Green Mountain Digital Archive

-Prudence Doherty, Archives Month Committee Member

We often read about exciting documents discovered in dark and dusty archives. However, these days researchers are just as likely to make those discoveries online. To make the process of finding digital materials from Vermont repositories easier, the Green Mountain Digital Archive (GMDA) brings over 72,000 items from eight partners and four contributing institutions together in one searchable database.

The GMDA partner institutions, including Middlebury College, Norwich University, the Rockingham Free Public Library, St. Michael’s College, the University of Vermont, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Historical Society, and the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, collaborate to support a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) service hub for Vermont. Contributing libraries and archives include the Bixby Memorial Library (Vergennes), the Brooks Memorial Library (Brattleboro), the Stewart-Swift Research Center at the Henry Sheldon Museum and the Vermont Folklife Center. GMDA participation in the DPLA is supported through generous funding provided by the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Vermont Department of Libraries.

The materials represented in the GMDA include photographs, documents, maps, recordings and other resources, mostly related to Vermont but also extending beyond the state.  At the GMDA site, you can search by keyword. The results appear as a list of thumbnail images, accompanied by brief descriptions and a link to see the item at the contributor’s site. You can refine the results by subject, date, language and contributing institution.

To explore the site, we searched for items related to two subjects of current interest: Halloween and elections. A search for “Halloween” produced 55 results from three institutions and included a great group of vintage holiday cards, photographs of parties held for children, and groups in masks and costumes.

Halloween greetings from a collection of holiday cards at Special Collections and Archives, Middlebury College. The postcard was mailed from Syracuse, New York to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1909.
Child decorating a pumpkin at a Big Brother/Big Sister Halloween party sometime between 1989 and 2005, from the St. Michael’s College Archives.
L. L. McAllister photographed this costumed and masked group in 1947-1948. From Silver Special Collections, University of Vermont.

Not surprisingly, GMDA contains many photographs, documents and other items related to political campaigns, elections and voting from the early nineteenth century to almost present day from many of the participating institutions.

Calvin Coolidge took advantage of two innovations during the 1924 presidential election: the automobile and the radio. With radio broadcasts, the Coolidge campaign reached millions in their living rooms. This August 1924 photograph shows Coolidge standing next to an automobile equipped with radio equipment. From the Vermont Historical Society’s collection of Coolidge portraits.
Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy with St. Michael’s College President Bernard Boutin during a 1960 campaign stop. The poster on the wall proclaims, “He has served all New England with distinction!” From the St. Michael’s College Archives.

The GMDA is a rich resource for research and discovery that can be explored not only during Archives Month, but all year long! Stay tuned as the Green Mountain Digital Archive continues to grow and change – including a newly designed web portal to be launched later this year.

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