Folklorists Honored at Hildene
On July 26, a celebratory luncheon at Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, was held to honor Vermont folklorists Susanne Rappaport and Jane Beck. The Award, given annually to Vermonters who have made extraordinary contributions in the areas of land conservation and/or historic preservation, was a posthumous recognition for Rappaport.
The keynote address was delivered by longtime Vermont Life editor and VPR commentator Tom Slayton, who pointed out, “The stories that Jane and Susanne have told and saved are not just stories about the people and the land but rather a story about how those two elements interacted: how the people shaped the land and how the land shaped the people.” Molly Biggs Celani, president of the Slate Valley Museum’s Board of Trustees, said, “Susanne taught us to see that the history of a place is about the history of the people of that place.” Gregory Sharrow, co-director of the Vermont Folklife Center added, “Thanks to Jane, many things that would have remained unknown are known, and many elements of our history that were hidden are revealed.”
The Award includes a $10,000 prize which is given to a non-profit project in Vermont of the honorees’ choosing; honoree Jane Beck announced that this year’s prize would be used for a much-needed upgrade for a database of photos, audio excerpts and detailed descriptions from the Pawlet community collected over more than three decades by Susanne Rappaport and her photographer husband, Neil. The event concluded at the Hildene Award trailhead with the unveiling of trail cairn markers for Beck and Rappaport by Hildene president, Seth Bongartz.