We’re moving our blog + a new user spotlight post, to boot!

Hello All,

We are excited to report we’re making a move to a new home for our blog! With our new WordPress host, the University of Vermont Libraries, we can present our content to viewers without any advertisements, as well as gain greater controls over our blog’s layout and design. All previous posts have been moved to our new blog. We hope you’ll find our new space easy to navigate and view content!

To kick off our new blog website, we have a brand-new user spotlight interview with the Vermont Department of Transportation’s Brennan Gauthier, who serves as the Archaeologist for the Department. He has made some amazing discoveries with Chronicling America, and we were delighted he was willing to share just a few of his research successes with us.

OUR NEW BLOG: http://library.uvm.edu/vtnp/wordpress/



The VTDNP Team

P.S. While this WordPress account will no longer be updated by our team, it will remain up and available for the time being. We will eventually, and perhaps sooner than later, have this link directly over to our new blog site.

P.S.S. If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please feel free to contact us.




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Historically Speaking Rutland TV Appearance

We would like to dedicate this television appearance to Birdie MacLennan, our Project Director and Principal Investigator, who passed away earlier this week. For this television episode, and as with all else she did, she dedicated a great deal of time, inspiration, and enthusiasm into making this program appearance be the success it is. As with the project itself, it would not have happened without her integral leadership and dedication to Vermont’s history and its historic newspapers. There is so much to be thankful for. We hope you enjoy the episode.


The Vermont Digital Newspaper Project traveled to Rutland, Vermont, a few weeks ago to be guest presenters on the Rutland Historical Society’s public access television show, Historically Speaking. Every month, the Rutland Historical Society produces a new program on their local public access television station, PEGTV, on various historical topics.

Director and Principal Investigator Birdie MacLennan, Project Librarian Erenst Anip, and Digital Support Specialist Karyn Norwood, met with the curator of the Rutland Historical Society and host of the show, Jim Davidson, to introduce the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, Chronicling America, and highlight some intriguing local history stories, as well as offer some helpful search tips.


Photo by Erenst Anip of the PEGTV main office space.

The half-hour episode can be viewed on tv now until the end of the month on PEGTV, Rutland’s Community Access television channel Public 15, on Wednesdays at 4 pm, Thursdays at 1:30 pm, and Fridays at 7:30 pm.

The video can also be viewed on demand online here: Historically Speaking Episode #132

As well, you can also view this episode, and the 131 past episodes, through the Rutland Historical Society’s webpage by visiting this page: Historically Speaking. Then, click on the highlighted link, “Rutland Community Access PEGTV’s On Demand.” Type in “Historically Speaking” in the search box, and the episode will be listed.

We hope you enjoy the show! It was a great deal of fun to film and prepare for. We are very thankful to Jim Davidson, who is also a member of our Advisory Committee, for the invitation to talk on his program. He is a wonderful host. A sincere thank you, as well, to the PEGTV staff who made this all possible! Innumerable thanks to Birdie MacLennan, for her powerpoint expertise (which we were all wowed by!) and leadership in the coordination of the episode’s content. We will miss you.

Finally, we encourage you to view past episodes of the show through the Rutland Historical Society’s webpage (where our episode will eventually be archived), as well as visit the historical society’s museum in downtown Rutland.


Photo by Erenst Anip of the television set-up.

More photos of the visit can be found on our Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vtdnp/sets/72157641864279663/

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Our Project Director and Principal Investigator, Birdie MacLennan

With immense sadness, we write to inform of the loss of our Director and Principal Investigator, Birdie MacLennan. Without Birdie’s leadership, expertise, dedication, and passion for Vermont’s history and its historic newspapers, our project would not be the great success that it is today.

Below, we share the announcement made today by the University of Vermont’s Dean of University Libraries and Resources, Mara Saule. Please join us in celebrating Birdie’s life, contributions, and achievements. She will be greatly missed.

Very Best,

Karyn Norwood, Erenst Anip, and Prudence Doherty


It is with great sadness that we share that our colleague, Library Professor Birdie MacLennan, passed away after a brief illness on March 10, 2014.

