From VTDNP 2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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User Spotlight Series: Vermont Milk Chocolate Company

Periodically, we’ll be interviewing researchers and showcasing projects that are using content from Vermont historical newspapers on Chronicling America.

Our first interviewee is Frances Gubler, a graduate historic preservation student at the University of Vermont, who has been conducting research this fall on historic industrial and manufacturing buildings on Flynn ???????Avenue in Burlington, Vermont, as part of a class research project. Fran graciously agreed to meet and share some of her newspaper findings.

To start, I asked Fran what she found valuable about Chronicling America.
“Chronicling America is easy to use. Microfilm is interesting, but it is also intimidating. With Chronicling America, you can do a quick keyword search and get results,” said Fran.

In particular, Fran found Chronicling America invaluable for a certain Burlington factory, the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company. Before searching Chronicling America, she had found an insignificant amount of extant information on the company. She knew from the Burlington city directories that the factory was located at 208 Flynn Street in the early twentieth century, but did not know the Chocolate Company had actually constructed the factory building itself until finding an article on Chronicling America from January 10, 1918, describing the company’s first big order of a million dollars worth of chocolate from the Massachusetts Chocolate Company, days after the company’s factory was completed on Flynn Avenue.


Details of incredible amounts of Belgium chocolate from the Burlington Weekly Free Press, January 10, 1918.

The other article Fran shared with me told of a quite a different turn of events for the company. In bitter, perhaps ironic, contrast, only half a year later, the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company was in the headlines for a million dollars again, but this time it was for a great loss.


News of the horrific fire and the immediate rebuilding plan were detailed in great depth in the Burlington Weekly Free Press on May 2, 1918.

With these two articles, among others, Fran was able to piece together a more complete history of the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company. Fran, along with the rest of the historic preservation graduate students in HP206: Researching Historic Sites and Structures, will be publishing all research findings online at the end of the semester. We’ll be sure to post the link when it comes out!

An immense thanks to Frances Gubler for taking the time to talk with me about the project, Chronicling America, and her local history research.

UVM’s Historic Preservation Program has also conducted similar research projects in the past using Chronicling America. Last year’s HP206 class did research on historic Burlington postcard views. View their research findings here.

-Karyn Norwood


If you have used Chronicling America for research, and would be interested in being featured in our user spotlight series, email Karyn at We love hearing about all the interesting and innovative ways that Chronicling America and Vermont historical newspaper content are being utilized.

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You’ve Heard The Phrase “100-Year Storm?”

As the world turns its sympathy toward the Philippine islands devastated, just days ago, by the largest typhoon in recorded history, a fascinating fact has emerged and moved explosively across the Internet:

Just over a century ago, those same islands – indeed that same nearly destroyed town on the island of Leyte, Tacloban – were raked by another death-dealing typhoon that was estimated to have killed 15,000.

How was this fact verified? By reference sources available right on the web, housed here at the Library of Congress on a site known as “Chronicling America.”  The site offers hundreds of old newspapers, online, and is searchable. It’s a joint project of the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Activity on that site (especially from mobile devices) suddenly spiked starting two days ago – it was five or six times the traffic of a normal day — and when our web analysts looked into it, they found typhoon links and a big upsurge in traffic from users in the Philippines underpinning that.

Here’s the link that went viral.

The Washington herald. (Washington, D.C.) 1906-1939, November 30, 1912, It’s a shame that it takes a tragedy – make that two tragedies – to bring this excellent research tool into focus.  And, while this is indeed a sad story, looking at old newspapers isn’t exactly drudgery – you may notice, while doing research in old papers, how easy it is to be distracted by the highly opinionated writing, the ads for everything from corsets to cure-all medicines and the odd, sometimes ridiculous illustrations. If you’re not careful, you’ll never get that research done!

The suffering denizens of Leyte will include no one who can remember their past as far back as 1912; sadly, they were condemned to repeat it.  But there’s a glimmer of hope in this history as well – Tacloban made a comeback after that horrifying storm 100 years ago. Presumably it can again.

