Learning about the 1910s
How do we know what happened in Vermont 100 years ago?
Historians look at photographs and post cards from 100 years ago to see what Vermont looked like. Historians examine census records to know how many people lived in Vermont. And historians read what people wrote to learn about life in the past.
In 1910, a famous photographer named Lewis Hine took a photograph of Albert Lavallee. Albert was a boy who lived in Winooski. He had just started working at the American Woolen Mill. Lewis Hine took his photograph to show that children should not work in factories.
Historians can find Albert Lavallee in census records. Census records list all the people who lived in a place. The 1910 census tells the names and ages of Albert’s parents, brothers and sisters. The census also lists where people were born and where they worked. Historians can tell that Albert’s parents came to Vermont from Canada.
Some Vermonters kept diaries(journals, a record of what happened every day) that tell what they did and thought. In 1911, Alice Bushnell from Strafford, Vermont, wrote in her diary every day. She was 7 years old and lived on a farm with her family. Historians read diaries like this to learn about children in Vermont 100 years ago.
It was 8 degrees below zero on January 31, 1911. Alice did not go to school that day. She wrote “I staid(stayed, but Alice spelled it wrong) at home. Papa and Mama thought it was too cold for me to go.”
On August 7, 1911, Alice tried something new. In her diary, she wrote, “I went swimming. It is the first time I ever did. I had lots of fun.”
Alice liked school most of the time. But on Friday, December 8, Alice wrote “I went to school as usual. I have no history now. I am very glad.” Alice did not like to study history. But historians can use her diary to learn about being a kid in Vermont over 100 years ago.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Write a diary entry about what you did today. What could a historian learn about you by reading your diary entry?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Read the article The Bitter Cry of the Children from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Try the activity Child Labor in Vermont
Read the true story of Addie Card whose photograph inspired the book Counting on Grace
See other Lewis Hine photographs at the Library of Congress
Borrow the book A Little Girl's Diary from the Vermont Historical Society Lending Library
Listen to the program Early Aviation, 1910 from Green Mountain Chronicles
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "Learning about the 1910s." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/learning-about-the-1910s