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Comment Archives: stories: Arts + Life: History

Re: “Final Tour of St. Joseph's Orphanage Spurs Haunting Memories

Does anyone know how I could find out if my great grandmother was there in 1880-1887? Is there a list of children anywhere? She and her sister aged out.

Posted by Mary Adams-Moe on 04/08/2018 at 6:46 PM

Re: “Recalling the Flu Pandemic of 1918

Ken, do you think we'll see anything like the Spanish flu again? Some of the prediction markets are suggesting it's pretty likely inasmuch as you trust those (see here: for instance)

Posted by Christian Williams on 03/01/2018 at 12:20 AM

Re: “Vermont's Tiny Historical Societies Have a Big Mission: Preserving the Past

Ever wonder why Burlington, the Queen City, largest metropolis in Vermont, has no historical museum? The main reason is the Fleming Museum at UVM. In the 1930s the Fleming director wanted to make the museum the premier Vermont history museum. He started an effort to collect relics from around the state. There was a flood of stuff brought to the museum, everything from hairs from John Brown's beard to nails from Ethan Allen's house. Hundreds of Vermont relics were dropped off, in fact more stuff came in then the museum knew what to do with. The museum opened an exhibit that went under the name of Colonial Vermont, Early New England, etc...displaying a 1/4 of the collection while most of it remained in storage. The physical collection had a related paper collection, Vermont archives-the Wilbur Collection, which eventually became today's Special Collections in the library. A decade after the push to collect Vermont historical objects the museum changed focus, needed space, and the director tried to unload the collection. He tried to give it to the Shelburne Museum but the SM declined. Some of the relics were literally thrown away but most of it went into storage where it remains today. The Fleming Museum was, for a while, considered the Burlington history museum, but the Fleming eventually decided it did not want to be that. The bulk of the collection remains in storage. Meanwhile, there has never again been a sustained effort to create an actual Burlington history museum.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Antiquarian on 01/13/2018 at 9:14 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

A poorly worded pamphlet, some out-of-context descriptions of fictional characters, serving on a board to promote "good people" moving to Vermont... Scant evidence to scuttle this accomplished woman off into the dustbin of history. Have you read "Little House on the Prarie" recently? Shockingly racist descriptions within led to some amazing conversations with my ten-year-old about how and why people held those views in the 1800's and early 1900's. We were able to talk about and contextualize these things because they were not "cleansed" from the book. Let's talk about the views this woman held or was perceived to have held... Let's investigate the true nature of the past and not symbolically "purify" the past, but rather understand it and see it for what it was so that its repugnant aspects not be repeated. Ms. Dow, acting as sole judge and jury, is practicing
a virtual form of eugenics on history, which, in my opinion, serves no one's best interest except, perhaps, her own.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by candace on 09/26/2017 at 5:03 PM

Re: “Following the Trail of Vermont's African American Heritage

"No other race on the face of this earth is encouraged to "celebrate diversity" in the way that European peoples are."

This contemporarily myopic statement reveals the heart of a self pitying people without contrition or genuine compassion.

People of color and native Americans were not encouraged to celebrate diversity at the time that Europeans deemed that America was ripe for the taking. No, they were forced to endure it, and many were exterminated in the process.

Consider it a blessing that you're not subjected to the diversity options your European indentified ancestors inflicted upon others.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Survive2Thrive on 09/02/2017 at 8:41 AM

Re: “Final Tour of St. Joseph's Orphanage Spurs Haunting Memories

I had no idea of the abuse at St Joseph's. How sad these innocent children had to go through that kind of treatment. I attended Catichism as a child and the nuns ,most of them, were very hateful to me. So I have no doubt this went on. There was a priest that took us into the cloke room and showed us huge pictures of Hell with huge fire pits and the devil. Threatned us if we didn't learn prayers I knew mine but couldn't recite them I was so terrified. It took me until I was an adult to realize it was one big guilt trip. I would love to hear more stories about life in the orphanage.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Barbara Woods Baylis on 06/30/2017 at 10:33 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Reminds me of the line from Monty Pythons' Life of Brian "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

To judge anyone that was born in 1879 by todays standards is quite ludicrous.

19 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mickey Nowak on 06/27/2017 at 1:44 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

The term Eugenics is much too broad, as a result it used to revise history and punish the reputations of dead people. Racehorses are the result of Eugenics as are the hundreds of dog breeds. The fact that the Nazis adopted it as rationale for racial profiling has denigrated those who believe only in genetics. In fact, Genetic Counseling is today a respected profession. Boy is that fascist.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Fred J Abrahams on 06/26/2017 at 11:05 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

It seems to me that some people who feel offended (and/or truly have been offended) want to delete the past. To me the present is way more important, you can't change the past. When you know better, you do better....for the most part. I certainly don't condone eugenics! It made mention of a Vermont " eugenics" pedigree program and Huntington's disease. My family has taken part in a pedigree program in regards to breast cancer. BRCA-( BReast CAncer gene) a test for hereditary cancer risk, as the mother of 3 daughters and 2 gdaughters I am grateful for this research. I don't believe eugenics was really a cause for DCF, the majority of her work supports otherwise. She certainly seems to have done more good than evil. It seems to me that "good breeding" may in the past have meant "well-mannered" or "educated" . I don't know that for a fact, only from context of some older fiction. Are authors to be judged on the values and beliefs of their characters? In her novel Bonfire one character described another as "half hound, half hunter, all Injun" a racial slur? Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce all used this word, what does this make them? As a child in school we were told to sit Indian style on the floor for story time, some would see this as derogatory, was our teacher racist? Children are now told to sit cross legged. So what makes a good author? I don't believe there is evidence enough to support this claim .

