How do we know what happened in Vermont in the 1820s?
Museums and libraries help preserve(keep something in its original or existing state) objects to learn more about the past. The 1820s were very different than how we live today. Historians rely on primary sources(sources from when a historical event happened) to understand what life was like 200 years ago. The Vermont Historical Society collects these sources to tell the story of Vermont over time.
One way we can learn about life in Vermont in the 1820s is through artifacts(an object made or used by a person in the past). People in the past might not have thought of these items as important. But artifacts show how people lived and used tools in the past. One type of artifact that historians use is a sampler(a stitched work made by a schoolgirl in the 1800s). Schoolgirls(girls attending elementary school) in the 1800s created these artifacts. Samplers can tell historians a lot about what life was like for children in the 1820s.
Research(careful study and investigation for the purpose of discovering and explaining new knowledge) libraries are also useful tools for historians. These libraries give special care to rare( not occurring very often) books from the past. But did you know libraries preserve more than books? Research libraries keep newspapers, letters, postcards, photographs, and pictures from the past. In the 1820s, photography did not exist. Instead, historians use different letters, drawings, and posters, to learn about what something looked like. Research librarians call these posters broadsides(a flat printed source from the past, typically a poster). Historians know that different people make primary sources. They look at a lot of primary sources to get a full understanding of what life was like in the past.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Imagine a historian 200 years from now wants to know more about your life in the 2020s. What kinds of sources would they look at?
The Vermont Historical Society keeps both artifacts and written records. Why is it important for historians to look at different types of sources?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Explore a timeline of events in American History in the 1820s
Explore the Broadside collection at the Leahy Library
Watch the Vermont History Center with This Place in History
Read more about the ripple effects of history in History Roots
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "1820s-The Evidence." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed September 28, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/learning-about-the-1820s