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Ernest W. Gibson Jr. Papers

Identifier: mss-926

Scope and Content note

The Ernest W. Gibson Jr. Papers consist of his papers, Preston Gibson's Papers, and Ernest Gibston Sr.'s Papers. The bulk of the collection is Ernest W. Gibson Jr.'s Papers, which is organized into three series. The Gubernatorial Papers contains Gibson's official gubernatorial papers. The Non-Gubernatorial Public Offices Papers, contains general correspondence, political papers, and other materials relating to Gibson's careers in law, the military, and in public and political offices. The Personal Files contains material that overlaps thematically with the contents of the two previous collections about Gibson's professional life, but are of a more personal nature. Material relating to Ernest Gibson's father, Ernest W. Gibson, Sr., and brother, Preston Gibson is presented in two additional series.

The Gubernatorial series consists of those papers kept by Mr. Gibson while he was governor of Vermont, 1947-1950, which were retained in the Public Records Division of the State and microfilmed by Mr. Olney Hill, Public Records Director. After the originals were kept in the Public Records Division for the required number of years, Mr. Hill offered them to the University Library. The arrangement of these papers is the same as the microfilm. The folder titles or topics, which appear in our guide to the contents of these papers, were copied verbatim from the folders which were sent to the Library by Mr. Hill in 1969. This Gubernatorial Collection is so labeled in order to distinguish it from the collection of other Gibson Papers presented to the Library by Ernest W. Gibson, III. The Gubernatorial series is also referred to as the "A" collection. It is arranged alphabetically by topic.

The Gubernatorial series covers Gibson's two terms as Governor. His first term ran from January, 1947 to January, 1949. The papers relating to the first term do not contain a separate Correspondence file and contain very few politically significant speeches. Addresses take the form of fairly short Press Releases and Speech messages. There are quite a few requests for Proclamations, and job appointments as well as a few reports from state agencies. Gibson's second term ran from January, 1949 until his resignation in January, 1950. Although there are fewer papers from his second term than his first, there is about the same amount of speech and press release material, with a considerably smaller amount of proclamations. This series does, however, contain an important final report as Governor. Other events described in this series are the Inauguration of President Truman as well as Gibson's Testimonial dinner and Farewell Address.

The Non-Gubernatorial Public Offices Papers document other professional positions held by Ernest W. Gibson Jr. It includes correspondence, speeches, reports, printed material, newspaper clippings, photographs and other papers relating to Gibson's career as State's Attorney for Windham County (1929-1933), secretary for the Vermont State Senate (1931-1940), U. S. Senator from Vermont (1940-1941), military service during World War II (1942-1945) and Governor of Vermont (1947-1950). It has been divided into sub-series arranged chronologically to reflect the career changes in Gibson's Life. A subject File is included as a catchall, covering a variety of subjects relating to Gibson. These were separated from the main body of papers in order to highlight them. This series is also known as the "B" collection or Gibson Family Papers.

The Personal Files contains eleven sub-series. With the exeception of his files as Governor and as a U.S. District Court Judge, this series contains files more personal than the others. They trace Gibson's career from a college student at Norwich to a U.S. District Judge. This series is also referred to as the "C" collection.

The Preston Gibson series consists of biographical material, printed material, general correspondence, legal records, and personal material. The majority of the collection is comprised of correspondence, including personal correspondence from Ernest W. Gibson Jr. and documents regarding his legal and judicial careers. Legal records include deeds and mortgages of land owned by Preston Gibson along with his wife Elizabeth Brown Gibson, as well as records of a court case regarding the estate of Henry Hildreth. The personal material consists of two annotated lists of names which appear to be a Christmas card list and possibly a list of donors from the Brattleboro, VT region to a political campaign. This series was formerly a part of the Gibson Family Papers.

