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Elmer Towne Papers

Identifier: mss-536


Collection contains correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, reports, studies, hearings, notes, and other records documenting Towne's activities as VT Commissioner of Agriculture and related activities. These records relate to the dairy industry in Vermont, maple products, state legislation, agricultural cooperatives, the Vermont Whey Pollution Abatement program, vocational training, agricultural foundations, product and animal testing, mastitis, the Hood milk company, milk orders, milk promotion, and other related topics.


  • circa 1936-1976
  • Majority of material found in 1950-1971



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Elmer Towne was born in Waterbury, Vermont in 1899 to George and Alice (Pike) Towne. Elmer graduated from the University of Vermont in 1919. He served in the Army during World War I.

In 1921, he married Ethel Hoyt (1895–1968). In 1928, they bought a farm in Berlin, Vermont and named it Towne-Ayr where they raised Ayrshire dairy cows and Dorset sheep for decades. Elmer and Ethel had two children; their son Roderick was also a farmer.

Towne was a co-founder of the Central Vermont Artificial Breeders Association, which joined regional partners to become Eastern Artificial Insemination Cooperative Inc. In 1954, he was appointed Vermont's Agriculture Commissioner by Governor Lee Emerson, a role he held until 1963. His tenure was marked by support for cooperatives in the dairy industry. Towne next chaired the Dairy Program Advisory Committee of the Charles H. Hood Dairy Foundation, with the goal of improving New England dairy farming through financial grants and working with colleges and farm organizations.

For 12 years, he was a selectman of the town of Berlin, Vermont. He was also a member of the Farm Bureau. At various times, he also held the following roles: vice president of the New England Dairy Association, director of the Mount Mansfield Coop Creamery, director of Fairdale Farms of Bennington, chairman of the Advisory Board for Vocational Education of the state Department of Education, member of the Cabot Farmers Co-op, chair of the New England Green Pastures, a trustee of the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts, and chair (for ten years) of the Eastern Artificial Insemination Corp.'s Resolutions committee. Towne wrote a column for the Burlington Free Press focusing on agricultural issues from 1963 until his death in 1977.

He was awarded an honorary degree from UVM in 1959 and a national award from the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Towne was received the Agricultural Adventurers Award in 1964. In 1975, he received the Vermont Farm Bureau's Wallace Award for making a "major contribution to Vermont Agriculture." The Elmer Towne Award, given by the Vermont Dairy Industry Association, recognizes the "student whose work in the field of Dairy Science shows the greatest promise for providing the quality leadership exemplified by" Elmer Towne. Towne was inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2004.


27.25 Linear Feet

Arrangement Note

Collection is unprocessed.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Some mModerate foxing remains after in-house surface cleaning.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.


Guide to the Elmer Towne Papers
In Process
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)