page top

What's New

Historical Maps of Burlington and Winooski Now Online

Published: February 26, 2013 by Chris Burns

Historical Maps of Burlington and Winooski, Vermont

The Center for Digital Initiatives has launched its first collection of Vermont maps, Historical Maps of Burlington and Winooski, Vermont. Ten of the most frequently used maps in Special Collections are now available online. .

The collection contains wall maps, city plans, and atlas sheets published between 1830-1890, a period when Burlington became the largest city in Vermont and a center of commerce and industry on Lake Champlain. The earlier maps show the village and rural sections of the town of Burlington, which extended from Lake Champlain on the east to Muddy Brook on the west, and from the Winooski River on the north and the town of Shelburne on the south. Later maps cover the City of Burlington, which was established in 1865 when most of the rural areas were set off to create the town of South Burlington. Maps of the neighboring village of Winooski are also included in the collection.

The maps show streets, buildings and lots, building owners’ names and functions, parks, cemeteries, wards, railroads, and some natural features. Some of the maps include illustrations of prominent buildings and business directories.

A zoom function makes it possible to extract detailed information, such as the horse racing track at Howard Park in the southern part of town on the 1890 map of Burlington.

The University of Vermont as shown on one of the 1869 maps.

A section of the business directory on the 1869 map of Winooski Falls.

Vermont Folklife Center + CDI Digitize Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song

Published: June 21, 2011 by Chris Burns

Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song

The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives, in collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song.

A Collaboration

The Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song, a collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center, is an online database of French and English language songs drawn from two sources: nine song-book manuscripts collected by Martha Pellerin that date to the mid-twentieth century, and a series of six interviews conducted by Martha with Alberta Gagné of Highgate, Vermont in 1998. The original materials are from the Vermont Folklife Center's collection.

The songs that make up the collection include traditional French Canadian materials, commercial popular songs from Canada, France and the United States, family songs, personal songs, bawdy songs and religious songs. The Pellerin Collection is not a complete or inclusive document of Franco-American and French Canadian song. Rather it is a record of the performance repertoires of particular individuals of French Canadian descent, including Martha's parents Yvonne and Hervé, as well as those of Irma Labonté, Adelard Guay and Alberta Gagné.

Bixby Memorial Free Library + CDI Digitize Images of Vergennes (Vt.)

Published: May 05, 2011 by Chris Burns

Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.)

The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives, in collaboration with the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes is pleased to announce the launch of the Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.) collection.

A Collaboration

The collection contains 788 photographs of Vergennes, Vermont from the special collections of the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes. Drawing from the library’s vast holdings of historical material, the Center for Digital Initiatives worked with student and Ferrisburgh resident Elias Baldwin to scan four boxes of 35mm slides from the Bixby. The resulting images make up Photographs of Vergennes, Vermont, an online collection documenting daily life in Vergennes from 1866 to 1988.

The Little City

He may not have stayed very long, but Commodore Thomas MacDonough left quite an impression on the little city of Vergennes. During the winter of 1813-14, he oversaw the building of several gunboats down by the waterfall, and in the fall sailed his little fleet down Otter Creek to miraculously defeat the British navy at the Battle of Plattsburg on September 11. One of his boats launched just forty days after its timber was cut from a nearby forest.

Vergennes residents had not lost any pride in this by 1914, when they threw a huge celebration in honor of the Commodore. Two forty-foot arches were built at either end of Main Street, and from every building in between hung banners and flags. At the ensuing parade, hundreds of spectators lined the city streets. After the parade one of the floats, a replica of MacDonough’s flagship Saratoga sat marooned on Water Street by the old Baptist Church. A photographer walking by captured the little boat, seemingly run aground on the sidewalk.

Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.) gives new life to many unique and rare images and users can easily search and browse images on the CDI's site. Parades, buildings, people, scenery, businesses, and industry make up a large portion of the collection, along with 145 stunning color photographs from the traumatic Vergennes Fire of 1958. Log on and see why Vermont’s oldest city has such pride in its history, and how perhaps Commodore MacDonough’s only mistake was not enjoying the Little City for longer.

Now Online: Civil War Letters and Diaries

Published: April 14, 2011 by Chris Burns

Vermonters in the Civil War

“When the order to retreat came, the wonder is that we were not all cut off, for the enemy had already outflanked us…and gave us a peppering of grape and canister as we withdrew.” –Lt. Roswell Farnham

We are pleased to announce the launch of Vermonters in the Civil War.

Vermont soldiers in the Civil War wrote an enormous quantity of letters and diaries, of which many thousands have survived in libraries, historical societies, and in private hands. The Center for Digital Initiatives’ latest collection, Vermonters in the Civil War, represents a selection of letters and diaries from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society.

The collection includes materials dating from 1861 at the start of the Civil War, and will grow with additional materials throughout the years of the sesquicentennial commemoration, from 2011 through 2015. The digitized materials provide a variety of perspectives on events and issues. The voices represented in the collection include private soldiers and officers, as well as a few civilians.