Birdie began working in the Libraries’ Cataloging Department in 1990, after working at Harvard University and Merrimack College and receiving a Master of Library Sciences from Simmons College. Since 2008, she served as Director of the UVM Libraries’ Resource Description and Analysis Services Department.  Her service to the library profession resulted in widespread recognition from her peers around the world. She was also an active member of the UVM faculty, with many years of service on the Faculty Senate’s Professional Standards Committee.

In 2005 she received a Master of Arts in French from UVM; these studies greatly informed her teaching and scholarship. She was the Libraries’ subject liaison to the Romance Languages department, where her growing proficiencies in French and Italian benefited faculty and students and satisfied her deep intellectual curiosity. Birdie was an accomplished and internationally recognized scholar, with particularly strong ties to Québec. Her in-depth research on the Grande Bibliothèque of Québec resulted in published works on libraries and cultural identity. She was an active member of the Burlington Italian Club and the Alliance Française Lake Champlain Region Chapter.

Birdie leaves behind a powerful and passionate legacy as a steward of Vermont history. Through projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, she helped to ensure preservation copies and digital access for Vermont’s historic newspapers. Most recently, she served as Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, securing multiple rounds of funding and overseeing the creation of 250,000 pages of digital content, much of which is now available on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.

Birdie was a devoted colleague and mentor, dedicated to serving students, faculty, staff, and librarians-in-training. She was compassionate, generous, and supportive to all who knew her.  She will be profoundly missed in the faculty and staff of the University Libraries and as a valuable faculty member at the University of Vermont. She is survived by her sister Anne MacLennan Perkins, her niece Dominika Perkins, and her brother-in-law Donald Perkins of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The Libraries are establishing a fund to further Birdie’s work preserving Vermont’s newspapers and will create a local digital collection in her name. Checks can be made payable to the UVM Foundation and directed to the UVM Libraries, in honor of Birdie MacLennan (The University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Main St., Burlington, VT 05401). Memorial services are pending and will be announced soon.


Mara Saule
Chief Information Officer and
Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources


Birdie after a Chinese calligraphy lesson in Singapore last year. She wrote, “The character represents: Longevity, Life, Vivacity 壽 in the traditional Chinese script.”

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Vermont Papers Tell the Story of Solomon Northup

While the Academy Award-winning film, 12 Years a Slave, has recently been the subject of articles in Vermont newspapers, stories about Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York State who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, first appeared in Vermont papers during the 1850s. A search of Chronicling America titles indicates that Vermont papers printed articles about Northup’s rescue and also covered the subsequent arrests and trials of his kidnappers and the man who sold him into slavery.

watchman1853feb10_3On February 10, 1853, a long article from the New York Daily Times appeared on the front page of the Vermont Watchman and State Journal. In great detail, it described Henry B. Northup’s 1852 journey to Louisiana to rescue Solomon Northup and the arrest and trial of James H. Burch, the Washington DC slave trader who sold Solomon Northup in 1841. Burch convincingly argued that he sold Northup believing that he was a slave, and the court discharged the case.

Later, the two men who kidnapped Northup were identified and arrested. On August 9, 1852, the Middlebury Register ran a short article anticipating that the kidnappers were “likely to end their base careers by TEN YEARS OF SLAVERY in the penitentiary.”

On November 1, 1854, the Register reported that the kidnappers’ trial was delayed by the lack of witnesses. In February 1855, the Vermont Watchman reported further delays because the defendants raised jurisdictional issues. Ultimately, the case collapsed and the two men spent only seven months in jail.

The VTDNP recently digitized three antislavery papers, including the Green Mountain Freeman, which will soon be available at Chronicling America. On January 23, 1855, the Freeman reported that sixty people who gathered at the Free Church in Montpelier gained “a new feeling of hatred and horror of slavery” when Solomon Northup lectured about his twelve years of bondage.

