Allen F. Davis Papers

Hardwick Historical Society
47 Depot Street, PO Box 177
Hardwick, Vt. 05843

Collection Title: Allen F. Davis Papers
Collection Dates: 1850-1970s; bulk 1898-1960s
Extent: 1 box; .75 cubic feet
Name of Creator: Allen Freeman Davis, 1931‐

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Abstract: The Davis Papers contains a variety of ephemera from the Hardwick community. The material dates from the late 19th century through the middle of the 20th century. The collection also includes a substantial number of inventories from his father’s store.

Preferred citation:Allen F. Davis Papers. Hardwick Historical Society, Hardwick, Vt. 05843

Biography: Allen Freeman Davis was an American history professor and writer. He was born in Hardwick, Vt., January 9, 1931, the son of Harold Freeman (1894-1977) and Bernice Susan (Allen) Davis (1896-1951). His parents owned and ran the general store started by C.F. Davis, Harold’s father.

Davis received an AB from Dartmouth College in 1953, an MA from the University of Rochester in 1954. He served in the U.S. Army, 1954-1956, then married Roberta Hazel Green in 1956, with whom he had two sons. The marriage ended in divorce some years later. He completed a Ph.D. at the University Wisconsin in 1959.

He started his academic career as an Instructor of History at Wayne State University, Detroit, 1959-1960. He became an Assistant Professor of History at the University Missouri, Columbia, 1960-1963 and Associate Professor, 1963-1968. He was Professor of History at Temple University, Philadelphia, 1968-1999, and Professor Emeritus, since 1999. He was Visiting Professor of History at University Texas, Austin, 1983, University Amsterdam, 1986-1987. He served as the John Adams Chair and Director of the Center for Public History, 1987-1999.

He was the recipient the following rewards and honors: a Danforth Graduate fellowship, 1953-1959, an American Philosophical Society grant, 1962, ’65, a Friends of Literature award, 1970, an American Council Learned Societies senior fellowship, 1971-1972, the Christopher award, 1974; a National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship, 1975-1976, a Fulbright fellowship, 1986-1987, and the Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize, 1996. Davis is a former President of the American Studies Association (1989-1990). He created the Allen Davis Endowed Fellowship in Public History at Temple University.

In his own words: “I grew up during Depression and War and that had a great impact on my generation. I lived in a large Victorian house at South Main and Summer Streets across from the cemetery and in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain. It was my only house until I went to college. My father owned a general store on South Main Street at the top of Plank Hill. My grandfather, Charles F. Davis (1864-1951), purchased the store in 1902. My father graduated from Hardwick Academy in 1914. My mother graduated from Craftsbury Academy in 1913 and the University of Vermont in 1917. She taught Latin and English at Hardwick Academy from 1918 to 1924. She also served on the Hardwick School Board for nearly thirty years. I had two sisters, Florence (1926-2020) and Marjorie (1934-1965). Like many of my friends in Hardwick my family had a grandmother living with us. In my case she was my mother’s mother, Lola Wylie Allen (1858-1940), and she died when I was nine. My grandfather and his second wife, Sarah Holton Davis (1867-1957), lived only a few houses away.

“I entered first grade in 1937 (there was no kindergarten in Hardwick) and for twelve years I went to school in the same building. We all walked home for dinner at noon ( there was no concept of lunch in Hardwick). I was in the fourth grade when the attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into the World War II. I was in the eighth graded when the war ended in Europe. In High School we had some good and some inadequate instructors as well as two great teachers. Leone Cobb and Chandler Mosher taught us how to write and inspired us to go to college. There were twenty-three in my graduating class in 1949, and twelve went to college. Because it was a small school there were opportunities to participate in a variety of activities. I played basketball, football, and baseball (but I never could hit a curve ball.) I sang in the glee club (though I could not sing,) I acted in plays (though I had no talent). I wrote for the year book and for the school newspaper.

