Getting the Message Out (and In): How Government Communicates Information to the Public

October is American Archives Month, a time to highlight the importance of archives and the work of archivists. The theme for this October is communication, and the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA) has created an exhibit to show how the State and its constituents communicate with each other. Here is a sneak peek of the first part of the exhibit, how the government communicates information to the public. The examples shown here show how the State has used direct communication with Vermonters to convey important information, support recruitment efforts, educate about new laws and regulations, and encourage safe, legal practices.

WWI Recruitment Poster, 1917

When the United States entered the First World War in 1917, the call for new recruits went out on a national scale and many government agencies, including in Vermont, played their part to support this endeavor. This recruitment poster, issued by the Office of the Adjutant and Inspector General in 1917, calls upon Vermont men of military age to enlist in the First Vermont Infantry. It details the benefits of enlistment, in terms not only of pay, but also in serving with men from their own communities, and it provides those interested with the details they needed to apply. 

Nuclear Explosions: Facts, Questions & Answers, 1961

Act 224 of 1951 created the Civil Defense Division under the Vermont Department of Public Safety. Charged with preparing for and organizing emergency functions beyond military and federal responsibility, the Division coordinated civilian response and education during the height of the Cold War. In this Q&A document, the Division provides answers to the public’s questions about nuclear explosions and fallout, as well as how to outfit a shelter for protection and survival. Beyond the practicalities, the end of the document asks: “Afterward, then what?” and responds with an existential answer: “The whole purpose of survival is the hope of a future worth living.” (View the entire document)

Basic Workshop Points for Consideration of Neighborhood Leaders, 1960s

Organizing a civil defense effort was a hyper-local affair, with individual communities creating and maintaining their own plans and procedures for dealing with disaster. Vermont’s Civil Defense Division created this list of practical information for neighborhood leaders organizing efforts in their local communities. The information includes suggested shelter supplies, facts about fallout, basic first aid procedures, and tips for home fire prevention, as well as a rule-of-thumb for radiation decay. The Division was in operation from its creation in 1951 until 1985, when it was officially redesignated as the Division of Emergency Management. (View the entire document)

Vermont Guide to Hunting, 1968

This pamphlet was distributed by the Vermont Department of Fish and Game and contains hunting license information, indicators for Waterfowl Management Areas, and shows the public lands open to hunting. It also contains kill density maps for white-tailed deer and bear in 1967-1968. This guide also offers information on where to hunt in Vermont for small game, recommendations for how to plan one’s hunt, and provides an informative piece on the history of deer hunting in the state and how herd populations ebb and flow. (View the entire document)

Why Recycle? Poster, 1984

This poster from the Department of State Buildings cites the dwindling space in Vermont landfills, the increasing disposal costs, and the natural resources being used up by the “throwaway society.” It encourages residents to participate in the State of Vermont Recycling Program to help conserve resources, reduce the need for new landfills, and protect the environment. 

School Breakfast Program Pamphlet and Illustrations, undated

This pamphlet was distributed by the Vermont Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Programs to explain how the School Breakfast Program may be implemented within schools across the state. Information presented focuses on how the staff of the Child Nutrition Program can assist in the launch of breakfast programs, requirements of the program to receive funding, and how to engage the local community in supporting a breakfast program at their own schools. Included are original illustrations by Lyn Severance which are incorporated into the pamphlet’s design. (View the entire document)

You can view the entire exhibit in person at VSARA’s open house, Thursday, October 27 any time between 5-7 PM. See the exhibit, talk with VSARA staff, and get a behind-the-scenes tour. This is a FREE event! VSARA is located at 1078 US Route 2 in Middlesex; for any questions, please contact

2 thoughts on “Getting the Message Out (and In): How Government Communicates Information to the Public

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s