Hands on the Land
In this book Jan Albers examines the history—natural, environmental, social, and ultimately human—of one of America's most cherished landscapes: Vermont.
Albers shows how Vermont has come to stand for the ideal of unspoiled rural community, examining both the basis of the state's pastoral image and the equally real toll taken by the pressure of human hands on the land. She begins with the relatively light touch of Vermont's Native Americans, then shows how European settlers—armed with a conviction that their claim to the land was "a God-given right"—shaped the landscape both to meet economic needs and to satisfy philosophical beliefs. The often turbulent result: a conflict between practical requirements and romantic ideals that has persisted to this day.
Making lively use of contemporary accounts, advertisements, maps, landscape paintings, and vintage photographs, Albers delves into the stories and personalities behind the development of a succession of Vermont landscapes. She observes the growth of communities from tiny settlements to picturesque villages to bustling cities; traces the development of agriculture, forestry, mining, industry, and the influence of burgeoning technology; and proceeds to the growth of environmental consciousness, aided by both private initiative and governmental regulation. She reveals how as community strengthens, so does responsible stewardship of the land.
Albers shows that like any landscape, the Vermont landscape reflects the human decisions that have been made about it—and that the more a community understands about how such decisions have been made, the better will be its future decisions.
About the Author
Jan Albers received her doctorate in history from Yale University. She has taught at Yale, the University of Sussex, and Middlebury and St. Michael's Colleges in Vermont.
"The fascination of Hands on the Land lies in its beautifully orchestrated build-up to the Vermont of today." , Tom Hotaling, Architecture Boston