Over the course of the 2019–2020 academic year, Green Mountain Melodies brought together several groups of undergraduate students to study the historic Vermont sheet music in the Champlain College Special Collections. A team of three Broadcast Media Production majors, led by Travis Washington, Class of 2020, produced Forget-Me-Not Vermont, a ten-minute documentary film that explores the interrelated themes of gender roles and standards of beauty through a critical assessment of eight 19th- and 20th-century songs in the collection. Washington collaborated with the College’s student a cappella group, Purposeful Dissonance, to select five of the featured songs to be performed in the film. In the early spring of 2020, twelve singers and the three filmmakers held a recording session at Vermont Public Radio (VPR) to capture high-quality audio and video that was incorporated into the documentary.
A third group of students, eight members of an events management class, assisted with the planning of a community local history event, originally intended as the primary method of public dissemination of the project. They studied the sheet music in the context of the humanities themes selected by Washington in preparation for designing the publicity and program, developing discussion questions for the audience, preparing the catering order, and creating a gift for the private donors who sponsored the event. This event, scheduled for early May 2020, was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, but the events management students gained valuable insights related to the humanities themes as well as direct experience planning an event.
Green Mountain Melodies was made possible by a Humanities Research for the Public Good grant, funded by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and completed in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio, Linda Radtke, and Dr. Wayne Schneider. Additional support was provided by Pat Robins and Lisa Schamberg. We are honored to receive their support.
––Erica Donnis, Champlain College Special Collections Director
Frequently Asked Questions
What do these songs have to do with Vermont?
Some of these songs were written by local Vermont residents of the time; some were written about Vermont itself. Each and every one reveals a different aspect of the state’s history and people.
How do these songs relate to today?
Many of these display a sharp contrast to the values we hold in the modern day and emphasize the development we have all gone through as a country. Others still resonate with feelings that are universal, such as a longing for a home since left behind.
How long has this project been in the works?
The idea for this documentary came around near the end of 2018. Filming began at the start of the 2019 fall semester.