Vermont Historical Society
The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) was founded in 1838 to preserve and record the cultural history of the US state of Vermont. Headquartered in the old Spaulding School Building in Barre, the Vermont History Center is home to the Vermont Historical Society's administrative offices, the Leahy Library and a small gift shop. In Montpelier the Society operates the Vermont History Museum in the Pavilion building, just east of the Vermont State House.
The Vermont Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects residents, scholars, educators, and students with Vermont’s rich heritage and with one another. It strives to set a high standard for statewide work in Vermont history and provide leadership in Vermont history education by providing access to the Society’s collections and programming.
The Vermont Historical Society mission statement was revised in 2006. It reads:
"The Vermont Historical Society engages both Vermonters and "Vermonters at heart" in the exploration of our state's rich heritage. Our purpose is to reach a broad audience through our outstanding collections, statewide outreach, and dynamic programming. We believe that an understanding of the past changes lives and builds better communities."
- Vermont Historical Society was founded in 1838 to preserve and record Vermont’s history and culture.
- Vermont Historical Society is guided by 22 trustees and five officers, who are elected by the members at the annual meeting and conference.
- There are approximately 2,500 members.
- It has 15 full-time and 4 part-time employees
Named after Howard and Alba Leahy, the Leahy Library opened to the public in July 2002 and is a valuable resource for individualized research. The library offers access to 50,000 catalogued books and serial titles, 1,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 30,000 photographs, 8,700 broadsides, more than 1,000 maps and an online public access catalogue. In addition, the library has the largest printed genealogical collection in the state.
Vermont History Museum
Vermont Historical Society also operates the Vermont History Museum, which is located in Montpelier and housed in the Pavilion building next to the state capital. It boasts a collection of 20,000 artifacts including fine arts, crafts, household goods, clothing, agricultural tools, and industrial products from the pre-contact period to present.
The Vermont History Museum's award-winning permanent exhibit, "Freedom and Unity: One Ideal, Many Stories," allows visitors to walk through 350 years of Vermont history (1600s-present). Opened in March 2004, the multimedia exhibit fills 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of the Pavilion building in Montpelier. Visitors move through a visual timeline and experience such recreations as a full-sized Abenaki wigwam, the Catamount Tavern where Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys gathered, a railroad station complete with a working telegraph and a WWII living room furnished with period music and magazines.
This exhibit is also presented online.
The Vermont Historical Society offers many programs, workshops and conferences on Vermont history. A full calendar of programs and events and links to all Vermont Historical Society programs, auxiliary websites and projects are available on the Vermont Historical Society website.
Vermont History Expo
The organization's signature event is the Vermont History Expo, in which a collection of 150+ local historical societies, museums, and heritage organizations meet every other year to create a fresh picture of Vermont history with exhibits, music, family activities, music, food, presentations, performances, and much more! In 2010, Yankee Magazine selected the History Expo as one of "New England's Best Events." The event takes place in scenic Tunbridge, Vermont, and visitors in period dress enter at a discounted fee.
Family and School Programs
Vermont Historical Society’s education department provides a wide range of programming for families, teachers, and students. Students and teachers can experience history with free field trips to the museum, history lending kits, and Vermont History Day, which allows students to delve thoroughly into a historical topic.
The Vermont Historical Society also offers an auxiliary website, Vermont History Explorer, geared to help children and teachers explore Vermont History. It includes maps, documents, approximately 150 photographs, and over 200 grade-appropriate articles about Vermont history.
Vermont Women’s History Project
The Vermont Women's History Project is a program that highlights the role women have played in shaping Vermont's history. By providing resources and programs, Vermont Historical Society makes this important information available to students, researchers, and anyone interested in Vermont women and their accomplishments.
League of Local Historical Societies & Museums
Since 1943, the Vermont Historical Society has provided outreach and support to Vermont’s local history community through the League of Local Historical Societies and Museums. The League partners with all 192 of the state’s small public libraries and 200 local museums and heritage organizations to provide free consultation on collections care and using technology to enhance rural access to historical information. This technical assistance includes collections care, e-newsletters, achievement awards program annual conference, and a publication listing all of Vermont's local historical societies.
The Vermont Historical Society publishes History Connections: Vermont Historical Society News and Notes, a quarterly newsletter and the semi-annual journal Vermont History, the Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society. The Vermont Historical Society also publishes books and exhibition catalogs on aspects of Vermont history, such as Freedom & Unity, Crossings, and Almost Utopia, which focus on lesser known aspects of Vermont history.
The Vermont Historical Society also offers two e-newsletters: the weekly Local History e-News, and the quarterly general history interest e-newsletter.
- 2010 Yankee Editor’s Choice – museum exhibit and Vermont History Expo
- 2007 National Medel of Honor, IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Service) – one of ten awards given for outstanding community programs.
- 2004 AASLH (American Association for State and Local History) – Freedom and Unity museum exhibit.
- The Vermont Historical Society
- Duffy, John J., et al. The Vermont Encyclopedia. University Press of New England: 2003. ISBN 1-58465-086-9.
- Informational handouts. Vermont Historical Society. September 2011.
- Spaulding School Building
- Vermont Explorer
- Freedom and Unity