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Philip H. Hoff Papers

Identifier: mss-379

Scope and Content Note

The Hoff collection consists exclusively of Mr. Hoff's papers accumulated during his three terms as Governor of Vermont from 1962 to 1969. The collection is arranged chronologically with important sub-divisions. These subdivisions are three in number and operate in a cyclical fashion within each two year term of office. The first important section is the Departmental Group File which consists of the Governor's correspondence with the executive officers of both the State of Vermont and the United States Government. These papers are arranged alphabetically (i.e. Administration, Agriculture, Air Force, etc.) and are filed either as a group or individually. This distinction is duly noted in the inventory and is labelled either "Group File - U.S. and Vermont Departments - Interfiled" or "Group File - U.S. and Vermont Departments - Filed Separately." The second sub-division within the cycle is the "Group Subjects File," which consists of correspondence pertaining to significant topics like "Drought, 1965" or "Eastern States Exposition, 1965" arranged alphabetically. The final and least important sub-division is the "Alphabetic File," which contains folders marked from A to Z and holds correspondence of only minor importance. Although this arrangement might appear to be a very straightforward proposition, the researcher must be warned that this system is far from perfect. When investigating a particular topic one should make full use of every file as correspondence from an issue might have been files in both the departmental Group File and the "Group Subjects File." A check of the "Alphabetic File" is worthwhile if only for the sake of thoroughness. As the collection consists of a great deal of paper, a large degree of perseverance will also be necessary.

As the 1960's were a time of great social and economic change in the United States, the Phillip Hoff papers are perhaps most valuable for their reflections of these changes in the State of Vermont. As the beginning of the 1960's of course, there was a spirit of social reform in the air that was being energetically fostered on the national level by President John F. Kennedy. After his assassination in 1963, President Lyndon Johnson gave this spirit massive financial support by making millions of dollars available to the states under the "Great Society" and "War on Poverty" programs. As a staunch Kennedy-Johnson Democrat, Phillip Hoff was fully imbued with the spirit of reform and worked successfully to secure large amounts of federal money for social improvements in Vermont. During his tenure in office vast sums of money were spent bettering educational facilities, highways, public health, civil defense, outdoor recreation areas, and agricultural lands. The collection is literally bursting with correspondence related to these matters in both the Departmental Group File and the Group Subjects File. Particularly interesting in this context are the files regarding educational improvements in the state of Vermont. On all levels, be it primary, secondary, or university, the quality of education was vastly improved, a fact which is fully attested to in Mr. Hoff's gubernatorial papers.

Of the two major files within the collection, the Group Subjects File is perhaps the most fascinating. Within these files is correspondence connected with numerous interesting subjects such as the National and New England Governors Conferences; the Vietnam War; Re-Apportionment of the Vermont General Assembly, Re-organization of the Vermont State Government; the Frank Brown case; the Irasburg Affair; the War on Poverty; civil rights; capital punishment; the New England drought of 1963 - 1965; and rural development in the State of Vermont. At the very end of the collection there is also a special subject file which deals with Mr. Hoff's campaign for governor, as well as a section dealing with the abbreviated campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy for President in 1968.

Notable correspondents in the Hoff collection are numerous in terms of both national and Vermont figures. Among these are: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Lyndon B. Johnson, John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert MacNamara, Dean Rusk, Edmund Muskie, Terry Sanford, George Wallace, Winston Prouty, George Aiken, Richard Snelling, T. Gary Buckley, T. Wesley Grady, Thomas Kenney, and many, many more.


  • circa 1950-1980



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Governor Hoff has stipulated that "I desire that no materials be published by others during my lifetime without my written approval." All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.


Philip Henderson Hoff was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on June 29, 1924. The son of Olaf and Agnes, Mr. Hoff was educated in the town of Montague, Massachusetts and graduated from Turners Falls High School in 1942. After his graduation, Mr. Hoff enrolled at Williams College only to interrupt his studies early in 1943 to serve in the United States Navy Submarine Service during World War II. Discharged in 1946, Mr. Hoff returned to Williams where he received his B.A. in the spring of 1948. Before continuing his education at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York, Mr. Hoff married Joan Brower of Hackensack, New Jersey, on August 28, 1948. In subsequent years the couple raised four daughters: Susan, Dagny, Andrea, and Gretchen.

After his graduation from Cornell in 1951, the Hoffs moved to Burlington, Vermont where Mr. Hoff eventually became a partner in the legal firm of Black, Wilson, and Coffrin. He began his political career in the latter part of the 1950's by working as a precinct worker for the Democratic Party in the city of Burlington. In 1961 Mr. Hoff campaigned for the state legislature and was elected to serve in the Vermont General Assembly as a Burlington representative. In 1962, at the age of thirty-eight, Mr. Hoff was elected Governor of Vermont defeating the incumbent Republican F. Ray Keyser. A stunning upset, Mr. Hoff's victory represented the Democratic Party's first conquest of that office in 109 years. The victory was won by the slim margin of 1,348 votes. Mr. Hoff was re-elected to the Governor's office in 1964 and again in 1966, both times by much more substantial margins.

During his tenure as Governor, Mr. Hoff won national recognition for his progressive views on social legislation, civil rights, and tireless involvement with the National and New England Governor's Conferences. He chose not to run for re-election in 1968 and retired briefly to private life in Burlington. In 1970 he challenged the incumbent Republican Winston Prouty for the seat of U.S. Senator. Although leading in the polls for much of the campaign, Mr. Hoff was eventually defeated by Mr. Prouty in November of 1970. After his defeat in the senatorial campaign, Mr. Hoff returned to his private law practice in Burlington.


231 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection contains correspondence, expense records, clippings, photographs, audio and video materials, reports, speeches, photographs, and other materials documenting Hoff's activities as Vermont State Senator, Vermont Governor, and Burlington, Vermont lawyer, as well as his campaigns for the offices he held and for United States Senate. The bulk of the collection focuses on his gubernatorial years, 1962-1969.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

The Benjamin Collins Papers, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, document the gubernatorial career of Philip H. Hoff and the Youth Project of Vermont. The Youth Project of Vermont Records, also at University of Vermont Special Collections more closely document the project. It was also known as the Vermont Youth Project, Vermont-New York Youth Project, and the New York City (or NYC)-Vermont Youth Project.

Guide to the Philip H. Hoff Papers
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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)