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Libraries Hosts Celebration of Lisman and Leahy Collections

Date: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2024


On Friday, April 12 at 2 p.m., the Marsh Room in Billings Library was active with alumni, members of the Foundation, Libraries employees and Senator Leahy himself. The event celebrated two extraordinary collections acquired by Silver Special Collections (SSC) in the past year. Most recently, Bruce Lisman ‘69 donated his collection of early American literature to SSC (Lisman was unable to attend the event). Last year, SSC acquired Senator Leahy’s collection of mementoes and documents from his career in politics; this collection is currently being cataloged by a team of three archivists.  

Several speakers celebrated the Lisman collection including Barbara Fiddler ‘62, president of the External Libraries Advisory Board, Bryn Geffert, dean of UVM Libraries, and Chris Burns, interim director of Silver Special Collections.  

“These two collections are wonderful examples of the work we are able to do in partnership with donors and our colleagues here at UVM,” said Burns. “Bruce Lisman was rather adamant that this collection does not sit around idly somewhere. He wanted to bring it into the classroom.” 

Barbara Fiddler added, “One of Lisman’s passions is literature by black women in the 1700s. His generosity and interests bring such a rich history to UVM.” 


From left to right: Chris Burns, Barbara Fiddler, Senator Leahy, Marcelle Leahy, Bryn Geffert 


Senator Leahy shared personal stories and UVM anecdotes including a memory of he and wife Marcelle’s fondness for studying in Billings during their time as students. Marcelle, also present at the event, was a nursing student at UVM and had a curfew, Leahy said, however, students were permitted to stay out past curfew if they were studying. Leahy would come to UVM campus from Saint Michael’s College to study in Billings throughout the night with Marcelle.  

Following his remarks, the audience rose and explored items from the two collections. UVM Libraries’ archivists for the Leahy collection, Sally Blanchard O’Brien, Shir Bach, and Erica Donnis were available for discussion. English department faculty members Mary Lou Kete and Liz Fenton, and Silver Special Collections faculty member, Prudence Doherty, were available for discussion of Lisman’s collection.  


Shir Bach shares Leahy's collection with attendees.