Trio of Researchers Mine Treasures Left by Vermont Historian
Effort results in a new book of works by the late Sam Hand
- By Richard Watts
There might be a 50-year gap in their ages but watching this unlikely team at work is to marvel at the impact of the student-mentor model – a long tradition at UVM.
Nick Muller is a retired historian, Molly Jennings is a graduating English major and Louis Augeri is a first year history/political science student. Together the three have spent a large part of the semester pulling together an edited volume by the Dean of Vermont historians, UVM Faculty Emeritus Samuel B. Hand.
The team meets regularly in a section of the Bailey-Howe library which houses one of the largest collection of Vermont materials in the world. They order up “boxes” and “hanging folders” – materials put together by library archivists – searching for the details and the nuances of Sam Hand’s journey through Vermont history. One day they might find a deeply personal letter written to Hand by a former student, another day it might be a pin from an event he attended.
“It’s like searching for buried treasure,” Augeri says, delighted with the new discoveries that they find in the boxes. And they marvel at the reach and impact of Sam Hand, who led and wrote about hundreds of Vermont research projects. Nick Muller, a former colleague of Sam’s has been a great guide the students say.
“Nick is super delightful to work with,” Jennings says. “He is knowledgeable and tells amazing stories.” Jennings and Augeri have also bonded over the project putting their different knowledge sets to work: Augeri as an avid historian and political science buff and Jennings as a writer and student of literature.
The two have read through Sam’s work, helped select the articles to appear in the bound volume and gathered other bits and pieces from Sam’s past, including some of the photos that will be featured in the book – Sam as a pipe-smoking, tweed-wearing, slightly bushy-haired professor, for example.
In a companion project, senior film studies major Cole Davidson produced a video telling the story of their project that show-cases the dynamics well – the many hours the three have spent sitting in the basement of the library re-living stories of Sam Hand, talking, investigating and laughing.
In addition to the edited volume, the trio produced a column about their work for the Burlington Free Press and will be presenting at student research day, April 27.
ABOUT THE BOOK: GREEN MOUNTAIN SCHOLAR: SAMUEL B. HAND
As a tribute to Dr. Samuel B. Hand, the Center for Research on Vermont will publish Green Mountain Scholar: Samuel B. Hand, Dean of Vermont Historians to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Dr. Hand’s first teaching a course on Vermont history at the University of Vermont. The book will include more than thirty articles written by Sam and his colleagues on important Vermont topics. The book has a publication date of October 2017.