User Spotlight Series: Brennan Gauthier, VTrans Archaeologist

I sat down with Brennan Gauthier on a chilly (and snowy) February morning at UVM’s Special Collections in Bailey-Howe Library to discuss his discoveries on Chronicling America. And, goodness, did he ever have some good stories to share!

Image of Brennan Gauthier. Photograph courtesy of Brennan Gauthier.

Gauthier is the VTrans Archaeologist for the Vermont Department of Transportation (VTrans), and he was quick (and excited) to reveal that he uses Chronicling America on a daily basis with his work as an archaeologist in the field. For every project that the Department of Transportation undertakes in Vermont, such as building a bridge or expanding a road, Gauthier and his colleagues in the Cultural Resource Team at VTrans must closely inspect and research the site to assess the potential for effects on cultural resources in the area surrounding the site. To this end, therefore, Chronicling America provides an accessible and easily searchable method to research historic activity in the area up to 1922.

Most recently, Gauthier conducted research on the very first international hockey game that took place during Burlington’s first Carnival  of Winter Sports. He presented his findings at the Preservation Burlington awards on February 21, 2014.

A description of the sport of hockey for those who may not have heard of it. From the Burlington Weekly Free Press, March 5, 1886, p. 2.

Originally, the hockey tournament was slated for February 19th, 1886. However, due to a snowstorm (not so surprising in Vermont!), the tourney was pushed back  a week. Three Canadian teams were planning on playing; however, as a result of the storm, a Burlington hockey team was pieced together to compete with two other Canadian teams. And thus, because of our Vermont winter weather, the very first international game of hockey in history commenced on February 26, 1886, in Burlington, Vermont.

The two teams that competed in this first international game were the Montreals from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association  (out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and Van Ness, a team compiled quickly out of Burlington, who had not competed in a match before this point. They fought “pluckily,” but lost 3-2 to the Montreals, who ultimately won the gold medal.  Another Montreal team, the Crystals, competed with Van Ness afterward for the silver. After only one point scored in two games, the Crystals took second.

The Van Ness roster named, and an account of the game. From the Burlington Weekly Free Press, March 5, 1886, p. 2.

Despite the loss, the Free Press reported, “Hockey at once leaped into popularity on the part of those Burlingtonians who witnessed the game…”

Gauthier also shared that they were able to track down the gold medal from the tournament (shown below), which will be donated eventually to the University of Vermont’s Special Collections.

The gold medal awarded to the Montreals at the end of tournament. Photo courtesy of Brennan Gauthier.


“Soldier Dies in Westfield.” Vermont Phoenix, November 2, 1917, 2.

Gauthier also uses Chronicling America for his own personal research.  His blog, Portraits of War, highlights the lives of military personnel in World War I and World War II. Here, too, Chronicling America has played an essential role in his researching of individuals. One particular fellow, from Westminster, Vermont, Walter J. Fuller, enlisted into the 103rd MG, 26th Division, in the summer of 1917 in WWI. Only a few months later, he died of bronchial pneumonia in camp. Greater details on his life and death were found by Gauthier in the Vermont Phoenix.  For the full blog entry visit here.

A sincere thanks to Brennan Gauthier for taking the time to share some of his research projects and his many uses of Chronicling America’s historic newspapers.

Brennan Gauthier’s personal blog:

To view more newspaper articles about the Carnival, see:

“Burlington’s Carnival: The Week’s Sports Have a Most Auspicious Opening,” Burlington Weekly Free Press, February 26, 1886, p. 8.

“Burlington’s Carnival: Thursday Eclipses All Past Days of the Carnival,” Burlington Weekly Free Press, March 5, 1886, p. 2. [This has the complete hockey article.]

Also, additional images of Burlington’s first Winter Carnival  in 1886  are posted on the University of Vermont’s Library Flickr account. Pretty neat! Winter Carnival Flickr Photo Album


Finally, if you or someone else you know has a great story to share about how Chronicling America has impacted a research project, and might be interested in sharing the experience, please email Karyn at

Interview conducted by Karyn Norwood, Digital Support Specialist