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Bound for Glory

photo by Sabin Gratz

Samuel B. Nichols, proprietor of 19th-century Burlington's Wholesale Paper Warehouse, boasted that his blank books were “made from the best of paper and bound in the most thorough manner.” True enough, at least one of his products has stood the test of time as the membership book for the University of Vermont's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The volume, with its honor roll of names spanning 157 years and some of UVM's finest students, is still in use. The signatures within offer up an anecdotal history of penmanship, from the artful scrolls of another age to contemporary scrawls. In the early years, a few names stand out - 1875, Lida H. Mason and Ellen E. Hamilton, the first women in the nation admitted to Phi Beta Kappa; and two years later, another pioneer, George Washington Henderson, put his name in the book as the country's first African American to join the society. Turn the page, there's young John Dewey in 1879. Continue on and find old friends, classmates: Heath Riggs, 1940; Gloria Oling Frank, 1942; Henry Wasserman, 1947; Dorothy Myer, 1955; Betty Louise Wilder, 1960; Martin Wolf, 1965; E. Annie Proulx, 1969; Richard Sands, 1974; Stephen McCauley, 1978; Luke Albee, 1981; Laura Brusetti, 1986; Grant Fondo, 1990; Trond Nystad, 1993; Mary Vadnais, 1998; Taylor Spear, 2003; to name just a few. Future scholars can rest assured, with 60-some blank pages remaining, there's plenty of space to write your own names into UVM history and Mr. Nichols' sturdy book.