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Dale Family Papers

Identifier: mss-089

Scope and Contents

The Dale Family Papers consist of approximately 43 linear feet of correspondence, business records, bound manuscripts, speeches and writings, diaries, scrapbooks and clippings, and miscellaneous other papers. The chronological span of the collection is from 1841 to 1961, with the heaviest concentration of material falling between 1875 and 1935.

The Dale collection provides a revealing look at the interests, activities and careers of three generations of a prominent Vermont family. Students of social history will find considerable amounts of material in the papers on family networks and relationships, the role of women in Victorian and early twentieth-century America, family and household expenses, the temperance and womens' suffrage movements, and other aspects of Vermont and American society between 1860 and 1935. The social history sources in the collection include large numbers of family letters, personal diaries, family photographs, newspaper clippings and ephemera, poetry, and bound manuscripts.

There is also much in the Dale Papers relating to the history of the town of Brighton and village of Island Pond. Among these local materials are bills and invoices from Essex County merchants, town and village tax documents, records of the Island Pond Electric Company, manuscripts concerning the activities of town clubs and organizations, and papers reflecting the official and unofficial influence that the Dales exercised in their community.

In addition to its usefulness for social and local history, the Dale collection is rich in sources on the professional careers of George, Porter, and Timothy Dale. One of the more substantial subsections of the papers details George N. Dale's extensive northern Vermont legal practice. The legal papers include printed and manuscript briefs for individual cases, note on particular cases and general points of law, deeds and depositions, and other court documents. There is also a smaller amount of material from Porter H. Dale's occasional law work, most notably a group of papers about his work as counsel for accused murderer Florence M. Dodge in 1911. Numerous receipts, reports, letters and other papers document the Dales' work as U.S. customs officials. Although the papers from the thrid generation are not as extensive as those from the first two, the collection does contain a variety of material generated by Timothy C. Dale during his years as an electric power company manager and administrator, as president of the Burlington Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and as a Vermont state government official.

A good deal of the Dale collection concerns the financial and business interests of the family. These papers include manuscripts pertaining to investments in various lumber companies in Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont, the Clyde River Power Company and the development of the other electric power companies in Essex and Orleans Counties in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and scattered railroad express company manuscripts. There are also large amounts of correspondence and financial documents dealing with Porter H. Dale's role in the District Florida Corporation's real estate activities in the 1920s and '30s. Account books, bank statements, checkbooks and cancelled checks, and a wide variety of bills and receipts offer further insights into the financial aspects of the family's history.

As might be expected, politics and the political careers of George N. Dale and Porter H. Dale account for a sizeable percentage of the Dale collection. George N. Dale's correspondence includes letters from many of Victorian Vermont's government leaders; these letters complement the late nineteenth-century political papers in the Benedict and Farnham collections at UVM. Porter Dale's political papers deal more with the Vermont aspects of his campaigns and activities than with his attention to national issues and projects as a member of Congress. Correspondence, scrapbooks, speeches, printed campaign ephemera, voters' petitions, and other papers provide considerable documentation on Dale's election and reelection efforts between 1900 and 1933. However, despite the presence of small groups of papers on scattered aspects of national politics in the 1920s and '20s, there is surprisingly little material relating directly to Dale's work in Congress. According to Dale family tradition, Augusta M. Wood Dale discarded most of the Congressional papers that were at the Dale house in Washington after her husband's death, while the manuscripts relating to politics in Vermont remained in storage at the family home in Island Pond.

In addition to the major concentrations within the collection, there are other small groups of interesting material on individual subjects. Among these are: George N. Dale's papers as a Civil War military recruiter; many Porter Dale manuscript sermons, speeches, short stories and other writings; printed and manuscript poems by Amy K. Bartlett Dale; Timothy C. Dale school noted and papers); newspaper clippings on various 1900-30 topics; and George N. Dale II scrapbook on the 1910-11 Vermont State Legislature (carton 38, folder 18). Materials in the Papers on World War I include letters, clippings, maps, photographs, speeches, and reports from Porter Dale's trips to Europe in 1917 and 1919, as well as letters and books relating to Timothy Dale's service in France.

There are eight distinct series of material in the Dale Papers: correspondence and miscellaneous papers; legal papers; legal notebooks; newspaper clippings; photographs; checks and bank statements; bound volumes. The basic arrangement within the individual series is chronological, with undated material at the back of each group. Researchers working on particular subjects should check the inventory listings for each series, as the series groupings are by type of material rather than by topic. For biographical and genealogical information on the Dale family, see carton 1.

The Dale Family Papers came to the Wilbur Collection between 1982 and 1986 in a series of donations from Dr. Porter H. Dale of Montpelier, Vermont, and Mr. Lawrence P. Dale of Colorado Springs, Colorado.


