Bee Keepers Association, “being one of the most successful bee keepers in the state.” Honey was just one of the products Forbes raised on his 135-acre farm. He was also a breeder of fine merino sheep and registered pure bred Jersey cattle.

A man in a summer straw hat stands in front of bee hives inspecting a frame from a hive. There is a farmhouse in the background.Forbes inspecting a frame from a hive.

At the 1906 Vermont Bee Keepers annual meeting, Forbes gave a presentation on “Short Cuts in Bee Keeping.” His methods must have been successful, as his production increased significantly over time. The 1880 agricultural census indicates that his bees produced 300 pounds of honey in 1879.  Thirty years later, the Fair Haven Era (September 10, 1910) reported that Forbes, “the leading raiser of honey in this vicinity has three tons of best quality honey ready to ship to the Boston market.” According to Forbes, the 1910 season had been a good one though not better than some past years.  In October 1915, seven tons of comb honey were shipped from West Haven to Philadelphia. The honey shipped by a Mr. Greenleaf “was partly from the apiary of the late Volney N. Forbes for many years the most noted bee man of this section” (Fair Haven Era, October 28, 1915).

The photograph shows an apiary in winter, with snow on the ground and on the gable roofs of numerous bee hives arranged between two wooden outbuildings.Volney’s apiary in winter. Spaces between the double walls of the hives were filled with chaff or sawdust that helped protect the bees during cold weather. The buildings may be a honey room and a work room, used to store honey and equipment.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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UVM’s Dairy School: Short and Intense Practical Training

For National Dairy Month, Silver Special Collections student assistant Michael Maloney (UVM 2022) writes about the UVM Dairy School, which began in 1891. His research was prompted by two early twentieth-century photos of Dairy School students that were recently donated to Special Collections.

The University of Vermont held an annual Dairy School program each winter starting in 1891. The Dairy School was typically four to six weeks in length and initially taught lessons on the practical manner of the manufacture of butter using the most modern apparatus for the job. By the fifth year of the program, it included lectures on the constitution and production of milk, creaming and churning, handling, and testing of milk products. The Dairy School was suspended during the winters of 1904 to 1907 while UVM constructed a new Agricultural Department building. Morrill Hall, completed in 1907, was fully furnished with modern equipment for Dairy School classes. After the Dairy School was reinstated in the winter of 1908, it continued with only minor changes to the program over the years until the late 1930s, when it ended due to a lack of demand.

Photograph of the UVM farm buildings, including left to right, the apiary, barns, creamery and dairy school, the greenhouse and the superintendent's house.

This 1901 photograph of UVM’s farm buildings includes the original creamery and dairy school (third from right). Source: Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Color postcards shows the front facade of Morrill Hall.

Morrill Hall, circa 1911.

Dairy school students in white uniforms stand in front of the Morrill Hall main entrance.

Class of dairymen in their official uniforms in front of Morrill Hall. Photo by B. Benton Barker, circa 1907-1913.

The Dairy School maintained throughout its operation that its purpose was to teach practical application and technical instruction, and the focus of the school was about business and not academic learning. The program was designed to meet a demand for an intense short and practical training lesson in the handling of milk and manufacture of milk products. Its goal was to teach how to manage a dairy enterprise of any sort and it was intended for those interested in butter-making at a creamery or at home, in the market milk industry as producer or handler, and for those who could not take one of the longer courses at UVM.

Photo of dairy school students working in a laboratory with an elaborate pulley system on the ceiling.

Students at work in dairy laboratory, circa 1919. Source: Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

The 1907/08 UVM course catalogue describes the equipment provided at Morrill Hall for the Dairy School: “The creamery equipment consists of several power separators, milk heater, Farrington pasteurizer, starter can, cream ripener, combined churn and workers, and multiple butter printer. The farm dairy room contains several hand separators, churns, workers, printers, etc. The milk testing lab has hand and power Babcock testers, an apparatus for determining total solids, acidity, taints, and the moisture content of butter. The market milk room has a pasteurizer, milk cooler, bottle filler, bottle washer and sterilizer. All machinery runs on two five-horsepower electric motors. A hot water boiler and fifteen-horsepower boiler furnish hot water and steam for the cleansing and pasteurizing.”

Morrill Hall basement floor plan, showing location of Farm machines, boiler room, separators, churn room, and cold storage for making butter.

Morrill Hall basement floor plan. Farm machines, boiler room, separators, churn room, and cold storage all for making butter. Source: 1906 Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Morrill Hall first floor plan shows offices, horticulture and dairy school spaces, including the dairy school pasteurization room, cheese room, and laboratory.

Morrill Hall first floor plan. Pasteurization room, cheese room, and laboratory used by Dairy School students. Source: 1906 Vermont Agricultural College Bulletin.

Dairy School students in white uniforms working with buttermaking equipment in a laboratory.

Dairy men working in basement of Morrill Hall with modern butter making equipment. Photo by B. Benton Barker, circa 1907-1913.

