Vermont Humanities

Before Your Time Podcast Series

Image of canal near Bellows Falls

Before Your Time is produced by Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Historical Society. Every episode, we go inside the stacks at the Vermont Historical Society to look at an object from their permanent collection that tells us something unique about our state. Then, we take a closer look at the people, the events, or the ideas that surround each artifact.


Before Your Time: Canal Fever!

In the summer of 1829, three Army surveyors created a map exploring a potential canal route that would have connected Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River. “Canal Fever” was gripping the region, with the success of the Erie Canal. But this quantum leap in transportation technology would have to contend with an even bigger idea: the railroads.

A man in a black and white photo walks towards a bay of cows being milked in a barn while holding a piece of milking equipment

Before Your Time: Call it A New Life

Technological improvements, from butter churns to electricity, transformed life on Vermont farms from the 1890s through the mid-20th century. Many of these changes eased the workload of Vermont’s farming families. But other changes – done in the name of modernity – had long-term impacts on the future of dairy in our state.

Dairy farmer loading hay on a wagon near Brandon, Vermont, August 1941. Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

Before Your Time: A Foot in Both Worlds

People speaking Spanish as they milk cows may not fit our traditional image of a Vermont farm. But workers from Mexico and Central America are crucial to the state’s economy. And such migrant labor has a long history in Vermont.

Man with shotgun leaning against a fake tree with a catamount at his feet

Before Your Time: The Curious Catamount

Though said to be extinct, catamounts live on in the minds of many Vermonters. In this episode we retrace a Barnard panther hunt from 1881 and consider the hold that these large cats continue to have on our imaginations.

Camera crew shooting in Pittsford Vermont in 1950

Before Your Time: A Town Solves a Problem

Town meeting is central to our identity as a little state on a human scale that does things differently. But what happens to town meeting when it needs to change during a pandemic? Or when it changes because Vermont itself has changed?

Boy looking into mailbox. Photo by Library of Congress

Before Your Time: Send Me a Box

We examine some of the products that people have mailed from and to Vermont, from maple syrup to complete houses and almost everything in between.

Kenneth O'Donnell by Suzanne Opton

Before Your Time: Vermont on the Silver Screen

From “A Vermont Romance” to “Funny Farm,” our state has been featured in films for over a century. What are the myths that Hollywood creates about our lives in Vermont? And what are the myths that we create ourselves?

Children gathered on highway for Green Up Day in 1970

Before Your Time: Green Up Day

Vermont’s Green Up Day celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In 1970, the day featured closed interstate highways, coerced schoolchildren, and shouted encouragement from a buzzing Cessna.

Three women who hiked the Long Trail in 1927.

Before Your Time: The Long Enough Trail

Stories from those who founded, hiked, and loved Vermont’s Long Trail, including the first women to through-hike the “footpath in the wilderness” in 1927.

Before Your Time: Princes and Free Men

It’s well-known that Vermont is one of the whitest states in the Union. And so the stories of African American Vermonters can sometimes get forgotten, no matter how important they have been to our state’s and our nation’s history.

Jose before barbed wire fence by Marek Bennett

Before Your Time: After the Crossing

Many different groups of people, from many different continents, have helped build our state. But from the 19th century through 2019, the stories of immigrants have largely been excluded from the popular image of Vermont.

Ryan Newswanger with Glenn Eames and old bike

Before Your Time: Green Mountain Grab Bag

It’s a shame that some of the things we record get edited out of our stories. So here’s an episode of lost clips: bike whistles, pewter purists, halfway houses on the border, needlework, and the grave of “Vermont’s Donald Trump.”

Vermont Humanities*** November 6, 2017