“I spent a great deal of time in the Jeudevine Memorial Library and the Idle Hour Theater, and both places stimulated my imagination and influenced my dreams. In the library I hid out on the balcony and read whatever was on the shelves ‐ biography, fiction and history. I went to the theater at least once a week and usually more than once. Often there was a double feature as well as a cartoon, a serial, and a news reel. I also spent many hours in the “New Gym” which had been completed in 1940. I went there not only for basketball, but also for dances, lectures, graduation exercises, plays, and even movies. I also spent time at the United Church on South Main Street, not only for religious services, but also for church suppers and young peoples’ meetings that included lectures and folk dancing. The United Church was a liberal protestant church. The Catholic Church was across the street. There was tolerance, but little cooperation. My family was Congregational and Republican by conviction and habit. I outgrew both within a decade after I left town. Hardwick was a declining granite town while I was growing up. There was some conflict and prejudice, but there was also a real sense of community.

“I graduated from Dartmouth College in 1953, earned a Masters Degree in History from the University of Rochester in 1954 and a Ph.D. in History at the University of Wisconsin in 1959. I served two years in the Army, as most men of my generation did, but because of student deferments, the Korean War was over before I was drafted. I taught American Cultural History and American Studies in several American Universities and lectured widely in the United States, Europe, and Asia. I have written or edited more than a dozen books and many articles.

“I contribute regularly to The Hazen Road Dispatch, a publication of the Greensboro Historical Society, and the Hardwick Historical Society Journal. I live in Philadelphia, but I return each summer to the family camp on Caspian Lake built by my grandfather in 1923 on land purchased by my grandmother, Florence Haines Davis (1864-1923), in 1913. And I return each year to Hardwick.”

Scope and Content: The Davis Collection contains a variety of ephemera from the Hardwick community dating from the late 19th century through the middle of the 20th century. It also includes a substantial number of inventories from his father’ store and correspondence of John Bell which Davis received from Rosemary Traynor.

System of arrangement: Arranged in six series: I. Hardwick Community, II. Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad, III. Hardwick’s Granite Industry, IV. H.R. Davis Store, V. Bell Correspondence, VI. Miscellaneous.

Removed from Collection: The following issues of the Hardwick Gazettes were moved to the Gazette collection: April 2-April 23, 1892, May 7 – May 14, 1892

  • People and families: Davis, Allen Freeman, 1931‐ ; Traynor, William*; Davis, Harold Freeman, 1894‐1977*; Bell. John*.
  • Geographical names: Hardwick, Vt. ‐ History; Vermont ‐ Social history
  • Corporate names: Congregational Church and Society (Hardwick, Vt.); Methodist Church (Hardwick, Vt.)*; Hardwick and Woodbury Railroad*; Granite Cutters’ International Association of America; Woodbury Granite Company (Hardwick, Vt.); Davis Store; Hardwick (Vt.)* ; United Church of Hardwick (Vt.) ‐ History
  • Occupations: Grocers; Stonecutters
  • Genre:Information form (census); advertisements; booklets; visitors’ books; clippings; ration cards; tickets (railroad); letters (correspondence); appointment books; merchandise inventories; financial records
  • Topics: Floods; Methodism ‐ Hardwick (Vt.);
* means that this name does not appear in an authorized list, such as a Library of Congress Authority File or a Getty Thesauri.