Subject content for the 1861 letters and diaries covers a great deal of ground. The many logistical issues involved in launching the war effort come to light in the letters of General John W. Phelps, while officers such as Lieutenant Roswell Farnham often made thoughtful observations on the events and personalities in the camps and in the field. The enlisted men occasionally described important events in detail, but more often wrote about everyday life and concerns. Eyewitness accounts of 1861 engagements at Big Bethel (June 9-10), Bull Run (July 21), and Lewinsville (September 11) reveal the motivations and expectations of the men in arms, while descriptions of living conditions, drilling, sickness, and political intrigue provide insight on the soldiers’ experiences.

Faculty Focus Group on New Prospect Collection

Published: February 09, 2011 by Robin M. Katz

Faculty Focus Group

On the new Prospect Archive of Children's Work and related research fellowships.

Friday, February 18, 2011
3:00 PM - Waterman 455

Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to cdi@uvm.edu.

We'd like to hear your ideas for its application in teaching and research.
Participants may want to read these short pieces on the collection's Methodology page:

  • “A Letter to Parents and Teachers on Some Ways of Looking at and Reflecting on Children” by Patricia F. Carini, pp 13 – 19
  • “Collecting and Describing Children’s Works at Prospect” by Patricia F. Carini, pp 27 - 29

New Online Resource

The UVM Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives is pleased to announce the launch of the Prospect Archive of Children's Work. This unique collection offers a longitudinal look at the art and writing of nine children, as well as teacher records and information on Prospect's unique methodology. It is now available online at http://cdi.uvm.edu.

Upcoming Fellowship Opportunities

Beginning in 2012, the Prospect School and Center for Education and Research Fund will support two research fellowship initiatives that are designed to encourage faculty, independent researchers, students, classroom teachers, principals, administrators, and other community members active in school affairs to benefit from the Prospect School and Center for Education and Research Archives located at the University of Vermont Libraries Special Collections department.

About Prospect

The Prospect School (1965-1991), deeply influenced by the philosophy of John Dewey, and in particular his commitment to the agency for the learner and his conviction that the desire for learning is inherent in every person, enrolled children from all walks of life, from age 4 through 14, with tuition waived or adjusted according to need.

The Prospect Center (1979-2010), under the leadership of co-founder Patricia Carini, developed a disciplined, collaborative method for understanding children as thinkers and learners called the descriptive review of the child. The descriptive review is a mode of inquiry that draws on the rich, detailed knowledge teachers and parents have of children and on their ability to describe those children in full and balanced ways, so that they become visible as complex persons with particular strengths, interests, and capacities.

Fleming + CDI Digitize Beautiful Images of Japan

Published: February 01, 2011 by Robin M. Katz

A Tourist's Album of Japan

Katherine Wolcott and her uncle, Robert Hull Fleming, compiled this photo album on their visit to Japan in 1909. It contains nearly 40 leaves of collected photographs and postcards, numbering two to three per album page. The pictures range in content, some depicting staged photos of daily life while others portray landscapes and countryside. The album itself measures approximately 11 x 14 x 4 inches. Users can view the entire album, or individual images.

A Collaboration

This collection represents a collaboration between the university's Robert Hull Fleming Museum, where the album is housed, and the CDI. Conceived of as part of the Museum's Shadows of the Samurai: Japanese Warrior Traditions exhibit, this new online resource invites many perspectives on early twentieth century Japan.

Japan in Context

Wolcott’s album captures a unique view of Japan at the brink of burgeoning Western influence. After defeating the Russians in the Russo Japanese War (1904-05), Japan began to cement itself as a global power, and its efforts to modernize began to attract Westerners. The images in this album depict a Japan with a strong national heritage and cultural appreciation as well as a newfound embrace of modernization and technology.Most of the pictures in the album sold commercially as a form of postcard. In the early 1900s, the Japanese populace began consuming millions of these types of commercially produced picture postcards. Eventually, the medium became so popular that it started to replace the more traditional wood block print. The citizenry sought pictures of their budding nation, wanting to hold a still image of the rapidly modernizing and changing countryside.

Now Online: Prospect Archive of Children's Work

Published: January 20, 2011 by Robin M. Katz

Prospect Archive of Children's Work

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Prospect Archive of Children's Work. This unique collection offers a longitudinal look at the art and writing of nine children, as well as teacher records and information on the unique Prospect School and Center.

About Prospect

The Prospect School (1965-1991), deeply influenced by the philosophy of John Dewey, and in particular his commitment to the agency for the learner and his conviction that the desire for learning is inherent in every person, enrolled children from all walks of life, from age 4 through 14, with tuition waived or adjusted according to need.

The Prospect Center (1979-2010), under the leadership of co-founder Patricia Carini, developed a disciplined, collaborative method for understanding children as thinkers and learners called the descriptive review of the child. The descriptive review is a mode of inquiry that draws on the rich, detailed knowledge teachers and parents have of children and on their ability to describe those children in full and balanced ways, so that they become visible as complex persons with particular strengths, interests, and capacities.