The Middlebury Register reported a strange twist in the Northup story in its August 1, 1855 issue. An article reprinted from the Whitehall (NY) Chronicle described the arrest of Henry B. Northup, Solomon’s rescuer, in Pittsburgh on charges of being a slave catcher. He was released only after a telegram from New York confirmed that he was indeed not a slave catcher.

-P. Doherty

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The Barre Telegram, Parte Italiana, and S. Pallavicini


From 1898 to 1903, Henry C. Whitaker edited the Barre Evening Telegram, which will soon be available in Chronicling America. Barre was the center of Vermont’s thriving granite industry, with a significant population of Scottish and Italian immigrants, and the Telegram reported on the granite business, union and labor issues, and immigrant activities. For a very brief period during Whitaker’s tenure, the Telegram included an Italian language section, “Parte Italiana.” Whitaker invited Salvatore Pallavicini to compile the section for the city’s rapidly expanding Italian colony. Pallavicini was an interesting choice, as he was active in the transnational Italian anarchist network.

Pallavicini is somewhat obscure in the historical record. It’s not known when he came to the United States, but sources report that he published anarchist Pietro Gori’s play Primo Maggio and a newspaper, Lo Scalpellino (The Stonecutter) in Barre in 1896. (Note: An Italian paper of the same name was published around 1915 in Barre.)  He represented New York’s Italian Typographical Union at an 1897 rally celebrating the assassination of a Spanish politician, and also supported striking textile workers in Summit, New Jersey during the summer of 1898. During the same month that he was compiling “Parte Italiana” for the Telegram, he contributed two articles to La Question Sociale, a leading anarchist paper published in Paterson, New Jersey.

ImageIn the first issue of “Parte Italiana,” Pallavicini promised that the news would be presented in a neutral manner, but in the January 2, 1899 issue, he filled most of the half-page section with an article in which he wondered if 1899 would be the year that workers would rise against tyrants. The Telegram ended the Italian section without comment, although Italian advertisements for local businesses ran for several more weeks.

Later in January, the Telegram ran advertisements for a lecture series by the anarchist and activist Emma Goldman. Pallavicini was her host, and she remembered him as “a cultivated man, well-informed not only on the international labor movement, but also on the new tendencies in Italian art and letters.” Goldman delivered three of four planned lectures. The Telegram reported favorably on the first one, but did not comment on the next two. Barre police canceled the fourth lecture, but local anarchists—perhaps including Pallavicini—printed and distributed copies of her speech.

The 1899 Barre city directory indicates that Pallavicini lived at 47 Granite Street, across from the site where the Socialist Labor Party hall would soon stand. Vermont naturalization records show that Salvatore Pallavicini, born 1851 in Italy, became an American citizen in 1899.  An ad in the Telegram indicates that he worked for a local wood and coal dealer, serving as an agent to the Italian colony.  In 1900, the city directory noted that Pallavicini had left the United States for France, where he died in 1901. After his death, newspapers and police reports implicated him in the 1901 assassination of Italy’s King Umberto I.

Image-P. Doherty

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Our first French-language title, Le Patriote Canadien

Patriote-banner Now available on Chronicling America, our first French-language title, Le Patriote canadien! Published from 1839 to 1840 by the well-known French-Canadian printer and VT-Phoenix-Duvernayjournalist, Ludger Duvernay, Le Patriote canadien is an enduring chronicle of the ties between Vermont and Québec during an important period of history.  The Rebellion in Lower Canada / La rébellion du Bas-Canada in 1837-1838, marked the culmination of a long political conflict  between the civil population of Lower Canada (now Québec) and the forces of the colonial British government. As tensions mounted, armed clashes erupted between the rebels or ‘patriotes’ and the British. Martial law was declared, and many patriots were exiled under pain of death. Claiming civil rights and the establishment of an independent Canadian Republic, many of the exiles fled across the border to Vermont. In the wake of these circumstances, in August 1839, Le Patriote canadien emerged in Burlington, published by Duvernay, a prominent exile and consummate journalist, as an organ of dissemination and communication to flame the fire of rebellion against the injustices of the colonial regime.

