Historians look at illustrations from old books or brochures to see what people or places looked like. Before the invention of photography, artists had to draw, paint or engrave(carve or cut into a surface like wood or metal to make a stamp for printing) the pictures. Remember to think about the illustrations because you can't always believe what you see.

Abenaki People Making Maple Sugar, 1724

Joseph-Francois Lafitau wrote and illustrated a book called Customs of the American Indians. The artist was a priest from Europe. This picture shows how he saw Abenaki people gathering maple sap.

Vermont State Seal, 1779

Ira Allen designed the Great Seal of Vermont. Reuben Dean carved the image. What symbols do you see on the seal?

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Civil History of Vermont Illustration, 1842

This woodcut(an ink print that is made using a picture carved into a piece of wood) shows the Green Mountain Boys hanging a Yorker from the Catamount Tavern sign in 1775. The illustration is from Zadock Thompson's Civil History of Vermont, published in 1842.

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St. Albans Raid Illustration, 1864

This sketch shows the St. Albans Raid when Confederate soldiers robbed banks in Vermont during the Civil War. The artist was not at the bank but drew pictures based on stories of the Raid. This image was printed in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on November 12, 1864, almost a month after the event.

First State House, 1877

This image shows Vermont's first State House which was built in 1808. The building was torn down and replaced in 1833. This woodcut was printed in Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont in 1877.

Estey Organ Company, c. 1888

Can you tell this picture is also an advertisement? It shows people playing an Estey Organ, a musical instrument. Children are looking out the window at the Estey Organ factory buildings in Brattleboro, Vermont. 

Vermont Farm Machine Company, c. 1905

This primary source shows that the Vermont Farm Machine Company used images of Uncle Sam to sell their products. What can you learn about farming in 1905 from these pictures?

Burwell Merino Sheep, 1906

Vermonters raised Merino sheep for their wool. This picture shows that this sheep had a lot of fleece(the wool that covers the sheep). The words and picture together show where farmers could buy sheep in Bridport, Vermont.

The Story of Ethan Allen Illustration, 1906

This drawing comes from The Story of Ethan Allen, written by Percy Fitzhugh and illustrated by Nobel Ives in 1906. The picture shows Ethan Allen as a farmer, even though nobody knows exactly what Ethan Allen looked like.

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Unspoiled Vermont Brochure, 1939

The state government published this brochure to attract more tourists to Vermont. The words on the front say "Only A Step To Unspoiled Vermont - An Uncrowded Scenic Frontier For Healthful Country Life And Fun." Would this make you want to visit Vermont?

Ann Story Illustration, 1950

Artist Edward Sanborn made this scratchboard image to illustrate an article about Ann Story. This is not a primary source about Ann Story because it was not made during her life. But it shows what people in 1950 understood about Ann Story.

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Killington Postcard, 1989

A postcard of Killington, America's Six Mountain Ski Resort. The image highlights the ski trails and the snow. But it does not show hotels, houses or traffic.

Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.

Vermont Historical Society. "Illustrations." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed June 15, 2024.

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