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150 YEARS AGO: “The Dedication of Gettysburg Cemetery,” The Caledonian, Nov. 27, 1863

The Library of Congress picked an article from The Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, VT) to commemorate the event:

On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln presided over the dedication of a new National Cemetery at Gettysburg, PA, site of one of the most destructive battles of the Civil War (see the Chronicling America Topics Page on the Battle of Gettysburg – – to explore further). The Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, VT) joined other newspapers across the country in describing the events of the day for its readers, including reprinting Lincoln’s now famous speech beginning with “Four score and seven years ago…” The speech was described as “a perfect gem,” “unexpected in its verbal perfection and beauty….” Read more about it!

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IFLA World Library & Information Congress 2013. From our perspective; Erenst Anip & Birdie MacLennan.

At the UVM Libraries Staff & Faculty Development Committee brown bag lunch talk on November 14, 2013, Birdie and Erenst share their experience at the pre-conference, conference and Singapore in general. It was fun to share our experiences in Singapore. Read more about it!

IFLA Singapore experience talk
Slideshow of the presentation in pdf format is available on VTDNP Outreach webpage along with our presentation slides at the IFLA conference:

Direct pdf link:



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Behind The Scene: Production Update of November 2013

Recently, VTDNP workspace received the rest of the microfilm reels to be digitized from our vendor. Approximately 76 reels of historic Vermont newspapers are ready to be digitized. These titles can be found on the bottom of this page. Please note that we pair master negative microfilm reel with its duplicate negative side by side. We also will add working microfilm copy (the ones stacked on top of the reels) for quality inspection.

Microfilms close up Microfilms close up Microfilms close up Microfilms close up Microfilms close up

Also, we have received the digitized files of Cronaca Sovversiva. Please scroll down to see one version of their illustrated mast heads. We’ll keep you updated when the title have been ingested into Chronicling America‘s database. Grazie!

Cronaca Sovversiva masthead 1905

Cronaca Sovversiva masthead from Saturday, January 7, 1905. Year 3 Number 1.

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A Spectral Story: Queen City Cotton Mill Ghost


“Burlington’s Ghost.” From the Vermont Watchman, November 28, 1900.

Happy Halloween, or as the historic newspapers have it, happy Hallowe’en, from VTDNP!

Halloween is today, and thus, it’s appropriate to share a ghostly tale that captivated Burlingtonians at the turn of the twentieth-century at the Queen City Cotton Mill on Burlington’s waterfront. Dozens of people attested to witnessing the apparition of a recently-deceased mill worker, Marie Blais, around the premise of the property.

Marie was hit by a train in June of 1900 at the Lakeside railroad crossing, and was killed immediately.

By that fall, stories of the female mill ghost became prevalent–the lights of the trains would flicker when passing over where Marie was killed, and people attested to seeing visions of the girl near the railroad tracks and of her working at her old loom in the mill at night. Some even attested to hearing screams near the track.

Marie was not the only person to die while crossing the railroad tracks on the Burlington waterfront. The trains moved frequently and fast transporting goods from the waterfront factories, and there were no safe crossings. By 1908, however, there was an effort to make an underpass by the cotton mill. At a hearing in January of 1908, it was claimed that daily over 500 mill workers had to cross the railroad tracks multiple times a day, when the trains were frequently moving. In that same year, an underpass was created.

The Queen City Cotton Mill building is still extant on 128 Lakeside Avenue and the tracks where Marie died are nearby, if you are so inclined to visit the site. However, as the author of the article, “Burlington’s Ghost,” advises, “Did you ever see a ghost? If so you can appreciate what happens nightly at the Queen City cotton mill. If you are weak and have little courage, keep away.”

Want some more ghost stories? Spectral stories were posted in historic Vermont newspapers with some prevalence, along with other works of fiction and poetry–newspapers provided an wide range of entertainment literature, beyond political and local news.

Here’s some additional spooky stories printed in Vermont papers:


How DO church yards yawn? Image from the story “When Church Yards Yawn.”

A Singular Story, Fisher’s Ghost,” Vermont watchman and state journal, September 29, 1853.

When Church Yards Yawn,” Burlington weekly free press, May 30, 1912.

A Ghost Story,” Vermont phoenix, May 7, 1846.

A Good Ghost Story,” St. Johnsbury Caledonian, May 24, 1878.

A Hallowe’en Party,” Burlington weekly free press, November 4, 1915.

Last minute Hallowe’en supplies needed? See this ad from 1919.

-Karyn Norwood

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