Ovid and the Istrian Skies

Bound into the back of our 1497/98 printed edition of the works of Ovid is a four-page manuscript that offers an intriguing sidelight to our current focus on eclipses. The dense Latin script is difficult to read, so we asked our friends Daniel Williman and Karen Corsano if they could translate it for us. Their initial results—to be updated in this blog when completed—indicate that at least part of the manuscript, including a hand-drawn illustration, concerns an unusual pattern of light that was observed in the sky above Istria on the night of March 30, 1454. (Istria lies directly across the Adriatic Sea from Venice and was part of the Venetian Republic in the 15th century.)

The illustration accompanying the text on the first page of the manuscript shows a circle spanned by two bars that form a cross, with a crescent moon near the middle. At the ends of the arms of the cross are written the four cardinal directions as they were referred to when viewing the heavens, or to the directions of the wind: Austro (south), Ponente (west), Tramontana (north), and Levante (east). A great many people, “indeed almost all in those parts” according to the text, observed this circle and cross of silver against an azure sky with a red quarter-moon near its middle at about 11 p.m. that night.

Eight lines of handwritten Latin text above a drawing of a circle imposed on a cross with a crescent shape in the middle.To many, the text continues, the unexplained appearance of a cross dominated by a red crescent moon was a foreboding sign of the threat posed by the Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks, to whom the moon was an important symbol. Less than a year before, the Turks had captured Constantinople, the last vestige of the Byzantine Empire and the most significant Christian capital in the East. In fact, a week before the fall of Constantinople on May 30, 1453, a similar red crescent moon had appeared above the doomed city—the coincidental result of a partial lunar eclipse.

Could the celestial phenomenon observed in Istria have been a lunar eclipse? Scientists can determine with great precision when eclipses occurred in the past, and none was visible in this part of Europe on March 30, 1454. However, a lunar eclipse did occur on May 12 of that year. Perhaps the writer of the manuscript was mistaken about the date of the phenomenon.

The manuscript itself was likely written no later than the early 16th century. Whether it was originally bound with the book is unclear: its red Morocco binding was probably made in England sometime in the 18th century, so the manuscript could have been added at that time. It seems more likely, though, that the book and manuscript had been together for much longer. The only tentatively-identified owner of the Ovid prior to its appearance in England was Battista Peretti (1536?-1611), a Veronese church official, historian, and book collector.

Please check back for updates as we learn more about this mysterious manuscript. Many thanks to Daniel Williman and Karen Corsano for their translation help!

Contributed by Jeffrey Marshall, Professor Emeritus, Silver Special Collections

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College Memory Books, for Keepers of Keepsakes

On October 22, 1921, UVM student Dorothy Mayo Harvey typed a long letter to “family adorable, and adored.” She reported on her campus activities and included a paragraph about her search for a college memory book.

I have a new desire—for a college memory book. They are very attractive, and the kind such as Hazel has have good stout covers, and will stand a good deal of wear. I saw some beauties at McCauliffe’s (never can spell that name, ‘scuse please?) this morning, but the one which I liked the best was bound in tan ooze leather, was much smaller than Hazel’s, and Mabel told me this noon that Linda Clark had one of that kind and it didn’t wear very well, not hold enough. Beside—it cost almost twice as much as Hazel’s, seven-fifty as compared to four dollars. Florence Farr, a nice Pi Phi Senior, is agent for “Hazel’s kind” here, and I should like to get one of her anyway, so that is one extravagance which you may be prepared to hear that I have committed.

Like many of her classmates, Dorothy purchased a memory book similar to those advertised in the Burlington Free Press and the Vermont Cynic. The UVM Archives holds a good collection of the dark green alumni memory books. This fall, students and staff worked with four memory books from the 1920s, including Mayo’s “extravagance.” The covers sport the UVM seal in gold and are customized with the student’s name and year and in some cases, their fraternity or sorority.

Dark green cover of Mollie Newton's memory book bearing a gold UVM seal and laced with a yellow cord.Title page of a memory book. "The National Memory and Fellowship Book" printed against a background of stars with images of an eagle, a ship and the Statue of Liberty in the corners, and a name plate for Dorothy May Harvey at bottom right.The books were published by the College Memory Book Co. As advertised, they included features to help the “keepers of keepsakes” organize their memory books. Students could fill pages with preprinted headings and spaces for notes and memorabilia, including lists of friends, songs and yells, notable students, campus athletic records, clubs and societies, professors, school and social functions, trips and more. Lois Burbank (class of 1927) filled the “Student Hall of Fame” page in her book with photos of men’s athletic teams, while Fannie Peirce (class of 1924) selected photos of women students.

Memory book page titled "Student Hall of Fame" with photographs of University of Vermont athletes.

Page from Lois Burbank’s memory book.

Students attached a wide variety of memorabilia to blank pages as they created records of their time at UVM, capturing both personal experiences and experiences they shared with the members of the campus community. Recording friends to remember was important. In addition to gathering information on one of the preprinted pages, students attached photos of friends to blank pages, like the page below from Fannie Peirce’s book. Fannie labeled the photos with names, dates and captions. “On a picnic-1921” is straightforward, but we can only wonder at the circumstances that prompted “Oh my curlers.”

Top section of a handwritten list of friends, with dates, addresses, personal information and some handdrawn portraits.

Friends list from Dorothy Mayo Harvey’s memory book.

Photographs of friends, mostly young women, pasted on a memory book page with descriptive notes about events, names and dates.

Page from Fannie Peirce’s scrapbook. To read the captions, click on the photo to see a larger version.

Students saved all sorts of ephemeral items and arranged them on the blank pages. Molly Newton (class of 1924) pasted items she collected during her first year on a page near the front of her book, including a football schedule, the constitution and bylaws of the Women’s Student Union, a season ticket for athletic events, and her certificate of membership in the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Printed ephemera pasted on a memory book page.

Page from Mollie Newton’s memory book.

Students seemed to have filled the pages as they accumulated memorabilia. The page below, from Lois Burbank’s book, includes a wide variety of items, including a dance ticket, a Valentine card, a list of prayer meeting topics, and the results of a room inspection (“your room is neat but the floor needs a bit of sweeping”). Some items would benefit from explanation, especially the poison label and the bull’s-eye dated Nov. 5, 1923.

Memorabilia and ephemera pasted to a page from a memory book, including a dance tocket, a valentine, a candy label, a bull's eye, and a list of prayer topics.

Page from Lois Burbank’s memory book.

Although memory books and scrapbooks are challenging to preserve and challenging to read–the brittle loose leaf pages are difficult to turn, mementos often are no longer stuck to the pages, and letters and cards carefully attached in envelopes are hard to extract–they provide a unique and personal record of a student’s UVM experience. Student memory books and other scrapbooks are part of the Alumni Papers (Record Group 81). Dorothy Mayo Harvey’s letter is included in the Alumni Relations Files (Record Group 75). Email Special Collections at uvmsc@uvm.edu if you would like a closer look.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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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 342 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 342 Pearl Street from 1924 to 2011.

The Klifa Club occupied the building at 342 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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