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October 11, 2017

So many national events from the 1960s impacted what came to be in Vermont in the 1970s that it is hard to separate the decades from each other. 

We explore some of those impactful 60s events in programs this month. Join us in Burlington or Barre to learn more. 
Events & Programs
More details on our website
George Aiken
Sam Hand Lecture with Mark Stoler
October 12, 7:00 pm
Waterman Lounge, UVM,
Burlington, VT
Our annual lecture program in honor of historian Samuel B. Hand in partnership with the Center for Research on Vermont. 'Let's Declare Victory and Get Out!': Vermont Senator George D. Aiken and the Vietnam War with Mark Stoler, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont.
Governor Hoff poster
Archives Month Program: 1964: A Watershed Year in Vermont Political and Cultural History
October 18, 6:30 pm
Vermont History Center, Barre, VT
In 1964, the Republican Party lost its tight-fisted grasp on Vermont politics. Novelist Deborah Luskin shows how this shift was more complex and more nuanced than mere politics. Co-sponsored by the Vermont Historic Records Advisory Board and the Vermont Humanities Council.
Spotlight On: Vermont and Vietnam
It' anti war poster s impossible to overstate the impact of the Vietnam War on Vermont's 1970s counterculture. More than that - on Vermont writ large. The impact of the war was felt both deeply personally and at the highest levels of government.

Some came to Vermont not necessarily because of its growing reputation as a back to the land haven, but for its proximity to Canada. Crossing the border was a desperate, last-ditch attempt to avoid being drafted into military service. Some communes provided sanctuary to those traveling north for days, weeks, or even longer.

The question of who did and did not serve in the war was a charged one. Which phrase a person uses - "draft dodger" or "draft resistor" or "conscientious objector" - to describe someone who avoided the draft speaks volumes about that person's background, political leanings, and self-identification.
One man, whose brother was drafted into the Army, told us that his brother's departure was almost simultaneous to the arrival of a new commune in his town. To him, those two things were inextricably emotionally linked. He told us that to this day when he sees people with long hair, he feels a deep burning anger in his gut - and admits that it may not be logical, but it is nearly automatic.

Others told us in detail of their pride in avoiding the draft (whether by faking physical ailment, registering as conscientious objectors, burning their draft cards, or other methods) and still others served and returned home deeply changed.

war demonstration poster  
Protests against the war were behind many of the society-wide feelings of dissatisfaction, disenchantment, and disorientation. If the dominant culture was one that pursued a seemingly endless war like Vietnam, then that culture had to be subverted and replaced by any means necessary. Antiwar protests were a training ground for community organizing, as crucial experience for thousands in nonviolent protest, civic activity, logistics, and shaping public opinion.

At the same time, those who were deeply involved in protesting the war were going against the grain of mainstream American life. Vietnam - and the specter of being drafted - might inspire fear and discomfort, but for many Americans protesting the war felt like a disavowal of America itself. The widespread nature of the draft, and the high casualties of the war, meant that there were few people whose lives were not directly touched by the conflict.

Today, still, Vietnam reigns as one of the central emotionally fracturing experiences of American public life for many. One's actions during the war itself have a major impact on the national discourse - one only has to look at Senator John McCain and the current President to realize that.

It's hard to explain or quantify something that has both a profound and widespread impact on every aspect of life during a time period; few other events in American history come close. 
Support the Project
Join the Vermont Historical Society today and begin enjoying all that VHS has to offer!
When you become a member you help preserve Vermont's Story. More importantly, you help VHS open more minds and educate future generations with exhibits and programs like this, to prepare them for today's world through lessons learned in Vermont's History.

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 Hours
The exhibit will be open Saturday, Dec. 9 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
The exhibit is normally open Monday-Friday,
9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Vermont History Center, 60 Washington St, Barre
Exhibit Closes December 29!
Talking 70s
The Army, they basically take the top of your head, make a circle cut, and take your brain out of it and then they shape it the way they want, and color it, and put it back in.

You're just like a robot and then when you get there you start to realize 'oh wow, this isn't the way I thought it was.'

Discussing serving as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War

From an oral history interview conducted September 15, 2015
Find Oral Histories & Other Resources at
Living 70s Style

60 Washington Street
Barre, VT 05641
(802) 479-8500
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