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What's New

Collaborative Collection with Brooks Memorial Library Now Online

Published: December 10, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Porter C. Thayer Photographs collection.

The collection will contain 1300 photographs of Windham County made from silver gelatin prints by this early 20th century itinerant town photographer. The prints were made in 1980 from the 5×7 glass plates negatives held at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont.

“During the time period Porter worked, Vermont was extremely poor and rural, yet held a close-knit population that shared the labors of life. Farmers helped one another to survive in a subsistence and barter economy. For women, men, and children, life meant constant work. Thayer’s images describe the work and the tools involved. His landscape images reveal this working landscape, which today is mostly hidden by trees.” (by Jessica Weitz and Forrest Holzapfel)

This collection is being digitized through a collaboration between the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives and the Brooks Memorial Library. The collection will launch with 100 initial photos in early December, after which batches of 50 images will be added to the collection on a continuous basis. This work is supported in part by a grant from the Windham Foundation.

Read more about this collection in a recent article from The Commons News.

Please join us for an afternoon talk about “The History of the Town Photographer” by local photographer Forrest Holzapfel, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, and a discussion of the Porter Thayer project to date, on January 15th at 3:00 PM in the Brooks Memorial Library’s meeting room. Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

How to Use the Porter C. Thayer Photographs Collection

Published: December 09, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Collaboration with Brooks Memorial Library Featured in The Commons News

Published: November 30, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Over Thanksgiving, The Commons News did a fairly extensive piece on our forthcoming collaboration with Brooks Memorial Library of Brattleboro, VT. We're currently working with Jerry Carbone, Director, and Jessica Weitz, a library school student, to digitize about 1,250 photographs of Windham County taken by Porter C. Thayer between 1906 and 1930.

This collection will add to our growing strength in local photography, will provide easy access to unique materials, and serves an excellent model for collaborative digitization. An initial 50 photographs will launch in just about a week, and will be added to on a continuous basis.

This is our fourth collection to launch after going through the CDI's collection proposal process, and the first of those involving collaboration with an outside institution.

Read more about the photographer and our collaboration in the full article. A PDF can also be downloaded here. Many thanks to Olga Peters and Jeff Potter at The Commons!

Silent films in our Hay Harvesting Collection get audio commentaries!

Published: April 08, 2010 by Sophia S. Lloyd

Our collection Hay Harvesting in the 1940’s contains several instructional videos produced by UVM’s Agricultural Experiment Station. Produced in the ‘40’s, these short films illustrate different methods of collecting cut hay from the field and getting it into the barn. They range in degree of mechanization and technological advancement, showing machinery that deals with loose hay as well as baled hay, and comparing horse-drawn mechanisms with those powered by tractors.

This past January, Kurt Reichelt of the UVM Extension recorded voice-overs for these films with Lucien Paquette, a former UVM Extension agent and graduate of the class of 1940. One of seven children, Mr. Paquette grew up on a small dairy farm in Crafstbury Common. He founded the Addison County Fair - now the largest agricultural fair in the state - and last year he continued his practice of competing in the Field Days' hand-mowing competition! Mr. Paquette’s narration enriches these films, drawing from his vast professional and personal experience as well as his perspective on the history of agriculture in Vermont.

The post-WWII age saw an explosion in agricultural technologies, but these technologies reached farmers at differing paces. Thus, many small farms still used horse power and needed lots of human labor in order to get a cutting of hay safely into storage for the winter. One video demonstrates the pick-up baler or square baler, which was a machine drawn behind a tractor and deriving its power from the tractor’s power takeoff shaft (PTO). The advent of this sort of baler allowed the entire baling operation to be done by one person - the driver of the tractor - or two if the hay was simultaneously being loaded onto a wagon.

Compressing hay into tightly bound squares allowed for more efficient storage in the haymow (the dry upper portion of the barn where hay is customarily stored), but also necessitated modified techniques for moving the hay, since square bales can be very heavy and unwieldy. Farmers used hay picks to quickly and ergonomically chuck bales without hurting their hands, built their own hay elevators to convey the bales from the wagon up to the haymow, and some rigged pulleys and winches to haul several dozen square bales at a time up into the hay loft. One video demonstrates older haying techniques; hand raking, stacking hay by hand on the wagon, and pitching it into the haymow – all accomplished with the mighty pitchfork!