  • Series 1: Hardwick Community
    • Hardwick Gazettes
      Duplicates of April 2, April 16, April 23, May 7, and May 14, 1892
    • Town of Hardwick Census form, 1880
    • Dedication of Congregational Church, 1896
    • Events & announcements, 1901, n.d.
      Program for “Paying the Fiddler,” by the East Hardwick Players, undated [c. 1890- 1920]
    • Wanted poster for Mark Foster, c. 1908
      Foster had been the treasurer for Hardwick Village, Hardwick Town, and the Hardwick schools. In 1908, he absconded about $6,000 [About $167,000 in 2020]. In 1912, he was caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to Windsor Prison, Windsor, Vt.
    • Hardwick Village tax notice. 1909
    • Booklet: Methodism in Hardwick, 1803-1921
    • Hotel guest book, 1925-1932
      Hotel unknown
    • Flood news clippings, 1927
    • Sugar rationing card, c. 1942
    • Davis Store flyer, ca. 1950
    • Business advertisements, mid 20th century
      Maple Hill Farm, Daniels Rocking Milk Chest, Real estate on Greenwood Lake, Hardwick Inn, H.R. Mack (Runaway Pond Memorial), E.R. Fletcher
    • News clippings featuring Allen Davis, 1970s
    • Railroad tickets, nd
      Rutland Railroad Co., St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain, Montpelier & Wells River
    • Copy of Evan Jones’ article “Reveillon in Vermont” from Gourmet Magazine, December, 1984
      Jones had a second home in Walden, one town east of Hardwick.
    • History of United Church of Hardwick, 1981-1991, 1991.
    • Letter to the Editor about the Traynor Family reunion, Spring, 1992
    • Flyers for Davis’ book Postcards from Vermont: A Social History 1905-1945, 2002.
      The HHS holds a copy of this book.
  • Series 2: Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad
    • Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad annual statement, 1906
    • Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad annual statement, 1906 (duplicate)
    • Map of the Hardwick & Woodbury Railroad and quarries, 1969
      By George F. Bickford. Not drawn to scale.
  • Series 3: Woodbury Granite
    • Woodbury Granites booklet, c 1917
      Booklet of pictures of the work of the Woodbury Granite Company
    • Woodbury Granite Co. appointment book calendar, 1917
    • Wm. Traynor notebook: Hardwick Chapter of the Granite Cutters
      Union, 1907-1913 Traynor was the Secretary of the Hardwick branch of the union.
  • Series 4: HF Davis Store
    • HF Davis inventory, 1918
    • HF Davis inventory of January, 1933
    • Misc. documents related to HF Davis inventory, 1940s-1960s
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1950
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1952
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1953
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1954
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1955
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1956
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1957
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1958
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1959
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1961
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1962
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1963
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, 1964
    • January inventory HF Davis Store, undated
      4 folders
    • Charge account form, 1950s
  • Series 5: Bell Correspondence
    • J. Bell invoices, Wolcott, 1849-1851
    • J. Bell correspondence from Ann Bill, 1851-1854
    • J. Bell correspondence from Frederik F. Hall, 1852-1854
    • J. Bell correspondence from Alice Mason, 1854
    • J. Bell correspondence from Sarah Wilder(?), 1854
    • J. Bell correspondence from his sister, Ann, 1850
    • J. Bell correspondence from Marietta ?, 1950s
    • J. Bell correspondence from Lorena Chenay, 1850s-1860s (?)
    • J. Bell correspondence from Adeline Bernils (?), 1861
    • J. Bell correspondence from misc. businesses, 1862
    • J. Bell correspondence from F.C. Hathaway (?), 1865
    • J. Bell correspondence from his brother Charlie, 1875
    • Rosemary Traynor notes on J. Bell correspondence, undated
    • J. Bell correspondence duplicates
  • Series 6: Miscellaneous
    • Newspaper clipping on Blaine & Co., Philadelphia, 1880s(?)
    • Invoices and business correspondence, 1898 1938
    • Ledger of checks, 1924-1928 Unknown account.
    • Grocery prices, 1932

Technical Details

  • Conditions governing access: Open and available to the public
  • Details of physical access: Nothing unusual
  • Details of technical access: Nothing unusual
  • Conditions governing reproduction access and use: Subject of copyright laws.
  • Languages/scripts in the collection: English
  • Other finding aids: None
  • Custodial history: Collected and maintained by Allen F. Davis
  • Immediate source of acquisition: Allen F. Davis
  • Processing Information: Processed by Elizabeth H. Dow and Kris Lance, finished in December, 2020
  • Appraisal/destruction/scheduling information: None planned
  • Accruals: If Dr. Davis adds more to this collection, we will add references to the new material.
  • Existence/location of originals: Hardwick Historical Society
  • Existence/location of copies: None
  • Related archival materials: None
  • Publication notes: Davis published an analysis of the January inventories in the Hazen Road Dispatch in 1984.
  • Miscellaneous notes: None
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