Tag Archives: Events

The Library Celebrates President Patton’s Inauguration


After populating various campus buildings for the last few weeks, banners portraying these eight leading women from Middlebury’s history now stand in the Davis Library atrium in honor of President Laurie Patton’s inauguration, taking place this Sunday, October 11th. Additional information about each of these women can be found at go/specialblog or in person at the library.
May Belle Chellis

Mary Annette Anderson 

Charlotte May Johnson

Rhoda Mabel White

Eleanor Sybil Ross

Catherine Emma Robbins 

Viola Chittenden White 

Gertrude Cornish Milliken

Will you be the next Midd woman to make history? Picture yourself among these women by posting a selfie with the display (tag @middleburyspecialcollections) on instagram, or emailing specialcollections@middlebury.edu.

Catherine Emma Robbins, A Long Trail-blazer

In honor of the inauguration of Laurie L. Patton as the seventeenth president on Sunday, October 11, 2015, Special Collections & Archives will feature remarkable women from the College’s history in eight temporary exhibits spread across campus, now through October 5th. Catherine Emma Robbins can be found in the Virtue Field House and in Atwater Dining Hall.

Catherine Robbins Long Trail 2
The Three Musketeers on the Long Trail at Hazens Notch (left to right Catherine Robbins, Hilda Kurth, and Kathleen Norris)

Four years after graduating from Middlebury College in 1923, Cornwall, Vermont, native Catherine Emma Robbins became the first woman to hike the Long Trail in its entirety—without a male guide. She, along with her two companions—Hilda Kurth, who fled to the mountains to avoid a man who wanted to marry her, and Kathleen Norris, who, despite her father’s death, resolved to make the trip on her own—made headlines across the country as “The Three Musketeers.” Robbins’ motto for the trip, “The Musketeers must get there!,” embodies the camaraderie and drive that inspired her both as a hiker on the Long Trail and as a three-sport athlete and Theta Chi Epsilon sorority member at Middlebury.

After the hike, she continued teaching in Vermont high schools. She died at age 97 but not before her two granddaughters, Cara Clifford Nelson and Amity Clifford [Robichaud] reprised the hike in 1997, seventy years after Robbins blazed the trail, raising funds for the Green Mountain Club’s Long Trail Protection Campaign.


Catherine Robbins yearbook
Catherine Robbins’ Yearbook Photo 1923
The 1924 Long Trail Guidebook used by Robbins on her hike with her notes, provided by granddaughter Cara Nelson 
Catherine Robbins Clifford with granddaughters Amity Robichaud and Cara Nelson, (and a Middlebury poster in the background). Photo provided by Cara Nelson
Final page in Catherine Robbins’ Long Trail scrapbook; provided by Cara Nelson

Davis Library Fall atrium exhibit: Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000

Two new exhibits have cropped up in the library this week – “Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000” in the atrium and “Reading Nature” in the lower level Harman Reading Room. Both feature books that explore literary and scientific human interaction with the environment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.


The main floor exhibit “Old Friends and New” contains books and archives produced by authors deeply rooted in the natural world.

From Henry David Thoreau to John Freidin, this collection showcases the importance of nature as it exists outdoors as well as within the minds and pages of these authors.

John Muir and John Burroughs, 1909
RERobinson in woods
Artist, naturalist, and writer Rowland Evans Robinson (1833-1900)

















Title page, Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna, 2000
Title page, Julia Butterfly Hill’s The Legacy of Luna, 2000

Davis Library Fall lower level exhibit: Reading Nature

Two new exhibits have cropped up in the library this week – “Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000” in the atrium and “Reading Nature” in the lower level Harman Reading Room. Both feature books that explore literary and scientific human interaction with the environment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.

brown pear signs less text“Reading Nature” on the lower level of the library features books by scientists, botanists, naturalists, artists, and poets from the beginning of the 18th century to the 20th century. Each captures nature in a new way, redrawing the frames through which we understand the natural world.


