1980s - The People
Who was a Vermonter in the 1980s?
The United States counts the number of people living in the country every 10 years. This is called the census. In 1980, there were 511,546(five hundred eleven thousand, five hundred and forty-six) people living in Vermont. The census shows that many people moved to Vermont in the 1970s. But Vermont was still a small state. Only Wyoming and Alaska had fewer people.
Burlington was the biggest city in Vermont. Burlington was almost twice as big as Rutland, the next biggest city. Use the census records to find out how many people lived in your town in 1980.
In 1980, most Vermonters were still born in Vermont. But many of the new Vermonters came from other states. A small number of Vermonters were born in other countries like Canada and Germany.
Some new Vermonters came to work at companies like IBM. Others came to Vermont for vacation or to ski. They liked Vermont and decided to move here. In the 1970s, some people came to Vermont to live on communes. These were places where groups of people lived together, often on old farms. Many of these people stayed in Vermont in the 1980s.
Families of others Vermonters had lived here for many generations. In the 1980s, Abenaki people wanted the government to recognize their history and their rights. Chief Homer St. Francis believed in the right of Abenaki people to fish in Vermont without a fishing license. The Vermont government did not always agree. By 2012, four bands of Abenaki have been officially recognized by the Vermont state government.
Madeleine Kunin was a famous Vermonter in the 1980s. She was born in Switzerland. Her family came to the United States when she was a child. She moved to Vermont to work at the Burlington Free Press. In 1984, Madeleine Kunin was elected as Vermont’s first female governor. During her three terms, she helped make education in Vermont better.
Two other famous Vermonters in the 1980s were Ben & Jerry. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were both born in New York. They came to Vermont in 1978 to make and sell ice cream. The first “Ben & Jerry’s” shop was in an old gas station in Burlington. Their ice cream became famous. And their company became known for using money to help the environment and encourage peace.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Can you be called a Vermonter if you were born somewhere else? Why or why not?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Explore Vermont Town Census Records
Explore the websites of Abenaki tribes in Vermont and Canada
Visit the online exhibit When Women Lead: Governor Madeleine Kunin of Vermont
Read the article Your State House: A Guide To the Legislative Process by Madeleine Kunin from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "1980s - The People." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed October 1, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/vermonters-in-the-1980s