History

The Vermont Constitution may be amended to clarify its ban on slavery.
Wikimedia Commons

It's often repeated that Vermont's was the first state constitution to outlaw slavery, but the language of the document may actually have some caveats. Sponsors of a constitutional amendment want to change the language to make the ban absolute. We're talking about the history and the proposal.

David McGhee grew up with two mysteries. One was his grandmother's suitcase — it was full of stuff she shared with no one. The other mystery was about the boy's grandfather, a soldier who died before David was born.

David was only 9 years old when he first got a glimpse of what was inside his grandmother's suitcase.

"She was actually going in for something else, but I saw that picture," David said, asking her who was in that photo. It was her parents, she told him. She then quickly zipped up the suitcase. She didn't speak another word about it.

Ron Bos-Lun, right, portrays Charles Henry in the new play, "Charles Henry's Last Curtain." Sally Regentine, left, plays his daughter Grace.
Malcolm Blue, Courtesy

Vermont’s historic painted curtains hang in town halls and granges all over the state, harkening back to a time when vaudeville and local theater were the main sources of entertainment in rural towns.

Now a Broadway playwright has developed a play that looks at one of Vermont’s most prolific painted curtain artists.

Hundreds of jack-o'-lanterns light up Winooski's Rotary Square during the 2017 Festival of Pumpkins. It's just one of many Vermont Halloween traditions.
Paul Sarne / City of Winooski, courtesy

From haunted places to aged cemeteries to long-whispered ghost stories, Vermont has what it takes for a spooky Halloween. But what unique traditions do you or your community have for Halloween? We're taking a tour of some places, history and stories that scream "Halloween." 

General George J. Stannard, left, Colonel Henry Whiting, center, and an unnamed soldier.
Vermont Historical Society, courtesy

Civil War General George Stannard called a Milton farmhouse home after the war, and efforts are now underway to restore that farmhouse and honor the military career of the Vermont general as part of larger strides toward a Vermont Civil War Heritage Trail. We're talking about Gen. Stannard and the role he played in the outcome of the Civil War.

Cartoonist Jason Lutes, whose self portrait appears top left, spent more than 20 years writing and drawing the multi-volume historical epic "Berlin." The final volume was published in September.
Jason Lutes / Drawn & Quarterly

A grizzled journalist writing through his middle age. A young artist in her 20s fleeing an upper middle-class life traced out by her parents. The two meet on a train headed to Berlin in 1928, and their lives unfold, connect and diverge amid the backdrop of a changing Germany between the World Wars. They're among the characters in the graphic novel Berlin by cartoonist and Center for Cartoon Studies professor Jason Lutes.

Teacher Steve Butz, left, helps Lucas Kindel with an iPad that will take a 3D photo on a site Butz thinks dates back to the end of the 18th century.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

There’s a good chance that one of Vermont’s most important historical sites has been hidden away high on a mountaintop in Bennington County. And teacher Steve Butz has been spending the past five years trying to uncover it and let the world know what’s hidden there.

Angela Evancie / VPR

You know the feeling. You’re driving along, somewhere in Vermont, and you turn onto a road with an intriguing name. And you wonder where it came from.

Barbara George, a volunteer at the Estey Organ Museum, looks over a pile of broken organs at the museum's storage facility.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A southern Vermont museum dedicated to organs has found itself with a surplus of the instruments.

Artist Lois Eby, farmer Greg Cox and Supreme Court Associate Justice Marilyn Skoglund.
Amy Noyes/Nina Keck/Angela Evancie / VPR

For the free-thinkers and radicals who moved to Vermont in the 1960s and 1970s, the past may be obscured in a cloud of … wood … smoke. But what does the present look like?

Crews in the White Mountains will spend the summer repairing the oldest hiking trail in continuous use in America. Crawford Path has carried countless hikers to the summit of Mount Washington for nearly 200 years, and endured a lot of wear and tear along the way.

Now it’s getting a badly needed facelift, to mark the White Mountain National Forest’s hundredth birthday

A statue of Ethan Allen outside the Vermont Statehouse on a blue-sky day.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

You probably at least know Ethan Allen as one of the founders of the state of Vermont — a sort of mythic, heroic figure. Well, a new book tells a more complicated story of Allen and the Green Mountain Boys and the battles they fought. 

Verandah Porche, courtesy

Brave Little State is working on an episode about Vermont's "aging hippies" — if that’s you, we want to hear from you.

Old Stone House Museum Director Molly Veysey and Deputy Director Walter Parenteau stand in front of the Orleans County Historical Society building and under the sign.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Next week the Old Stone House Museum, in Brownington, opens for the season. And the Orleans County Historical Society’s museum has a pair of new leaders with some big ideas for the popular school field trip destination.

Men work in a granite processing facility.
Vermont Historical Society

There was a time when it was totally normal to hear French spoken in some of Vermont’s smallest towns and biggest cities.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast is home to some of the earliest history of European settlers anywhere in the country. Believe it or not, much of that history is still being uncovered.

But now climate change and sea-level rise is adding new urgency to those efforts.

NHPR’s Jason Moon joined a UNH researcher for a hike to see a centuries-old archaeological site that is literally washing away.

frimages / iStockphoto.com

Since we started this show, there’s a question we’ve gotten a lot: Why are so many young people leaving the state?

Angela Evancie / VPR

Just how culturally different is the Northeast Kingdom from the rest of the state? Can it be quantified in any way, or is it largely legend?

This catamount is on display at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier.
Matthew Johnson / Vermont Historical Society

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there is no evidence that the catamount is still roaming in the Northeast, and the federal agency has officially removed the large cat from the federal endangered species list.

On this "Vermont Edition" we speak with Mark Bushnell, author of "Hidden History of Vermont."
Mark Bushnell, Courtesy

The new book Hidden History of Vermont collects 15 years of Mark Bushnell's writing about the state’s past.

There are up-close-and-personal stories about well-known figures like Ethan Allen, and obscure but fascinating people like Lucy Cook, who cured patients while in a trance.

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