by Steve Williams
In the first three years after the founding of the PHS in 1973, more than 50 community residents made gifts to the Society to establish a collection of items related to the history of Pawlet, West Pawlet, and North Pawlet. These included books, maps, postcards, photos, periodicals, letters, diaries, genealogies, and clothing. The donors included, among others, Dorothy Offensend (first president and later curator/historian), Dr. Stanley Norton, Edward Clark, Harold Leach, Ruth Hulett, and Maude Ripley. From the inception, Dorothy established a card catalog which contained a record of every item given to the collection.
Since the mid-1970s, many more items have been given to the Society. The exact number will not be known until cataloging is complete, but we estimate between three and four thousand. Many of these items are already stored in proper archival boxes, and work is progressing on recording and storing the remaining items.
Two important additions have been the glass plate negatives of local photographers Nellie Bushee and Archie Burdick who photographed Pawlet and West Pawlet in the 1880s through 1920s. These have recently been digitized for easy recovery and viewing. Our photo collection also includes a significant number of photo postcards printed by Ella Clark, another early Pawlet photographer
An important element of the collection is its recording on the museum-oriented software “Past Perfect,” which allows each article to be stored according to its category, donor, age, accession number, storage location and other pertinent data, thus facilitating ready access both to the article itself, but also to its related descriptive information.
At the time of writing (June 2016) the collection is housed in the North Pawlet School (100 yards north of the junction of the North Pawlet Road and Vermont Route 30). However, in the summer of 2017 it will be moved partially or totally to the Chriss Monroe Chapel in the Pawlet Cemetery.