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Winter Wonderland

Published: December 13, 2010 by Joanna Riley

Check out Tennie Toussaint Photographs with images of Burlington Streets covered with snow and towns people ready with their shovels and plows! You will also see pictures of Lake Champlain frozen for the winter.

View more pictures of Vermonts winter wonderland here!.

Item of the Month: One Last Hike Before the Snow Comes!

Published: November 09, 2010 by Joanna Riley

I grew up in Massachusetts where there are places to hike but all of the trails are flat. When I came to Vermont I was exposed to mountains such as Camel’s Hump and Mount Mansfield. At these mountains hikers can take leisurely strolls or climb rigorous trails. The CDI’s Long Trail collection contains images of the oldest long- distance hiking trail in the United States: Vermont’s Long Trail. I looked at this collection and realized that everything has history, even hiking.

CABINS! This is a camp that the Green Mountain Club members stopped at during their hikes. This picture portrays Olden Paris, Theron S. Dean, and William Seymour Monroe drying out after a storm. One of gentleman holds a surveying wheel which was used to measure distances. They also have wood for a fire, a clothes line filled with dirty, stained clothes, and a trash bug hung up in the tree. You can see arrows on the trees where they marked the path.

SNOW! Who ever said you can’t hike in the snow! The Long Trail was used throughout the whole year. These gentlemen are at the base of Mount Ellen at 4 A.M. During the winter months hikers wore wool to keep warm. Good thing we have Gore-Tex and synthetic fleeces to stay warm!

TRAILS! These men are building a trail on what we know today as Camel’s Hump. It used to be called Couching Lion. The men used tools such as saws to cut down the trees. They used the trees to build cabins and as fuel for fires.

CLIMBING! This person is using the rocks to help him get up Burnt Rock Mountain. The packs used were heavy and made of leather and canvas. Some of them had straps that went around the forehead of the person. This would help alleviate the weight from the shoulders (but put strain on your neck and is not recommended). Hikers in these days were able to drink out of rivers that flowed through the mountains and therefore did not have to carry water.

TRAIL BLAZING! The man on the right appears to be Herbert Wheaton Congdon. This photograph is during his journey along the Long Trail from Mount Mansfield to the Brandon-Rochester Pass in 1914. He is documenting what he sees and creating a trail map. There is a trail marker in the background held up by rocks. The footwear these men have are not the hiking shoes we see today. They don’t seem like they give you much ankle support or traction climbing rocks and walking through brush but it doesn’t seem to be affecting these guys!

Check out the rest of the Long Trail Collection! Videos about the Long Trail can be found at the UVM Libraries' Vimeo page and at "Live at 5:25"'s online episodes (15:41)

Item of the Month: Photographs of America’s Favorite Pastime

Published: October 05, 2010 by Joanna Riley

My name is Joanna Riley and I am a senior at the University of Vermont. I have recently finished my undergrad degree in Exercise and Movement Science in the college of Nursing and Health Science and am now a first year student in the Doctorial Physical Therapy program. Growing up I was very involved in sports. At some point along the line I participated in basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, swimming, and gymnastics. I am now on the women’s club ice hockey team at the University of Vermont. I have browsed through Louis L. McAllister’s photograph collection and chose several pieces that caught my eye. Part of his collection contains sport pictures and I would like to share what I found intriguing about the different photographs. I leave it to open to you to come up with your own interpretations as well.

Who said women stayed in the kitchen in the 1900’s? These young women from the 1920’s are part of a rifle team. Notice how they are wearing bloomers and not skirts or dresses as you may assume they were required to. There is a number on the uniform of the woman in the front row, three in from the right. I am interested to know what school or group these unidentified athletes are from and what sort of events they competed in.

Baseball is not Americas only favorite past time. For these men it was running. From Athletics, unidentified there is a photograph of the 1928 Burlington High School Track and Field Team posing outside of what was then Edmunds High School and now an Elementary/ Middle school. There are several different uniform versions amongst the athletes. One gentleman has a V on his sweater and is wearing pants. I would assume the “V” to stand for varsity. He could be the team manager. He is the only one in the front row without spikes on his shoes. I wonder if the different uniforms are a mixture of the varsity and junior varsity teams or if all these athletes comprise of one team and are wearing uniforms from different years. Notice the gentlemen in the back row. The two in the middle have different colored shorts on and the one on the right is wearing a nice pair of pants. There is a trophy in the foreground implying the team has recently won a race. After browsing through The City of Burlington Schools Athletic Hall of Fame I found that Edward S. Hutton, Sr. also attended Burlington High School from 1925-1928. He was one of the first black football players at BHS and was also a member of the basketball, track, and baseball team. He is missing from this picture.

