Show at Bennington Museum Explores Print Culture in Early Vermont
Now on view at the Bennington Museum, ‘Village Enlightenment: Print Culture in Rural Vermont, 1810-1860,’ brings to light the widespread and growing interest in rural New England for printed matter that could spread knowledge during the development of the American Republic. Many assume that rural Vermont was a relatively isolated during this period – a cultural backwater. However, during the late 18th-century and well into the 19th century, Vermont was a boom state, going from an almost unpopulated frontier to being more populous than neighboring New Hampshire. It had nearly half the population of neighboring Massachusetts, the most populous state in New England. Cosmopolitan centers popped up all over the state, which was home to many intellectuals, entrepreneurs and craftsmen inspired by the same ideals as Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe. There was a widespread belief that through rationalism, scientific reasoning and exploration – and most importantly in this context, the distribution of that knowledge via printed matter – that humans could harness the world they lived in and turn it to their benefit.
This small but detailed exhibit, running through September 15, features engravings, maps and books published and/or illustrated by the Greenbush Group, a small circle of
artisans, entrepreneurs and printmakers/publishers based out of Windsor County,
Vermont, during the first half of the 19th century. Led by James Wilson, the first globe maker in America, and Isaac Eddy, who established a print shop in the tiny hamlet of Greenbush around 1810, the group had among its members Ebenezer Hutchinson, Moody Morse Peabody, Lewis Robinson and George White. Together this small group of artisan-
entrepreneurs and their associates provided the printed materials that served the widespread and growing interest amongst their neighbors in rural New England.
The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street/Route 9 in Bennington,. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the month of October, but will be closed on Thursday, July 4). Visit benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more.