"Hand Methods of Harvesting Hay," narrated by Lucien Paquette from University of Vermont Libraries on Vimeo

You can out rest of these films in their narrated versions on the UVM Libraries’ Vimeo page.

Supplementing primary materials like these silent films with the commentary of a local expert is a great example of combining two valuable resources into one. Enriching our media in such ways to create multi-modal research experiences for our users is an important objective for the CDI. Thus we are always on the lookout for opportunities to add value to items in our collections. If you have any ideas or suggestions in this regard, please contact us!

CDI Digital Collection "Kake Walk at UVM" Featured in ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies Summer Course

Published: February 25, 2010 by Sophia Lloyd

We are proud to announce the CDI's involvement in this Continuing Education course. ALAN 095 OL1 D1 Curating Kake Walk: Race, Memory and Representation is an online, 3-credit course that will examine the controversial legacy of Kake Walk at UVM. Our Outreach Librarian, Robin M. Katz, will co-teach the course with Brian Joseph Gilley, Director of the ALANA US Ethnic Studies Program.

Using inter-disciplinary methodological frameworks, students will explore the ways archival materials are organized, presented and used to construct cultural memory. At the same time, students will be asked to engage in the practice of digital curation by helping to produce the "Kake Walk at UVM" CDI collection.

Digital Curation: A unique opportunity! Students will work with digitized materials from the University Archives, including programs, student newspapers, financial records, and historical photographs. The "Kake Walk at UVM" digital collection will feature students' contributions and will go live on the CDI at the end of the summer.

Historical Background: Blackface minstrel shows were once a prevailing form of entertainment in American popular culture. Similarly, the "cake walk" dance craze was a national phenomenon. For eighty years, UVM's Kake Walk was the hallmark social event of the annual Winter Carnival. In the theatrical tradition of minstrelsy (which later influenced vaudeville), fraternity brothers donned blackface makeup and performed highly stylized and choreographed dances to the tune of "Cotton Babes." This tradition has become - in the decades after its abolition in 1969 - a fascinating historical platform for examining the cultural construction and representation of race and representation in the U.S.

Want to sign up for this course? Matriculated and Continuing Education students can now use CRN 60745 to enroll. If you have questions about the registration process, please contact the registrar.

UVM Secondary Ed Students to Use CDI Collections in Burlington High School History Classes

Published: February 03, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Today, Library Assistant Professor Robin M. Katz visited Dr. Barri Tinkler's course EDSC 225: Teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools.

This UVM service-learning course will collaborate with the CDI to create "webquests" for Burlington High School history classes. A webquest is a web-based inquiry activity that allows students to pursue answers to essential questions through the investigation of digital resources.

Professor Katz gave a brief lecture "Primary Source Learning Through Digital Libraries" which covered the unique challenges for K-12 primary source research (whether in person or online) and an overview of digital library development. See the Powerpoint

She then introduced the students to the CDI's site and gave a demonstration on discovery methods for CDI research. Students completed an in-class exercise designed to measure their ability to find and evaluate CDI materials which could be included in a webquest. See the exercise

Look back this Spring for the final products. All webquests will be available on the CDI website for public use.

To schedule an instruction session for your course, contact us at

CDI Collaborates with Secondary Education Service-Learning Course

Published: December 16, 2009 by Robin M. Katz

This Spring, the CDI is partnering with Dr. Barri Tinkler's EDSC 225: Teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools

Students in this service-learning course will use our collections to create webquests for Burlington High School classrooms. A webquest is a web-based inquiry activity that allows students to pursue answers to essential questions through the investigation of digital resources.

It is the CDI's goal to make primary sources available for K-12 students in Vermont and beyond. Collaborating with EDSC 225 will allow us to better reach high school students. This partnership also allows UVM Education students to learn about curriculum development and online learning resources in a hands-on, professional environment.

Want to sign up for this course? Matriculated and Continuing Education students can now use CRN 11333 to enroll. Contact the registrar for more details.

Interested in similarly collaborating with the CDI?   Email us!