Pages from Annie M Ward's "Notes on Botany," 1850-1860
Pages from Annie M Ward’s “Notes on Botany,” 1850-1860


"Cloud Crystals: A Snowflake Album Collected and Edited by a Lady" by Frances Chickering, 1864
“Cloud Crystals: A Snowflake Album Collected and Edited by a Lady” by Frances Chickering, 1864
Butterfly diagram from "The Aurelian" by Moses Harris, 1840
Butterfly diagram from “The Aurelian” by Moses Harris, 1840; Recent Gift of Julia Emerson, Class of 1965





Nobly Served Exhibit: Mary Annette Anderson

Mary Annette Anderson was the first woman of color to graduate from Middlebury College and the first woman of color to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She was born in Shoreham, Vermont to William Anderson, a former slave who traveled north after the Civil War and purchased his own farm, and Philomine Langlois of French Canadian and Indian heritage. Her formal education began in the Shoreham School, continued in the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in Massachusetts, and culminated at Middlebury College, where Anderson graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1899. As Valedictorian, she delivered a Commencement address
entitled “The Crown of Culture.” Additionally, she was the first woman to address the distinguished guests—the College president, trustees, alumni, and professors—at the “Corporation dinner,” and her graduating class sang a poem she penned at their Class Day celebration.

After graduation, she moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where she taught at Straight University for one year before joining the Howard University faculty in Washington, D.C. She taught English and Rhetoric there until 1907 when she married fellow faculty member, Walter Lucius Smith. Eventually she returned to Vermont with her husband, who completed postgraduate work at the University of Vermont. She died in 1922 at age forty-seven.

As a part of our exhibition, “Nobly Served: Leading Women of Middlebury College,” banners of Mary Anderson can be found in Axinn and Bicentennial Hall now through October 5th.

Nobly Served Exhibit: May Belle Chellis

In honor of President Laurie Patton’s inauguration, Special Collections and Archives will mount a campus-wide exhibition showcasing eight exceptional women throughout the College’s history. Our community is thrilled that President Patton has joined the ranks of these founders, marking a momentous step in Middlebury College history.


We first recognize May Belle Chellis, one of the first three women admitted to Middlebury College in 1883 and the first woman to graduate in 1886. Chellis’ presence and accomplishments forced the trustees to make accommodations – including a special curriculum, dedicated study and living space, and awards for scholarship – so that women could attend the College. “The faculty were not going to require us to do the regular work that the boys had,” Chellis reminisces, “but [May Bolton, Class of 1887, Louise “Daisy” Edgerton, Class of 1887, and I] insisted that we ought to do it just the same.” Chellis captured the highest rank in Greek at the end of her freshman year, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and delivered her essay “The Growth of Criticism” at the 1886 Commencement.

She went on to become Preceptress at both Black River Academy in Ludlow, Vermont and Gates Academy in Neigh, Nebraska, and Principal at St. Peter High School in Minnesota. She married Joseph Andrew Doremus in 1898 and raised five children.

Keep an eye out for our exhibition around campus and additional posts featuring more iconic Middlebury women!

“Joseph Battell: A Centennial Appreciation,” a talk by David Haward Bain, Monday, February 23rd

Joe Battell, ca. 1860 -HSM, Stewart Papers, vol. 9

February 23, 2015 is the centennial of Joseph Battell’s death. Bread Loaf land baron (in his day the largest private landowner in Vermont), environmentalist, crusading newspaperman, Middlebury College alum (Class of 1860), trustee, philanthropist, novelist.

David Haward Bain presents an illustrated “magic lantern” talk on Joseph Battell’s life and works.

When: February 23, 2015, 4:30pm

Where: Abernethy Reading Room, The Axinn Center at Starr Library, Middlebury College

Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, the Environmental Studies Program, Middlebury History Department, and the Stewart-Swift Research Center, Henry Sheldon Museum.

David Haward Bain has taught creative writing and literature at Middlebury College for 28 years, and has been affiliated with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 35 years since his first-book fellowship in 1980. His books include Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, Bitter Waters: America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead SeaThe Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, and Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines, as well as The College on the Hill: A Browser’s History for the Bicentennial of Middlebury College and Whose Woods These Are: A History of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 1926-1992.

Photo credit: Joseph Battell circa 1860. Courtesy of the Henry Sheldon Museum, Stewart-Swift Research Center

Winter Carnival Vintage Films Premiere and Hot Chocolate Bar, February 13

Recently rediscovered films in the College Archives from the 1940s will be shown for the first time in more than sixty years.

See Winter Carnival the way it was, before Gore-Tex and fiberglass: ski jumps on Chipman Hill, races at the Snow Bowl, aero-skijoring, and more.

When: Friday, February 13, 2015, 4:30 – 6pm

Where: McCullough Crossroads Cafe (The Juice Bar)