On September 16, 2020

Vermont’s bicycling history explored in Poultney

Sunday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.—POULTNEY— The Poultney Historical Society will team up with Slate Valley Trails to host a free lecture titled “Of Wheelmen, the New Woman, and Good Roads: Bicycling in Vermont, 1880-1920” on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. on the lawn in front of the East Poultney School house.

Esteemed historian and UVM professor Luis Vivanco will explore the fascinating early history of the bicycle in Vermont, a new invention that generated widespread curiosity when it arrived here in the 1880s. During the 1890s, enthusiasm exploded statewide as bicycles became safer, women took to the wheel, roads improved, and retailers developed novel advertising techniques to draw in buyers.

By 1920, popular interest in bicycles had waned, but it had not just been a fad: the bicycle was tied to important changes in industrial production, consumerism, new road policies and regulations, gender relations, and new cultural ideas about auto-mobility and effortless speed.

Vivanco is a professor of anthropology and co-director of the Humanities Center at the University of Vermont. He has published extensive scholarship on bicycle culture, politics, and history. Vivanco’s lecture draws from archival research he began for his book “Reconsidering the Bicycle: An Anthropological Perspective on a New (Old) Thing” (Routledge, 2013).

“The Historical Society is excited to work with Slate Valley Trails as co-sponsors of this program. This kind of community partnership is what we’d love to do more often,” said the Society’s president Ina Smith Johnson.

The lecture will be easily accessible at PoultneyHistoricalSociety.org. Additional funding for the lecture provided by the Vermont Humanities Council.

For now, the Historical Society’s buildings will not open in September, but genealogical or research appointments can be scheduled by calling 802-287-5252.  Important building renovation projects are being completed. Small groups work this fall on the East Poultney Cemetery restoration project and on organizing the Green Mountain College archives.

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