Vermont Humanities
Bill Mares and friend with beer

From Homebrew to the House of Fermentology

Bill Mares began making his own beer 45 years ago, when homebrewing was illegal and there were no microbreweries in America. Today there are over 7,000 such breweries nationwide, and Vermont has the highest percentage of breweries per capita in the country. In this presentation, Mares will discuss the American beer revolution, Vermont’s small but significant contribution, and his co-ownership of a brewery.

Painting of Lucy Terry Prince

Bearing Witness and the Endurance of Voice

Lucy Terry Prince was born in Africa, where she was kidnapped by slave traders and transported to Rhode Island. While still enslaved in 1746, she wrote “Bars Fight,” the oldest known poem by an African American. Prince later regained her freedom and moved to Vermont with her husband. Shanta Lee Gander illustrates Prince’s importance as a poet and orator, and as one unafraid to fight for her rights within the landscape of early Vermont, New England, and America.

Image of painting of black soldier on horseback.

The Black Presence at the Battle of Bennington

It may come as a surprise that one of the 30 men killed at the Battle of Bennington was black. This illustrated lecture tells the story of Sipp Ives and other black patriots who played a role in the fighting and its aftermath.

Image of woman

Vermont Women and the Civil War

With nearly 35,000 of Vermont’s able-bodied men at war, the monumental task of keeping more than 30,000 farms in operation became very much a female enterprise during the Civil War.

Image of Vermont field in winter

1800 and Froze to Death: The Cold Year of 1816

1816 has long been known as the year without summer. This talk includes scores of anecdotes about the dark year of failed crops, scarce food, and religious revival.

Image of Vermont forest in winter

Murder in the Vermont Woods: A Story About Race, Class, and Gender in the 19th Century

Tells the story of an Indigenous man from southern New England who came to central Vermont during the late 19th century and was the victim of a murder.

Red Scare in the Green Mountains: Vermont in the McCarthy Era

Rick Winston explores some forgotten history as we see how a small, rural “rock-ribbed Republican” state with a historically libertarian streak handled the hysteria of the time.

Image of Morgan Horse

Justin Morgan’s Horse: Making an American Myth

All Morgan horses today trace their lineage back to a single horse: a mystery stallion named Figure, owned by singing teacher Justin Morgan in the late 18th century.

Image of Jesse

Finding Jesse: “A Fugitive from Slavery in Vermont”

This illustrated talk brings the narrative of one slave out of anonymity and explores his life and pursuit of freedom. It traces Jesse’s life from enslavement in North Carolina to freedom in Vermont.