Ludger Duvernay (1799-1852), 1832, by Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy (1778-1848), Journalist, printer, publisher of Le Patriote Canadien, Burlington, Vermont, 1839-1840. Oil on canvas, Montréal, Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Ludger-Duvernay House.

Ludger Duvernay (1799-1852), 1832, by Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy (1778-1848).

A printer by profession, Duvernay published a number of newspapers in Canada, including the Gazette des Trois-Rivières  and La Minerve which supported the Parti Patriote (the Patriote’s political party) and Louis-Joseph Papineau in the years leading up to the Rebellion. On November 16, 1837, facing an arrest warrant, his printing office was sacked and he was forced to flee. Duvernay was appointed officer of a small Patriote battalion and, on December 6, 1837, took part in the Battle of Moore’s Corner, near Saint-Armand, along the border with Vermont. Defeated, he took refuge in Vermont.

Duvernay found a more liberal environment in Burlington for publishing his views of the injustices of the regime in Canada. The banner reads, “Journal hebdomadaire, politique, historique, littéraire et industriel” [Weekly, political, historical, literary and industrial journal] and gives a central place to the Patriote motto “l’union fait la force” [strength in unity].  Le Patriote canadien

Banner detail: "L'Union fait la Force" [Strength in Unity]

Banner detail: “L’Union fait la Force” [Strength in Unity]

contains chronicles of various episodes of the rebellion, along with stories and poems celebrating popular uprisings against governments in Canada or Europe. The journal also offers Canadian news, articles translated from foreign newspapers and advertisements. The vast majority of the newspaper is written in French, but each issue contains at least one article in English, often a translation of the most important article of the issue. Duvernay himself wrote most of the texts of the Patriote canadien, which reflects the political thought of the publisher, as well as the various issues faced by the exiled patriots living in the United States in the 1830-1840s. However, Le Patriote canadien also offers more general reflections on education, agriculture and industrialization.

The issue for September 4, 1839, includes a remarkably rich bilingual “topographical notice” which gives a detailed, description Burlington on the front page.

Le Patriote canadien. (Burlington, Vt.), 04 Sept. 1839. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.  Extract from a bilingual article: Notice topographique/ Topographical notice – detailed description of Burlington, Vermont.  4 Septembre 1839, p. 1.

Le Patriote canadien. (Burlington, Vt.), 04 Sept. 1839. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90000507/1839-09-04/ed-1/seq-1/> Extract from a bilingual article: Notice topographique/ Topographical notice – detailed description of Burlington, Vermont. 4 Septembre 1839, p. 1.

Le Patriote canadien is distinguished as the first French-language newspaper to be published in New England.  We are very pleased that Le Patriote canadien is now available in its entirety at the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America web site.

For the complete list of Vermont’s historical newspapers in Chronicling America, see: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/vermont/

- Birdie MacLennan and Fanny Mion-Mouton



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Genealogy Search Tips for Chronicling America


Often marriages are printed in varying detail in historic newspapers. This notice appeared, among others, in the Bennington Banner and Reformer, October 15, 1903.

The search for ancestors, while generally rewarding, can be difficult and time-consuming; as an amateur genealogist I can attest to this. For genealogy research, certainly, historic newspapers contain a wealth of information about relatives, for newspapers can include local news, marriages and deaths, participant lists (military recruitment lists, organizations, meetings, parties), advertisements, social and political functions, local individual updates (e.g., “Mrs. William Johnson received her parents this past Wednesday”–these may or may not be helpful!), and legal notices (deeds, court happenings, divorces, estates). This is, if you can find it amid hundreds of thousands of pages. Generally, this has often meant hours of scanning newspaper microfilm or going through actual newspapers at a historical society or library.

Thankfully, Chronicling America provides an online platform for searching historic newspapers from across the United States. Chronicling America is an accessible and free search tool that greatly eases the search of newspapers for traces of the past. Currently, thirty-eight states, including Vermont, have over 6.6 million pages from 1,105 newspapers available for search on the website from the years of 1836-1922.