  • 1841-1961


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.


Three generations of Dales played important roles in the history of Essex County and the state of Vermont in the century between 1860 and 1960. The most prominent members of the family, and those represented most heavily in this collection, were:

George Needham Dale - Born in Fairfax, Vermont, on February 19, 1834, George Needham Dale attended Thetford Academy, studied law under Paul Dillingham in Waterbury, and gained admittance to the Vermont bar in 1856. He established his first practice in Guildhall in partnership with William H. Hartshorn, and served as State's Attorney for Essex County from 1857 to 1861. Dale moved to the Brighton village of Island Pond in 1861, where he began a long dual career as a U.S. Customs official and a lawyer for the Grand Trunk Railway Company. His political career began in 1860 with one term as representative from Guildhall; after moving to Island Pond, he served four one-year terms (1866-1869) in the State Senate, the last two as President pro tem, followed by his election in 1970 as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont. In the early 1890s, he returned to Montpelier for one term (1892) as state representative from Brighton and one term (1894) in the Senate. Among his other offices were the presidency of the Vermont Bar Association (1896) and the U.S. Consulship at Coaticook, Canada (1901-02). On October 7, 1863, Dale married Helen M. Hinman of Derby; they had one son and two daughters. George Needham Dale died in Island Pond on January 29, 1903, at the age of 68.

Porter Hinman Dale - Porter Hinman Dale was born in Island Pond, Vermont, on March 1, 1867, the son of George N. and Helen Hinman Dale. He attended the Washington County Grammar School in Montpelier and Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, and graduated from James E. Murdoch's National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia in 1889. After a brief affiliation with Green Mountain Seminary in Waterbury, he taught elocution at Bates College in 1891-92, then went into business before gaining admittance to the Vermont Bar in 1896. The following year, Dale became deputy collector of Customs at Island Pond, a position he held until 1910; during the 1890s and early 1900s, he also served as an officer or director of a variety of Island Pond corporations, fraternal and political groups, banks, and other organizations. Porter Dale's political career began inauspiciously with an unsuccessful candidacy for Congress in 1900, but 10 years later he won election to the Vermont State Senate from Essex County. After two terms in the Vermont Senate, he ran again for congress in 1914, and this time was successful. Reelected four times, in 1923 he moved over to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William P. Dillingham; he remained in the Senate for the last 10 years of his life, winning reelection in 1926 and 1932. Dale married Amy K. Bartlett of Island Pond on June 1, 1891, a marriage that produced two sons and two daughters. Amy Bartlett Dale died in 1907, and Dale married Augusta M. Wood on June 25, 1910. Porter Hinman Dale died in Westmore, Vermont, on October 6, 1933, at the age of 66.

Timothy C. Dale - Timothy C. Dale was born on February 22, 1894, in Island Pond, the son of Porter H. And Amy Bartlett Dale. He attended Island Pond schools, Vermont Academy, and Oberlin College, and graduated from Eastern College in Manassas, Virginia, in 1916. During World War I, he served in France with Harvard Base Hospital No. 5. After the war, he attended New York Electrical School and worked briefly as an electrician in Ontario before returning to Island Pond in 1921 to manage the Island Pond Electric Company. In the early 1930s, he became cashier of the Island Pond National Bank, eventually rising to the presidency of the bank. Governor Charles M. Smith appointed him Vermont Commissioner of Public Welfare in 1935; that year he also served as Department Commander, American Legion, State of Vermont. After 13 years as Commissioner of Public Welfare, in 1948 Dale became Commissioner of Corrections and Instituations, holding that position until his retirement in 1959. He was a member of the Vermont House in 1933, and was president of the Burlington Mutual FIre Insurance COmpany from 1935 to 1961. He married Emma Everhart Hemmig, an Eastern College classmate, on June 9, 1920; they had two sons and two daughters. Timothy C. Dale died in Berlin, Vermont, on October 3, 1977, at the age of 83.


43.04 Linear Feet (37 cartons, 3 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The Dale Family Papers include records from a prominent Vermont family, primarily George N. Dale, Porter H. Dale, and Timothy C. Dale. The records include correspondence, writings, business records, bound manuscripts, speeches and writings, diaries, scrapbooks, clippings, financial records, photographs, ledgers, and maps. The chronological span of the collection is from 1841 to 1961, with the heaviest concentration of material falling between 1875 and 1935. The collection provides information about social history in Vermont, the history of the village of Island Pond and Essex County, Vermont, and the professional activities of George, Porter, and Timothy Dale, who participated in varying capacities in legal practices, Vermont state politics, and federal politics.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Dale Family Papers
2017 May 11
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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)