Getting the Message Out (and In): How the State Promotes Itself Externally 

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. This is the last in our blog post series (read the first post and the second post), giving a sneak peek of the third part of the exhibit, how the state promotes itself outside of Vermont. The examples shown here discuss how Vermont has chosen to promote and portray itself externally, which has shaped the associations non-Vermonters hold about the state. 

Vermont Life magazine was published for 72 years, from 1946 to 2018, with the purpose of marketing Vermont to out-of-staters. The magazine offered readers bright, colorful photos of Vermont’s natural beauty and historical charms, while articles commonly celebrated Vermont’s most popular attractions: fall foliage, skiing, agriculture, and traditional Yankee customs and crafts. Inspired by similar magazines published by other states, such as Arizona Highways, the magazine helped to define the character of Vermont’s tourism industry in the years following World War II. While later issues of Vermont Life did not outwardly portray the magazine as a publication of the state government, earlier issues made that fact more obvious and often included introductory letters from the governor.  (View the entire issue, courtesy of Middlebury College)

Walter Hand Jr. newspaper clipping, Vermont Life scrapbook, date unknown 

Vermont Life contributors, like Walter Hand Jr., who served as editor from 1950-1975, and Vrest Orton (who would also co-found the popular Vermont Country Store and catalog) bolstered tourism and popularized a particular concept of Vermont, by introducing readers to Vermont’s picturesque covered bridges and white clapboard churches, as well as its long-maintained traditions, such as maple sugaring and annual town meetings.   

Vermont’s Treasury of Libraries: A Stack of Surprises in Book Places, Vermont Life, Annual Guide Summer/Autumn 1977   

As a publication of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, Vermont Life provided the opportunity for different branches of state government to have their work featured in a widely-read publication. This article, which reports on the services not only of Vermont’s local public libraries, but also that of the Vermont Department of Libraries, was co-written by Patricia W. Belding, who served as a librarian at the Aldrich Library in Barre, Vermont from 1967 to 1993.  (View the entire article)


Vermont: Maple Sugar and Maple Syrup, 1936 

“Vermont: Maple Sugar and Maple Syrup” was published by the Vermont Department of Agriculture as a primer on all things maple, discussing the history of maple sugar and syrup in Vermont, as well as the industry that had grown around them up to 1936. Not just informational, the booklet also offers practical tips, including pointers on Vermont’s grading system for maple products. Recipes are also included in the booklet, with suggestions ranging from baked beans to maple candies, in order to show the possible culinary applications of Vermont maple products. (View the entire document).


Vermont Maple Queen with Governor Johnson, 1957 

Brenda Naatz from St. Johnsbury was selected as the second Maple Queen during a 1957 competition sponsored by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association. The Maple Queen would make appearances at festivals and for photo opportunities with state leaders to represent the industry. There were several variations of produce royalty sponsored by agricultural organizations; at one time Vermont had a Dairy Queen, Honey Queen, Potato Queen, and Poultry Queen.   

Vermont Photo Guide Pamphlet, undated 

This pamphlet was distributed by the Vermont Development Department and highlights the “25 Top Photo Locations” across the state. The Vermont Development Department was tasked with, among other duties, the promotion of the state. Pamphlets such as these may have been distributed not only across the state at information booths staffed during summer tourist months but also at tourism information centers in several other states encouraging visitors to come to Vermont.  (View the entire document)


“Color Vermont: A Souvenir Coloring Book of Vermont,” 1972 

The Vermont State Chamber of Commerce published this promotional coloring book in 1972. The pages contain scenes of Vermont over time including Samuel de Champlain, the Green Mountain Boys, and the Statehouse. Other pages portray a variety of activities that draw tourists to Vermont each year, as well as some of the well-known icons of the state, such as maple sugaring, dairy cows, and covered bridges. (View more coloring pages)


Vermont Tourism Ad, Better Homes & Gardens magazine, May 1995 

This advertisement in Better Homes and Gardens’ May 1995 issue supplement paints Vermont as an idyllic retreat not far away from the hustle and bustle of the Northeast’s metropolitan areas. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, as well as its predecessors, have cast the allure of Vermont as a vacation destination far and wide. In the summer 1995 season alone, print ads were placed in such publications as Better Homes & Gardens, Country Home, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and other regional newspapers. Video slots were seen during commercial breaks of prominent shows such as Headline News, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and on regional news stations.   

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  

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