Genealogy Search Tips:


Local personal updates were usually printed in most papers by the late 19th century, containing a variety of news including marriages, licenses, enlistments, and real estate purchases. Note too the different ways people’s names were typed. This is from the Burlington Weekly Free Press in 1918.

Searching on Chronicling America is not without its own challenges. Sometimes you get zero results, sometimes you might get thousands! It can be daunting; however, adapting and modifying your search parameters is essential to closing in on the results that you are searching for. Below, some key helpful hints on genealogy searches.

  • Diversify your search terms.
  1. For example, try the full name, first and middle initial and last name (e.g., W.D. Barrows), maiden name, or just a last name (be prepared for a lot of search results!).
  2. Consider that first names might be abbreviated (Chas. for Charles).  A woman usually was identified by her husband’s first and last name.
  3. Try searching also schools, affiliated organizations, street names, family businesses. For example, if I knew that my family surname was Green and that they owned an oil company. I might try “Green Oil Company” in my search.
  4. Historic vocabulary: Vocabulary has changed quite a bit since the 19th and the early 20th century, which should be kept in mind when commencing searches. For example, if you know your great-grandfather owned a general store in a small Vermont town, you should try using “dry goods” as a search term. Spellings have also altered over time–take for instance, in the excerpt below, the spelling of center as “centre.”

An excerpt from the “Business Cards” section of the Vermont Daily Transcript from 1868, which contains now uncommonly used words such as proprietor, dealer, dry goods, notions, and chancery.

5. It’s important to remember that the search technology is not perfect; it does not pick up every word on the page, which is why it’s useful to diversify your search terms.                     6.Typos occur often in historic newspapers (there was no spell check), so try different spellings of names, too.                                                                                                                          7. If you are looking for something specific, such as a marriage, you can try a search of “marriage” and the last name.


I did a general search in this example. Here I limited it to the state of Vermont and searched for the name “W.D. Roberts.” I received a total of 152 search results–not bad for a basic search!

  • Narrow (or expand) your search parameters, using the basic and advanced search options on Chronicling America.
  1. For example, if you are looking for a relative in the Civil War who fought in the 1st Vermont Cavalry, you could limit your location to Vermont, search a variety of terms, and narrow the years to 1861-1865.
  2. You can also narrow the search by newspaper. If you know your relative lived in Bennington, Vermont, you could search under the “Advanced Search” button under the Bennington Evening Banner newspaper pages only.
  3. If you are finding your search restrictions are coming up with too little results, try eliminating some of your constraints.
  4. Another option, as seen in the example below, is to search “with any of the words,” “all of the words,” “with the phrase,” and “with the words within x number of spaces.” Trying a combination of these could led to more results.

Under the Advanced Search, you can apply multiple search restrictions, including searching by state, a specific newspaper, specific year or date time frame, language, and vary your word parameters.

There are other guides online that provide a good deal of assistance with genealogy research on Chronicling America, including:

  • A very helpful and detailed powerpoint presentation with great search examples by past VTDNP Project Librarian Tom McMurdo on how to search Chronicling America for genealogy purposes.
  • Search strategies by the Library of Congress for Chronicling America for both basic and advanced searches as well .
  • State blog entries: Hawaii Digital Newspaper Project and South Carolina Digital Newspaper Project both have published short entries on searching genealogy newspaper content Chronicling America.
  • The Ohio Historical Society has created a useful interactive document on how to search on Chronicling America, as well as a genealogy-specific powerpoint on how to search Chronicling America.

Vermont Newspapers Digitized on Chronicling America:

Other free (nearby) online newspaper databases:

Happy searching! Remember you can bookmark newspaper pages and download, save, and print pdfs, jpegs, and jp2s from Chronicling America. If you have any suggestions, success stories, or questions, please contact Karyn at knorwood@uvm.edu.

-Karyn Norwood, Digital Support Specialist

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