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

Now Available: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

Published: June 30, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

The CDI has digitized the libraries' medeival and renaissance manuscripts. This collection was created with the help of Travis Puller, curator of the library's 2009 exhibit Medeival and Renaissance Manuscripts: Witnesses from Our Written Past.

Based on Puller's previous work, we scanned and described 21 loose manuscripts and 10 bound items created across Europe and the Middle East and dating from the 12th to 17th centuries CE.

Later this year, we plan to add the manuscripts housed in UVM's Fleming Museum and to share our digital collection with the Digital Scriptorium.

CDI to Present Local History Resources on TV This Thursday

Published: February 23, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Mark your calendars!

Live at 5:25 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - Channel 17

The CDI will share some of its excellent local history resources with the audience of Preservation Burlington's "Live at 5:25." Outreach Librarian Robin Katz will be joined by two UVM Libraries staff members who have helped create CDI collections.

Mary Van Buren-Swasey of the Cataloging department uses her local history expertise to create rich museum-level descriptive records for the ongoing additions to the McAllister photograph collection. Dan DeSanto, a staff member in Reference and Instruction and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama's School of Library and Information Science, is currently working on our forthcoming collection of Long Trail photographs.

Robin, Mary and Dan will highlight collection materials, share anecdotes about the research involved in digital collection production, and invite viewers to further explore the CDI.

Update: Watch the Video Online


See how the CDI was mentioned on a previous "Live at 5:25" show entitled "Researching Your Old House" and featuring historian and museum consultant Erica Donnis.

Now Available: Fletcher Family Letters

Published: March 06, 2009 by Chris Burns

Thanks to a generous gift from Frederika Northrop Sargent, a new collection of nineteenth-century family correspondence is now available through the University of Vermont’s Center for Digital Initiatives.

The letters were collected by Vermonter Ruth Colton Fletcher (1810-1903) and are part of the Consuelo Northrop Bailey Papers. Many of the letters are from family members who moved west to New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas and sent reports full of interesting details about the people, economy, institutions, and activities to family back home. The correspondents recount the hard work they faced as they created and managed farms in new states and territories and often share meticulous lists of the prices of land, grains, stock, and groceries. Writers document the burdens of sickness and death that their families endured and often provide accounts of their medical treatments. Enos Fletcher and Charles Hogan write about their military experience during the Civil War, and other correspondents refer to the war and its effects on their communities. In one letter, Ruth's son Andrew describes the 1864 Confederate raid on the banks in the border town of St. Albans, where he was working.

The digital collection includes images of 148 letters, encoded and searchable transcriptions of the letters, and a collection overview with a list of the correspondents and their relationships.

View the collection here.

Now Available: Hay Harvesting in the 1940's Collection

Published: November 05, 2008 by Chris Burns

We are pleased to announce a new collection which documents Hay Harvesting in the 1940's

In the 1940’s, Robert M. Carter, of the University of Vermont Agricultural Expriment Station, conducted a study of hay harvesting techniques and costs in Vermont. This collection documents that work which resulted in several published studies and three films showing different hay harvesting techniques.

The films capture hay harvesting at a time when there was an increasing use of power machinery, and they show a range of techniques including older methods of hand harvesting, as well as newer tractor driven methods. In Carter’s study he writes, “While nearly half of all farmers contacted relied upon horses for handling some field equipment, combinations of horse- and motor-operated equipment were frequent. Forty-one percent of the farmers owned tractors, and 21 percent had trucks.” These films capture hay harvesting right in the middle of the transition from horse to machine driven equipment.

Preservation and digitization of these films was made possible through a generous grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

View the collection here.

Now Available: The Louis L. McAllister Photograph collection

Published: December 17, 2007 by Winona Salesky

The CDI has started working on an ambitious digitization project involving the Louis L. McAllister Photograph collection. The Louis L. McAllister Photograph collection provides a window into 60 years of Burlington area history.

Louis Lloyd McAllister was born in Columbus, Ohio on October 16, 1877, the son of Rosa (Gould) and William G. McAllister. His father, a native of Warren VT, was a maker of tintypes in Bristol prior to the Civil War. L.L. returned to Vermont and began photographing in Randolph in 1897. His photographs of the Burlington area span a large area of topics, including, group and individual portraits, documentation of building construction and Burlington Street Department projects, and more. McAllister died April 28, 1963, ending a sixty-year career as a Burlington area photographer.

The collection will take several years to digitize and describe. Read more about the collection and view the first 150 photographs here. Additional photographs are published on a regular basis.

Transcripts for hand written letters

Published: October 19, 2007 by Winona Salesky

Full text transcripts of the letters of Jacob Collamer and Samuel Crafts are now available along with the page images of each letter.

To explore this collection you may browse the collection, search the collection, or browse the letters by author.