Vermont Eugenics, the Rutland connection

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

“One eugenical scheme to purify the state’s polluted protoplasm was bring in a better class of Vermonters — tourists and summer homeowners.”

What is one of the first things you notice when you cross the border back into Vermont? No billboards, right? What about the other features we take for granted: tourist information booths, great hiking trails, summer homes — many, many summer homes — cabins, cottages and even a few mansions. Yes, our tourist industry is one of the major things that keeps Vermont on the map. We have a brand that, thanks in part to various movie references across the decades, is known even internationally. And we are proud of it.

But what if I told you this tourist industry had racist and socially discriminatory roots? That even the construction of Route 7 and the improvement of other highways starting in the 1930s were to make our state more attractive and accessible to the “right” people”? Continue reading

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Meigs & Farr: Touching the lives of children

Cordelia Meigs & Shirley Farr

Cordelia Meigs & Shirley Farr

I thought this was just going to be a story about two early-20th-century Brandon women who made great contributions to our state. And it still is. But there’s a twist — one that found me reading a conspiracy theory about Howard Dean. Continue reading

Berenice R. Tuttle: A force to be reckoned with

Berenice TuttleOne of my favorite buildings in Rutland, one I was thrilled to see renovated, is the Tuttle Building on Center Street. The wide central staircase is gorgeous. That it disappears into a false ceiling adds an air of mystery, prompting me to turn in my imagination to a time when slick-haired, ink-smudged men were hurrying up and down, stacks of paper in arm. And apparently there was also at least one long- (or maybe a not so long-) skirted woman. Continue reading