Nearly a quarter of Vermont families can trace their ancestry back to French Canadians who migrated to work in Vermont between the 1830s and 1930s. By the close of the Great Depression, close to 100,000 French Canadians had settled here. The lasting historical, cultural and economic impacts of these migrations are explored in the French Connections Conference at UVM on Monday, March 20th. We will be broadcasting the Conference live here.

We collected a comprehensive series of articles about Vermont’s French Connections as well as more recent Vermont immigration studies. The annotated bibliography includes a 1983 Center for Research on Vermont Research paper; The French in Vermont, Some Current Views by Peter Woolfson and Andre Senecal. 

Retired Vermont state archivist Gregory Sanford can often find parallels in present policy debates with previous events in Vermont. Writing in the Rutland Herald, he links present conversations about refugees to Vermont’s response to the refugee crisis of 1941/42. See his most recent article in VT Digger here


An example of the on-going nature of these conversations can be found in a 1937 study, conducted by Elin Anderson, assistant director of Vermont’s Eugenics Survey. Anderson examined the interactions of Burlington’s ethnic groups (Yankee, Irish, Jewish, Italian, African-Americans, Syrians, Greeks and French Canadians) publishing her findings in We Americans: A Study in Cleavage in an American City. The surveys can be found in the Vermont State Archives here (see PRA-0015, PRA-0016 and PRA-0017).


Ranking Vermont

A recent study placed Vermont as the 10th “best” state in the United States. The ranking combines education, health care, economy, crime and more. Vermont’s high ranking in safety contrasted with lower scores in economy and infrastructure. See the Burlington Free Press article for further analysis.

Vermont also ranks high nationally in government expenditures, according to a list compiled by economist Arthur Woolf -- number one in health care spending per capita, third in welfare spending and fourth in transportation spending.

Since Vermont is always showing up on various lists, the Center’s student researchers have put together a ranking of rankings --  a comprehensive list of more than 40 separate rankings of Vermont. See them all here in one place, organized by subject area.

Speaking of numbers, a  list of earthworm species found in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire was recently compiled by scientists at UVM and the Oliogochaetology Laboratory in Ontario, Canada. Scientists collected the data from 217 sites in all 40 counties of the three state region, finding 26 species representing 11 genera and three families (Acanthodrilidae, Lumbricidae and Megascolecidae).

Health Research
Vermont researcher Tridu Yunh explores the perceptions and realities of organ donation in a recent study. At the time of the study, 64 Vermonters were awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant. Vermont hovers at about the national average, with about 50 percent registered as deceased organ donors. State Representative Barbara Rachelson, working with the Governor's Advisory Council on Organ Donation and Transplant has proposed an opt-out rather than opt-in system which could substantially increase organs available for life-saving transplants.

When it comes to obesity, Vermont’s rates are near the lowest (43rd in one study) yet 25% of Vermonter’s qualify as obese. Should Vermont attempt to curb sugar intake by taxing soda and other sugary beverages? UVM graduate student Benjamin Crosby evaluated the media framing of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Vermont and the ways in which it affected citizens’ perceptions of the proposal.



Granite Workers and Farmers

Mining granite was one of the first industries in Vermont. An analysis of two studies on lung-cancer mortality among Vermont granite workers was conducted to better understand factors influencing exposure and response. Led by researchers Peter Callas and Pamela Vacek from UVM, study findings indicated the difficulty in using historical cohort data for analysis over time, particularly when exposure controls were improved and introduced ultimately complicating the results.

Vermont was also at the forefront of organic dairy farming. A study by by UVM researchers Olivia Saucier and Bob Parsons examines the birth of organic dairying in Vermont, the Northeast, and Midwest in the article “Refusing to ‘Push the Cows”.


New Books, Music, and Art
Syrian refugee Anwar Diab Agha moved to Vermont with some musical experience under his belt. A renowned composer, violin and oud player, Agha joined forces with local musicians completely new to Middle Eastern music. The culmination of this union is Agha’s latest album, “From Damascus to Burlington.” Through this album, Agha showcases the culture of Syria -- through the lens of Vermont folk musicians.



The Vermont Ghost Experience by Joseph Citro is the newest of the author’s books on paranormal activity in the Green Mountains. A compilation of classic ghost stories and modern-day spooky encounters, the collection also features Citro’s account of his own run-in with the supernatural. See the review in Seven Days.

Vermont author Katherine Paterson’s 1978 children’s book The Great Gilly Hopkins has been adapted into a movie by her son David, with her other son, John, co-producing. The book is noted for its bold depiction of the foster care system.


Richard A. Watts