This picture is of the Cathedral High School JV basketball team. Cathedral High School is now known as Rice Memorial High School. It is a coeducational Roman Catholic secondary school in South Burlington, Vermont. The boys in the front row are only wearing their jerseys while the ones in the back row have on their warm up jackets. I would believe the first row to be the starting five players on the team. This is one of the few pictures I have come across where the athletes are smiling. They seem to be lined up in the hallway on a tiled floor rather than on the basketball court.

This undated photograph is of unidentified group of bowlers and audience. The location is possibly the Burlington Bowling Arena on Pearl Street in Burlington, Vermont. This looks like candlepin bowling opposed to ten pin. The bowling balls do not appear to be large enough for ten pin bowling. However, depending on the time period there may only have been one type of bowling ball. There is a large audience so I would guess that some sort of tournament is going on at this particular site. The players are also not wearing the typical bowling shoe. The players on both far lanes have on white shoes. In other pieces of McAllister’s work, such as Bowling League, the players have on the typical bowling shoes ( Each of the five bowlers’ are shown in different stances. There are very special techniques used amongst elite bowlers today. The strategy seems to vary player to player in this picture.

The 1944 Bristol girls' basketball team is stationed in front of the old high school in Bristol, Vermont. One of the team members holds a plush panda bear mascot that appears to have one eye and some sort of clothing on. All the girls in the front row also have their left foot slightly in front of their right. This may be their stance during games or just how McAllister aligned them. The girls have similar hair dos and many appear to have makeup on, epically lipstick which is not as common to be seen in athletes today; maybe on picture day but not during a competition. The woman in the back row has a different jacket on than the rest of the team and if you look closely she seems to have high heeled shoes on. She could be the coach of the team. The dynamic of a female team just by looking at a picture is vastly different from a men’s team. The men would probably not have a stuffed animal as their mascot.

Item of the Month: Back to School

Published: August 24, 2010 by Robin Katz

It's back-to-school season here in Burlington, VT. Students and faculty are starting to trickle into the library, and everyone on campus is getting ready for the academic year ahead. In that spirit, our August items of the month feature some of our favorite classroom portraits from the McAllister photographs collection.

This image shows busy students at the Burlington Business College in the 1940s:

This photo of Miss Marjorie B. Adams' Burlington High School French class was taken in the Edmunds High School building in 1954:

Item of the Month: June 2010

Published: June 15, 2010 by Jill Wharton

"Collections of Curiosities": Exhibitions of Circus History in Vermont

The Circus Day in America exhibit currently at the Shelburne Museum (May 16-Oct 24) emphasizes the cultural significance and the enduring fascination of the traveling circus presented to rural New England communities from the 1870s through the mid 20th century.

Our Louis L. McAllister collection complements this history with compelling images that capture both the humanity and exoticism of the circus performers who enlivened Northern Vermont summers during this era.

Browse the "Circus Performers" portraits or view early images of the Shelburne Museum in our McAllister collection here.

Balancing Barbells, McAllister Photographs

Item of the Month: April 2010

Published: April 14, 2010 by Jill Wharton

George Perkins Marsh: The Consummate Collector

It was the 22nd of April 1846, when George Perkins Marsh delivered his decisive address to the U.S. House of Representatives, capping a decade-long struggle to establish the nation's “foremost library, for collections in the various branches of natural knowledge and of art…."

Read the "Speech of Mr. Marsh, of Vermont, on the Bill for Establishing The Smithsonian Institution" in our George Perkins Marsh collection here.

Three months following his official endorsement, the Congress passed legislation founding the Smithsonian Institution as an establishment dedicated to the "increase and diffusion of knowledge," and President James K. Polk signed it into law the same day.

In 1849 the Smithsonian Institution purchased its first collection. The art books and works were commissioned by Regent Marsh, who had also been instrumental in securing an appointment at the Smithsonian for its second Secretary, Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887). Baird, during his 1878-1887 tenure, focused on creating a great national museum which incorporated the government's newly-transferred collection of art works, historical memorabilia, and scientific specimens—formerly housed at the National Institute gallery in the Patent Office Building. Baird prepared all of the government exhibits for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, which granted the Smithsonian enduring national visibility.

