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March 1, 2017

March is Women's History Month and the 1970s were a particularly active time for the exploration of women's rights, changing expectations, and new opportunities. Many of the oral histories collected for this project talk both about the desire and attempt to subvert traditional roles, while experiencing the reality of a culture that was not easily (or certainly quickly) changeable. And what is a "new" woman's role anyway?

We'll reflect on some of those experiences at our March 15th discussion at Goddard College. If you can't make the program- we hope to be able to stream it online via Facebook Live.
Events & Programs
More info on VHS events available on our website
Blazing Saddles poster1970s Fun: Movies
March 11, 9:00am to 4:00pm
Vermont History Center, Barre, VT
Join us for special exhibit hours & 1970s movie screenings. 10:00 am - Deerhunter; 2:00 pm - Blazing Saddles. Movies are Free with Admission to the History Center.
woman with radishes Women and the Counterculture
March 15, 7:00pm
Haybarn Theatre, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT
What was it like for women who participated in the counterculture in the 1970s? Bring your ideas, questions, and thoughts for a far-reaching roundtable conversation reflecting on the past and its connections to the present. In partnership with the Vermont Commission on Women.
coloring page- VW bus Drop-In Coloring & Special Exhibit Hours
March 22, 6:00 to 8:00 pm
Vermont History Center, Barre,VT
Stop in to color some groovy 70s' themed illustrations while visiting the "Freaks, Radicals & Hippies" exhibit during these special evening hours.
Spotlight On: the Redbird Collective
Gay Pride Parade 
One of the many social justice issues that received energy and attention during the 1970s was increased awareness of and advocacy for LGBTQ rights. History often overlooks the stories of those who d on't conform to standard definitions of gender or sexuality, and the 1970s were a time of extraordinary growth for those who had previously been marginalized.
In Vermont, there were many examples of this, but one particularly interesting one was the Redbird Collective.

Redbird was a collective of lesbians living in Hinesburg, VT. It had formed in Burlington as a loose confederation of women taking care of each other, and by the middle of the decade eight women and three children purchased land and began to build a house. They lived off the land, and refused to allow power tools because they felt it would disturb nature. (Hear more from Joyce Cheney, a founding member, in one of the oral histories collected for this project.)

house _ teepee
Redbird became part of a larger dialogue when the Lesbian Defense Fund formed in Burlington to defend one of its members in a custody battle. That member won her court case in 1977, and the Lesbian Defense Fund took on other cases nationally, working to help keep children with their mothers.

Members of the Redbird Collective were thoroughly committed to developing a new social order. Some believed that collective ownership of land by women was a strike at the patriarchy, and its system of single male ownership. Others believed that women had a more intuitive and sacred connection to land.

De cisions were made by consensus, and debate could last for hours - over the most mundane decisions as well as enormous questions about how people might be treated based on their appearance. Members were encouraged to be open about their experiences, and to contest a societal power dynamic that placed men's narratives above women's. Euan Bear, a later member, spoke to us about Redbird's process of self-crit, an in-depth examination of an individual's feelings, values, and emotions that could be difficult.

Many members worked in Burlington in social welfare organizations for collective income: fundraising for women's shelters, doing shifts at the Onion River Co-op, and helping at health clinics. Still other women taught themselves skills like welding, carpentry, and farming and would hire themselves out.

Eventually, Redbird dissolved as a community, and its members became part of the fabric of Vermont's community again. Joyce Cheney went on to write a book about lesbian collectives across the United States titled Lesbian Land, published in 1985, and Euan Bear also became an author and editor, shining light on issues of child abuse and working for the LGBG publication Out in the Mountains for many years.

Photos courtesy of Joyce Cheney
Support the Project
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grant #MA-10-14-0279-14

Additional support provided by Cabot Creamery Cooperative, UVM Extension Service, and Yankee Farm Credit.

Special Exhibit Hours
Mar 11: 9:00am-4:00pm
Mar 22: 6:00-8:00pm
Apr 8: 9:00am-4:00pm
Apr 19: 6:00-8:00pm
May 13: 9:00am-4:00pm 
The exhibit is normally open Monday-Friday,
9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Vermont History Center, 60 Washington St, Barre
Talking 70s
My lab partner was living in the house with Timothy Leary...dropping acid, I think, fairly regularly... We were dissecting a frog...and I remember sorta saying to him "Is this the femoral artery?" and him replying, in a sort of dazed way, "Look at that red! What an incredible red! You can see the whole universe in that red!" 
Discussing his time at Harvard University in the 1960s. From an oral history collected December 14, 2015
Find Oral Histories & Other Resources at
Living 70s Style
The perfect 1970s sports movie

Photos capturing the essence of  1970s L.A.

Tracking a Russian "spy" in 1970s NJ
View the video of our awesome Farmers Night concert with the Barre Rock City Chorus featuring songs of the 60s and 70s
60 Washington Street
Barre, VT 05641
(802) 479-8500
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