18 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Deb LaCasse on 06/26/2017 at 7:36 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

"And then there is the unfortunate coincidence of acronyms the one for Fisher's full name is the same DCF as the state child welfare agency the Department for Children and Families."

Top-notch investigative journalism there, Molly.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Christopher W. on 06/25/2017 at 10:30 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Pretty soon we will have completely sanitized our history which is dangerous!! I am not for tearing down monuments OR people who had commonly held beliefs of the times in which they lived! I coined this phrase years ago and still hold it to be true, "you can't judge history by today's standards."!!!!

16 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Barbara Mathieu Crawford on 06/25/2017 at 5:34 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

The context of time is important to consider--How far outside the norm was Fisher? Many of our Founding Fathers were slave owners, yet we honor their other work because of time. Princeton decided Woodrow Wilson was more problematic as his views on race were more outside mainstream beliefs. There is also a difference between honoring the person and using their works in today's classroom.

14 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Tom Darling on 06/24/2017 at 11:15 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Excellent, detailed, well-balanced reporting. Bravo! Instead of trying to outlaw and censor a writer based on a spurious charge, why not use the cited incidents of bigotry in her writing as a vehicle for having children consider the question themselves, learn about the historical horrors of the eugenics movement, think about the role of literature in cultivating values, develop critical thinking? This knee jerk censor and outlaw reaction from the left is every bit as short-sighted and dangerous as that from the right.

17 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by WdIbsw? on 06/24/2017 at 10:54 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Sounds like Dow is showing some form of Jealousy???This world have become a bunch of crybabies aka snowflakes..What's next burning books, banning them..hanging the authors?? Political correctness is taking over and it needs to STOP..From all that I have read about Dorothy Canfield Fisher she did a lot of some of her ideas may not have been the best, but show me one famous author who has been perfect..I can name one who's book was full of lies and wanted to cleanse the world of white people..he was the 44th president!!!!

9 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Donna Boutin on 06/23/2017 at 8:46 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

I think it hugely important that we identify, judge and punish every dead person for everything they ever did, say and thought, while alive, that was wrong or inappropriate; that doesnt abide and agree with the standards of todays judgmental, highly victimized, aggrieved population. If we properly muster the time and resources, Im certain we can nail just about every person who ever walked the earth. And the beauty of this program: None of them can defend or respond, explain or atone. And those who today perform the exposs and make the accusations, oh, they will sleep so well, knowing that they are holy, perfect and right.

29 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by TinVT on 06/23/2017 at 12:28 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Books are full of ideas we may not agree with. Librarians should be the first to say, "Open your mind, open a book." We chose to honor D.C.F. because of her writing and the stories she told, not because we embrace every idea or attitude she wrote about or because we think she led a life that was worthy of this award. If we look into the life of every writer, I am not sure who would be worthy of ANY honor.

30 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kimberly A. Farrar on 06/23/2017 at 5:48 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement…

"Seasoned Timber", by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

According to the forward in this book, at least one author took issue with linking Dorothy Canfield Fisher to eugenics and racism.

Maybe there's a counterargument to be made here?

13 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by William McKern on 06/22/2017 at 10:46 PM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

Most of the evidence presented in this article purporting to show Canfield's eugenicism actually portray the racism of some of her characters.

With all due respect, such instances prove nothing at all. If an author portrays an overt bigot in a work of fiction, readers cannot infer that the character's views are those of the author. Were it otherwise, in any play or story which pits characters in conflict, we would have assume that the author's personality is split between the conflicting sides.

Works of fiction often include nasty characters saying (and doing) awful things, precisely because the author wants to show the reader how wrong/foolish such words/behavior really are.

Thus, there is NO reasonable comparison between Jefferson, who really DID own slaves and Canfield Fisher, who puts racist sentiments in the mouth of some of her characters.

As Sean Patrick, Burke's comment and the article both point out, reviewing historical characters by modern standards raises its own very real set of contentious issues. But if we decide to go down that path, let's do so on the basis of actual facts, rather than motives imputed from voices in works of fiction other than the author's.

32 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by JohnGreenberg on 06/22/2017 at 11:05 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

People are not perfect. Life itself is, in my opinion, the time to learn to be a better person. To live with the attitude of bias and bigotry is to deny oneself information that is nescessary for emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. All attitudes and information are relevant. To hear only one side of a story has a tendency to skew our outlook, whether that outlook is conservative, progressive, liberal, religious, socioeconomic, ethnic, or anyone of hundreds of little boxes that we can catagorize it within. I think the important thing is to investigate what is important to you personally and not just take it at someone else's word. You will undoubtedly find that our "heros" have feet of clay, just like the rest of us. But that does not necessarily negate their worth as a "hero", it just makes them human. It's up to you to chose what is most important to you.

19 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Cyndy Hutchins on 06/22/2017 at 9:26 AM

Re: “Vermont Considers Dumping Dorothy Canfield Fisher Over Ties to Eugenics Movement

In his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln came out against "the social and political equality of the white and black races," as well as blacks being granted the right to vote, to serve in a jury, or marry a white person. Shall we remove his bust from the State House?

34 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Sean-Patrick Burke on 06/21/2017 at 2:28 PM

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