Marsh, a committed environmentalist, philologist, ambassador (and sometime Vermont farmer), spent decades as a discerning bibliophile browsing the book-markets of Europe. His interests in linguistics—he spoke more than twenty languages—in scientific conservation, and in histories of New England and classical antiquity not only informed his desire to see the founding of the Smithsonian, they also infused collegiate life at UVM when, in the early 1880s, more than 12,000 volumes from his personal collection were acquired for our campus library by Frederick Billings—who also donated the funds for a magnificent new structure in which to house it:

Billings Library, photograph by Theron Dean, UVM Special Collections

The acquisition of Marsh's library, containing nearly complete archives of The Athaeneum, The Nation and the London Daily News (extending through the whole of the American Civil War), classed UVM holdings with those at Cornell, Yale, and Harvard, and remain the treasures of Bailey-Howe's Special Collections holdings today.

Items of the Month: March 2010

Published: March 01, 2010 by Sophia Lloyd

The March Sugarmaking Tradition

Boiling sap outdoors, Tennie Toussaint photographs

View of an outdoor sugar making operation. Pictured are sap buckets, a boiler over a wood-fire, logs for the fire, and an axe for cutting wood.

Group with horses in front of a sugarhouse, Tennie Toussaint photographs

Horses pulling sap into the sugarhouse.

Did you know that Vermont produces more maple syrup than any other U.S. state? In 2009 we produced 920 thousand gallons of syrup - more than double that of the runner-up, Maine, which produced 395 thousand.

In New England, sugaring season happens between late February and early April, during the spring thaw. Sap flows most optimally when temperatures drop below freezing at night and rise to around 50 degrees F during the day. If you break a twig off of the end of a maple branch on a sunny spring day, chances are you'll soon see sap dripping out! Consequently, the best 'sugarbushes' consist of stands of sugar maples on south-facing slopes; these trees will have maximum exposure to spring sunlight during the day, and thus will ensure the longest possible sugaring season.

Before New England was settled by colonists, Native Americans were learned sugarmakers; collecting sap in birch bark buckets and heating it in earthenware containers in order to reduce it to syrup. Colonists soon caught on to the practice, eventually modifying sap collection technology through the use of metal buckets and evaporators. They also incorporated domesticated livestock, using draft animals in the transportation of sap from the woods to the sugar house.

Maple syrup and maple sugar are now gourmet food items, but in the 17th and 18th centuries maple sugar was the standard sweetener in New England kitchens!

Today, many maple syrup producers have outfitted their sugarbushes with vast networks of plastic pipelines that carry sap directly from every tree to a central holding tank. This circumvents the activity of outfitting each tree with its own bucket, and hence the involved process of transporting dozens of sap-filled buckets over the snowy forest terrain to the sugar house.

There is, however, still a thriving cottage industry, and many families and small farms still collect sap in buckets and boil it down in small sugar shacks. Some even still use horses or oxen! Despite the scale of our maple syrup industry today, small-scale sugarmaking and community maple festivals continue to represent sugaring season in Vermont.

Maple Week at the UVM Libraries

With the help of a grant from the Agriculture Network Information Center, UVM Libraries has undertaken several initiatives relating to the culture, history and ecology of maple syrup production. We have created a Maple Syrup Research Website and are celebrating its launch with Maple Week at the end of March.

Maple Week will feature many events, including a Library Exhibit, a Maple Cook Off, and a lecture by Middlebury College Professor John Elder on the impact of climate change on the maple industry. More information is available on the Maple Syrup website.

The CDI will be adding collections of maple-related materials in upcoming months, and will soon be contributing to the National Agricultural Library's digital library.

Item of the Month: February 2010

Published: February 11, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

How Not to Write a Valentine?

Katherine Fletcher received this Valentine from her high school friend Willis Hubbard. In the poem, circa Valentine's Day 1885, Hubbard professes his love for Katherine, laments his inability to eat or sleep, and dons himself her "lean and lovesick Valentine." Less than a year later, she writes on a letter from Hubbard, "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

Here's hoping your sweetie reacts differently!

Item of the Month: January 2010

Published: January 31, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Let It Snow! Record Snowstorms on the Historical Record

Photograph of Church Street by Louis McAllister, circa 1936

Burlington, VT receives an average snowfall of 19.3 inches in January. A record breaking continuous snowfall shortly after the 2010 new year helped deem this the snowiest January on record by the ninth of the month.

The official count at Burlington International Airport came to 48.4 inches, which beats the January 1978 record of 42.4 inches.

Whether this news inspires you to hit the slopes or hibernate indoors, our inaugural Item of the Month reminds us that, records aside, the Vermont Winter is here to stay.

This photograph by Louis McAllister circa 1936 shows the center of Burlington blanketed by a recent snowstorm.

Today, Church Street is known as one of the first pedestrian malls in the country. To see other materials related to this landmark thoroughfare, search the CDI for "Church Street."