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Collection Summary
Administrative Information
Related Collection
Acquisition Information
The Collection
Publication Rights:
Container List
Series I: Hoff Administration
Series II. New York City-Vermont Youth Project
Series III. Hoff Senatorial Campaign
Series IV. Personal Correspondence
Series V. Unidentified Tapes

Benjamin Collins Papers

Collection Summary

University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections
Creator - Creator
Collins, Benjamin M.
Benjamin Collins Papers
Date [inclusive]
16.0 Linear feet sixteen linear feet
Shelf location
Library Research Annex.
The Ben Collins Papers consist of approximately sixteen linear feet of materials spanning a twenty year period from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970's. The collection is divided into four major sub-divisions: Hoff Administration; The New York City-Vermont Youth Project; Hoff Senatorial Campaign; Personal Correspondence.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] Benjamin Collins Papers, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections 1998 


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Alice Soule-Collins

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Benjamin McVickar Collins was born in Rhinebeck, New York on April 16, 1928. Educated at the Oakwood School, he graduated in 1944 at age 16. Collins attended Haverford College, majoring in political science. After graduation in 1948 Collins entered the U.S. Army, serving until 1952, including seventeen months in Korea as an intelligence section chief for a military engineering construction group. Discharged as a master sergeant, he continued his education in the MSW program at Columbia University. After a short stint as a reporter for the Middletown (NY) Times Herald, Collins was hired in 1954 to serve as state desk reporter for the Burlington Free Press. During the 1958-61 legislative sessions he worked for the Vermont Press Bureau, providing legislative coverage for eight Vermont dailies. During the 1960 and 1961 sessions he was appointed Bureau chief. In 1961 he became managing editor of the Caledonian Record, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. During this period he also worked as the Vermont correspondent for Newsweek, and served as a regular panelist on "You Can Quote Me," a weekly Vermont news program on WCAX-TV. His work at the capital and his progressive political ideas caught the attention of freshman Governor Philip H. Hoff, Vermont's first democratic governor since 1853. Collins was appointed as special assistant to the governor in January, 1964, replacing state Democratic Party leader John Spencer who resigned his post for "health reasons." Collins quickly became the dominant voice in Hoff's "kitchen cabinet." Many journalists felt that Collins and Hoff shared a "co-governorship." He was chief liaison with the press and state administration; developed policy in coordination with the governor's staff; and led the movement within the Governor's office for rapid social and economic change in the state. At the end of Hoff's second term, Tom Kenney, Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, resigned his post to resume a lucrative law practice. Collins became the logical succesor. The Secretary traditionally served as the governor's chief aide; Collins followed the pattern. He supervised the governor's staff, served as chief liaison with all executive departments, coordinated the New York City-Vermont Youth Project in 1968, and became the administration's leading spokesman. In 1969, Collins was appointed executive director of the New York City-Vermont youth Project (Youth Project of Vermont, Inc.), which had become a private non-profit organization at the close of the Hoff administration. In early 1970 it became evident that the program would not receive major philanthropic support. Collins resigned his post and became director of Hoff's unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Winston Prouty. Collins coordinatted the campaign until September, 1970. He then accepted a position at Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont as vice-president for administration. Collins continued at Goddard until 1975. He was Executive Director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council in Barre from 1976 until his death from cancer in 1982.

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The Collection

The Ben Collins Papers consist of approximately sixteen linear feet of materials spanning a twenty year period from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970's. The collection is divided into four major sub-divisions. Each division is arranged alphabetically by topic, chronologically within topics. The arrangement of the divisions also reflects the chronological progression of Collins' career. The largest group in the collection is the Hoff Administration papers. These cartons contain material from 1964-68 during Collins' tenure in the administration. Approximately four linear feet of manuscripts comprise the second sub-division of the collection, The New York City-Vermont Youth Project. This group contains manuscripts and photographs, as well as audio and videotapes from the two year experiment in racial understanding, begun in 1968 in response to the Kerner-Lindsay Report on Civil Disorder. Materials in the Hoff Senatorial Campaign subdivision relate exlusively to activities between January and November, 1970 during Hoff's campaign for the U.S. Senate. Collins' Personal Correspondence is designated as a final subdivision. The materials cover a twenty year span, from Collins' years as a reporter to his tenure on the Goddard College administration, although much of the correspondence focuses on his activities in the Hoff administration.

The Collins Papers cover a period of dramatic governmental growth and change in Vermont and reflect the reform spirit of the 1960's and of the Hoff administration. The collection is particularly strong in the areas in which Collins had the most responsibility-- civil rights, economic opportunity, constitutional revision, employment and labor, and general administration. The Collins collection also shows off Collins' strength as a writer. He drafted most of Governor Hoff's speeches, and represented him at events across the state. Many of the speeches underwent several drafts as the chief executive and his chief administrator honed their liberal message for Vermonters.

The Hoff Senatorial Campaign and Personal Correspondence subdivisions also reflec the ideological gap which developed between Collins and Hoff. In confidential memoranda and in his resignation letter from the Hoff senatorial campaign Collins appeared impatient with what he perceived as Hoff's shift from liberal to moderate democratic ideals.

The manuscripts in the New York City-Vermont Youth Project subdivisiion complement the larger Wilbur collection of New York City-Vermont Youth Project materials. The Collins papers contian project correspondence, reports and evaluations and administrative paperwork (W-4 forms, grant applications, medical insurance claims, etc.) Two films on the project, "The First Step" and "We Are Not Afraid," as well as tape recordings of evaluation hearings, are included.

As in the larger collection of Hoff gubernatorial papers, the Ben Collins Papers contain correspondence with noted state and national figures including: William Meyer, Robert "Bill" Daniels, Madeleine Kunin, Richard Snelling, John Daley, Winston Prouty, George Aiken, Robert Stafford, Hubert Humphrey, Edward M. Kennedy, John Kenneth Galbraith, Daniel Inouye, and more.

In the papers, researchers will find useful illustrations of a chief executive's relations with his staff, and the effects of rapid social and political change on small state governments.

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Related Materials

Related Collection

Vermont-New York City Youth Project

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Goddard College.
  • Youth Project of Vermont.
  • Youth Service Agency New York (N.Y.).


  • Audiotapes
  • Correspondence
  • Speeches
  • Videotapes

Geographic Name(s)

  • Vermont--Politics and government


  • Governors--Vermont

Personal Name(s)

  • Hoff, Philip H.


  • Civil rights
  • Economic assistance, Domestic--United States
  • Labor
  • Political campaigns
  • Politics--Vermont
  • Social reform--Political aspects
  • Youth--Counseling of

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