In its later years, the Dairy School expanded to include a variety of winter courses focused more on general agriculture and home economics, and it eventually became part of UVM’s “Winter Short Courses in Agriculture.” Women were encouraged to come to the Dairy School as early as 1901/2. However, when the home economics program was introduced, they were strongly encouraged to take those courses instead. Course bulletins and newspaper articles still mentioned that women were welcome to take the dairy courses, but there was a clear emphasis encouraging women to participate in the home economics programs. The images below provide a general sense of the courses offered and a dairy school attendee’s day-to-day schedule. Students often went on excursions outside Burlington to visit technical plants, farms and Dairymen Association meetings.

Newspaper article announces the courses for the sixteenth session of the winter course in agriculture.

List of winter courses at UVM including creamery management and dairying courses. Source: Vermont Cynic, Jan. 5, 1911.

Newspaper article lists the daily schedule for the dairy school.

The daily schedule for dairy school students. Source: Vermont Cynic, December 30, 1908.



















Many of the dairymen, as they were called, found themselves in very successful careers after completing the program at UVM. For example, Oscar H. Perrin attended UVM Dairy school in 1896 and had a successful forty-year career in Charlestown, Massachusetts working as a dairyman for H. P. Hood. Another example is Mr. Gilmore, a graduate of the Dairy School who helped operate Ingleside Dairies in St. Albans, Vermont.

Newspaper advertisement for Ingleside Dairies, promoting the model creamery practices directed by Dairy School graduate Mr. Gilmore.

Ingleside Dairies advertises that “our milk…is rushed to our model creamery…and tested, pasteurized ad bottle under the direction of Mr. Gilmore, graduate of the University of Vermont Dairy School.”   St. Albans Daily Messenger, May 14, 1938.

Portion of newspaper article about O. H. Perring, a Dairy School graduate and 40-year employee of H. P. Hood.

With the “scientific training for the milk business” that he received at the UVM Dairy School, Oscar H. Perrin worked for the H. P. Hood dairy corporation for 40 years. United Opinion, April 3, 1936.

The UVM Dairy School and its history highlight the significance of the dairy industry in Vermont. As the state moved from traditional agriculture to more scientific and mechanized practices, UVM created programs that would help Vermont farmers succeed and thrive in the changing landscape. The dairy school helped teach dairymen how to use new technology, improve their business practices, and make new connections that helped grow the dairy farming industry during the first part of the twentieth century.

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Diaries of a Vermonter Teaching in China

UVM History students Sarah McAtee and Rhone Allison worked with Professor Erik Esselstrom and Chris Burns, Hannah Johnson, Dorothy Dye and Erin Doyle from Special Collections to transcribe four diaries from the Henry C. Brownell Papers. In this blog post, Sarah shares some excerpts from Brownell’s diaries.

Henry Chase Brownell was born in Burlington in 1887, graduating from the University of Vermont in 1908.  Henry and his wife, Jane, also a UVM grad, moved to China in 1908, where they both taught at Lingnan University in Canton (today called Guangzhou).  Henry and Jane were prominent members of the university, with Henry rising to Head of History and Dean of Men, and Jane serving as Dean of Women.  Henry and Jane Brownell spent a total of more than thirty years in China from the mid-1910s until the early 1950s.  When it became clear that Western ideals would no longer be accepted in China by Communist leadership, the Brownells returned to Burlington where they retired.  They were one of the last families to leave South China without difficulties.

Jane Brownell in a light colored dress stands next to her husband Henry who is wearing a shirt and tiee.

Henry and Jane Brownell, late 1930s

Henry Brownell’s diaries from 1938-39 and 1949-50 share details of his family’s life, politics, social impacts, and the university under Japan’s control of China as part of the Second Sino-Japanese War and during the Chinese Communist Revolution. Entries discuss everything from specifics about a rice harvest to issues with consuls to student activism, making it a very engaging look at an American professor’s experience in China during this period.

A woman wearing a hat and a man with an umbrella stand in from of a two-story house with a tile roof.

The Brownells’ home at Lingnan University

Below are a few excerpts from Brownell’s diaries that show the broad range of topics that Henry chose to write about.  Using the Transkribus software, we were able to copy down each line of text and type it out into an easier to read format.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.1939. Brownell writes about the price of rice in different areas.  The price is lower at Lingnan than in the city, but is only available for those who are associated with the university.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.1949. Students in campus dormitories were moved into a main hall, having to sleep on the floor in many cases to be in more protected quarters as explosions went off around campus.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page.October 1949. Brownell describes a mass meeting of around 900 students where speakers praised students who did not flee the country and told them that the country will need their services, especially for translation.

This image shows a portion of a handwritten diary page with a single line of text.April 1950. Some entries are as short as this one, while some go on for several pages.  In this entry, so much is wrapped up into one sentence, as Brownell reports that Hainan fell to the Communists in late April.

The Brownell diaries will be added to the UVM Libraries’ digital collection, Diaries, in the near feature.

Contributed by Sarah McAtee, Research Assistant, Department of History

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