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Madeleine May Kunin Papers

Identifier: mss-773

Scope and Content

The Madeleine May Kunin Papers contain materials spanning her political career from 1977 as Lieutenant Governor to 1996 when she left the United States to become Ambassador to Switzerland. The collection consists primarily of Kunin's gubernatorial and campaign files: county papers, press releases, newspaper clippings, articles, photographs, speeches, issues and Kunin's position on the issues, campaign contributions, volunteers and results. The collection also contains memorabilia from conventions, speeches and elections, and audio and video tapes.

Notable correspondents include Geraldine Ferraro and Bill Clinton. Speeches included in the collection include talks on women's and environmental issues, two areas where Governor Kunin has focused considerable attention over the years.


  • 1977-1992


Language of Materials



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.


Madeleine May Kunin was born in Zurich, Switzerland on September 28, 1933. She immigrated to the United States in 1940 with her widowed mother and ten year old brother. Jews escaping the Hitler regime, they sailed on the last ship leaving Italy, arriving in New York.

She grew up in Pittsfield, MA and attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on a scholarship. She majored in history and graduated in 1956. She was also elected woman of the year. Kunin then attended the Columbia School of Journalism where she received a masters degree in journalism in 1957. She then moved to Burlington, Vt. to work for the Burlington Free Press as an education reporter and editor of the teen page. She met Dr. Arthur Kunin, a doctor and instructor at the University of Vermont. In 1961 they were married (divorced in 1995) and had 4 children: Peter, Julia, Daniel, and Adam. She went back to school to receive a masters degree in English literature at the University of Vermont in 1967. In 1969, she began teaching at Trinity College in Burlington.

In 1971, Kunin was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democratic representative from Burlington. She served two three-year terms and became a minority whip in 1974. During her second term, she moved into the House Appropriations Committee. She became the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee in her third term. In 1978, she was elected Lieutenant Governor of Vermont and served two terms. She was the second woman to hold this position in the state. On February 23, 1982, Kunin announced her candidacy for governor. She lost to Republican Richard Snelling. She then decided to host a radio talk show for WJOY radio and teach journalism at Middlebury College and St. Michael's College.

In 1984 she again announced her candidacy for Governor of Vermont. She was elected and became the first woman governor in Vermont and the fourth in the nation. During 1985 and 1991 Madeleine Kunin developed new funding formulas for state aid school districts, she increased state aid for school districts by 109%, and helped set up the interactive TV education - access system. She funded health insurance coverage for pregnant women and children from birth to six years old, mandated maternity care as a health insurance benefit, and required employers to grant 12 weeks, unpaid maternity leave. Kunin also achieved the highest immunization rate in the U.S. for the state of Vermont, strengthened substance abuse laws, established the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and enhanced penalties for hate motivated crimes. She provided funding for two loan programs for refinancing farm debt, expanded the current use program to greatly reduce the property tax burden on farm and forest land, and oversaw the creation of 45,000 new jobs in Vermont. She also established Market Vermont, a state wide program for promoting Vermont products, strengthened protection of significant wetlands, and established a comprehensive hazardous waste program.

Madeleine Kunin decided not to run for governor in the 1992 elections. Instead, she became U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. On August 8, 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed her as ambassador to Switzerland. In late August, 1996, Madeleine Kunin returned to her native country.


70 Linear Feet (56 cartons)


The Madeleine May Kunin Papers contain materials spanning her political career from 1977 as Lieutenant Governor to 1996 when she left the United States to become Ambassador to Switzerland.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Madeleine May Kunin


  • Frandsen, Jon. Burlington Free Press June, 1996
  • Graff Christopher. Burlington Free Press Aug. 9, 1996
  • Kunin, Madeleine. We Made a Difference Editing and Design Publication Services. pp. 1 - 16
  • Petenaude, Michele. Vermont Women July, 1990
  • Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual 1973 - 1974. pp. 524, 525
Guide to the Madeleine May Kunin Papers, 1977-1992
In Progress
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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)