What did the animals of Vermont contribute to our Green Mountain State? How did they add to our spirit of independence? What changes did they make on our landscape, our economy, and our culture – and how did we change them?
In our keynote, Rebecca Woods will present a new approach to researching and writing history by focusing on animals. As a case study, she will discuss her research in tracking the exportation of merino sheep from Vermont to Australia during the 19th century, illustrating the global reach of Vermont’s agricultural past.
In the afternoon, Erica Donnis will share the history of Shelburne and Billings Farms as “model” farms, which sought to improve animal breeding in Vermont, and Kirk Webster will highlight the surprisingly rich and varied history of beekeeping in Vermont.
All activities will take place at the Pavilion Building, 109 State Street, Montpelier.
8:30 – Breakfast & Registration
9:30 – Business Meeting
11:00 – Keynote with Rebecca Woods
Rebecca Woods is an environmental historian and an historian of science. She received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013, and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and a Lecturer in History at Columbia University. Her forthcoming book, The Herds Shot Round the World: Native Breeds and the British Empire, 1800-1900, explores the formation, circulation, and significance of so-called native British breeds of sheep and cattle in the colonies.
12:00 – Lunch
1:30 – "Model Farms in Vermont"
Erica Donnis is a graduate of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, and works as an independent historian and museum consultant. Her 2010 book The History of Shelburne Farms: A Changing Landscape, An Evolving Vision, commissioned by Shelburne Farms, won the 2011 Historic New England Book Prize.
2:30 - "Beekeeping in Vermont"
Kirk Webster is a beekeeper from New Haven who moved to Vermont in the 1970s and studied beekeeping with Charles Mraz of Middlebury. He has written on beekeeping history as well as new methods in natural beekeeping based on traditional practices.