July 23rd, 2019

Senate Report: Vermont County Documentary Series

The recent completion of the history documentary “Life in Bennington County” marks the completion of an 8-year project to capture and share the memories and stories of each of Vermont’s 14 counties. The county documentary series was produced through collaboration between Bill Doyle, a professor at Johnson State College, his students, and professional videographer Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions, LLC.

As a result of the collaboration, 14 documentaries were produced that reflect the unique aspects of life in each county. For each documentary, students from Doyle’s Vermont History and Government class worked with Franke to interview local residents to capture their memories of life in the first half of the 20th century. Then Franke blended historical images from local individuals and historical societies to create an engaging film that provides insight into what life was life during the first half of the 20th century.

Doyle commented,” This is a great collection of interviews and stories. This remarkable documentary series provides a unique glimpse into life throughout Vermont.”

Johnson State College Academic Dean, Dan Regain said, “‘The Life in Series’ is part of the college’s overall commitment to disseminating knowledge about our local region. We encourage JSC students to develop an appreciation of the local community.”

At least 100 students have collaborated on these projects throughout the 8 years by conducting the interviews and contributing to the editing review sessions. Michael Watkins, a student at JSC, commented, “I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see the development of this film. I think it has a great cultural significance to Vermont in general and the people in each county. I’m glad that copies of each film go to the local schools and libraries around the state.

Johnson State College has sent out over 1,000 free DVD’s to each of the respective local schools, libraries and historical societies. Many of the programs have aired on Vermont Public Television and on local cable access stations. Videographer and editor Franke said, “This is a great collaboration between Johnson students, local residents, and historical societies to archive and share oral histories that just can’t be found in a book.”

“Life in Chittenden County” was recognized in 2009 with the Hathaway Award. The award was presented by the Vermont Historical Society and recognized Doyle and Franke with an outstanding contribution to Vermont History.

Senator Bill Doyle serves on the Senate Education Committee and Senate Economic Affairs Committee. He teaches government history at Johnson State College. He can be reached at 186 Murray Road, Montpelier, VT 05602; e-mail wdoyle@leg.state.vt.us; or call 223-2851.

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