Vermont Historical Society comes to Brattleboro to present statewide award

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Vermont Historical Society comes to Brattleboro to present statewide award

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 4:22am -- tim
Brattleboro Words Project Honored

Vermont Business Magazine In a special honor for the town, Stephen Perkins, Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society (VHS), will travel to Brattleboro to present the annual Richard O. Hathaway Award for best historical project in the state to the five local institutions who created and led the National Endowment for the Humanities, multi-year Brattleboro Words Project. The award presentation will take place on Thursday, December 2, 2021, at noon at 118 Elliot, 118 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301. Capacity is limited, so the public must register in advance by emailing

“The Brattleboro Words Project has created for our community and visitors from near and far three very accessible, informative ways to learn about our literary, printing, and publishing legacy," Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell said. "Each initiative, a mobile app and website that continues to grow over time (the Brattleboro Words Trail), a traveling ceramic mural exhibit, and a published book (Print Town: Brattleboro’s Legacy of Words) combine to make local history more accessible to our families, schools, and our visiting tourists.”

Perkins will present the award to Words Project partners who will gather for a photo opportunity: Starr LaTronica and Jeanne Walsh, Brooks Memorial Library; Sandy Rouse, Brattleboro Literary Festival; Reg Martell and Bill Holiday, Brattleboro HIstorical Society; Rolf Parker and Arlene Distler, Write Action; William Edelglass, PhD, Lead Scholar (represented Marlboro College which administered the Project before it closed) and Lissa Weinmann, Project Director.  Town Manager Peter Ellwell, Andy Davis, of the Vermont Folklife Center (current Project administrator), Vermont State Rep. Mollie Burke (just named to the VHS board) and other area leaders will be on hand to  celebrate this rare honor for the town.

“Creatively conceived as an inclusive, town-wide effort, the Brattleboro Words Project built new relationships around history by linking amateur historians of all ages with professionals who guided them to produce skillful products and content that is accurate and well-researched,” Perkins said. “Though we give the award based on the Project as completed to this point, we know that stories, events, and art will continue to be added to this meaningful and important initiative.”

The Project worked with a variety of scholars to assure rigorous research standards and in some cases corrected historical errors,” John Carnahan, former head of the Brattleboro Historical Society, said. “For instance, Frederick Douglass scholar John Grayson, while working with the Project research team, discovered that Frederick Douglass’ speech in Brattleboro was different from the one originally advertised and appears to mark the first time Douglass spoke publicly about Lincoln’s assassination.”

“I can honestly say, for a project developed by a group of citizens, the Brattleboro Words Trail is the most impressive piece of public humanities work I’ve ever seen,” Mara Williams, former chief curator for the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and early champion on the Project, said. “It is a remarkable achievement.”

“With so many different voices, different approaches, and so many subjects, this Project helps us understand the richness and complexity of the Brattleboro area. It also challenges us to keep telling stories to strengthen our community, deepen our sense of the many experiences of this place, and build connections across differences," William Edelglass, PhD, Project co-founder and principal scholar, said.

The Brattleboro Words Trail continues to assist community members and students to create new audio stories for the Trail, add historical markers, perform research and present events. Evolving Words Trail murals by local artist Cynthia Parker Houghton are on view at Project headquarters at 118 Elliot, but will eventually be featured in a central location in town in an exciting development that will be announced soon. To learn more about internships, audio production and volunteering to keep building the Trail, contact: Please note that attendance at the December 2 Hathaway Award event will be limited to fully vaccinated and masked attendees to prevent Covid transmission.

Caption: The Brattleboro Words Trail Mobile App’s Downtown Tour beckons people to listen to stories while visiting sites, but any story can be instantly accessed by searching any name and ‘brattleboro words trail’

Source: Brattleboro Vermont: 29 November 2021