The Ernest W. Gibson, Sr. series is comprised of correspondence, both personal and political, legal papers, and a large volume of bills and receipts. There are four sub-series in this collection: a General Correspondence file, a Congressional file, a Subject file, and scrapbooks. The General Correspondence file contains both personal and political material while his correspondence with George Aiken from 1937-1940 is highlighted in separate folders. The second sub-series is a Congressional file, the bulk of which represents case files which, for the most part, are legal work done by Gibson during his time as Senator, on behalf of individuals and sometimes resulting in legislation. Also included in the Congressional file is Gibson's work to establish a national airport at Gravelly Point (MD) and a small amount of information on Gibson's travels to the Philippines. The Subject file is arranged alphabeticallyand are a little more personal in nature such as his bills and receipts, his work for Norwich University and the Brattleboro Trust Company. This series was formerly a part of the Gibson Family Papers. The Scrapbooks cover his public life in the form of newspaper clippings and also international travel.


  • 1911-1965



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.


Ernest William Gibson Jr., Republican, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, March 6, 1901; graduated from Brattleboro High School, 1919; Norwich University (A.B. 1923); and attended George Washington University Law School at night from 1924-1927. Practiced law in Brattleboro since 1927. He held the following degrees: A.B., LL.D., D.J.S.

Pre-World War II Political Activities. Assistant secretary, Vermont State Senate, 1931-1933. Secretary, Vermont State Senate, 1933-1940; United States Senator to fill out term of his father, the Honorable Ernest W. Gibson, from June, 1940 to January, 1941; national chairman, Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (so-called William Allen White Committee), January 1941 to May, 1941.

Military Service. Assigned to the 43rd Infantry Division; went overseas with the 43rd Division September, 1942, into the South Pacific area. He served as deputy director, Intelligence Branch, Military Intelligence Service, Washington, D.C. January, 1944 to September, 1945; was discharged as colonel December 25, 1945. He was wounded while overseas. Holder of following decorations: Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, War Department Citation.

Governor and Judge. Elected governor of Vermont, November, 1946; reelected governor November, 1948. Nominated for Federal Judgeship by President Truman, September, 1949; confirmed by U.S. Senate; resigned as governor of Vermont January 15, 1950; sworn in as U.S. District Judge January 16, 1950. He married Dorothy Switzer in 1926 and together they had three sons and one daughter. After his first wife's death, he married Mrs. Ann Haag. Became chief federal judge of the District of Vermont in 1966. In 1968 he presided over the investigation into the "Irasburg Affair".

Ernest William Gibson, Jr. died in Brattleboro on November 4, 1969 after a stroke, age 68, survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.

Preston Fullerton Gibson was born in Brattleboro, Vermont on January 22, 1908. He attended Brattleboro Schools and was graduated from the High School in 1925 and from Norwich University in 1930. During part of his father's tenure as Representative to Congress, he lived and worked in Washington where he attended the National Law School. Upon returning to Vermont he clerked in his brother's law office and was admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1933. From a legal and political family, he immediately began both the practice of law and politics.

He supported Charles Smith of Rutland for Governor, disagreeing with his father and brother, and as a result was appointed Brattleboro Municipal Judge in 1935, becoming the youngest Municipal Judge to serve the State of Vermont up to that time. He served as Municipal Judge until 1939 when he became associated with his brother Ernest in the practice of law.

Always prominent in politics, he did not aspire to public office, being content to serve on the Vermont Young Republican Committee, the State Republican Committee and at other Republican organizational levels, including delegate to the National Convention in 1952. In the long years of service by his brother, Ernest, as United States Senator and Governor of Vermont, Preston became his closest silent advisor.

Preston spent three years in military service in World War II and was discharged as a Captain in 1945, when he was appointed to the State's Veteran's Board and long served as a Trustee of the Vermont Soldiers' Home.

He was a member of the Brattleboro Country Club, The Lodge of Masons, The American Legion, The Outing Club, and the Lions. He served several years as president of the Brattleboro High School Alumni Association. His friends in Brattleboro established a Memorial Fund in his memory - a tribute to him for the good he did for Brattleboro.

Preston Gibson died in Brattleboro at the age of 47 on December 30, 1955. He was the son of Grace Hadley Gibson and Ernest W. Gibson, brother of Ernest W. Gibson (Jr.), and husband of Elizabeth Brown Gibson.

Ernest W. Gibson Sr. was born in Londonderry, Vermont in December, 1871 as the son of William L. Gibson and Saville Stowell. He attended the Black River Academy at Ludlow where he was a classmate of Calvin Coolidge. In 1894 Gibson received a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1896 a Master of Arts from Norwich University. After graduation he acted as principal of Chester High School for four years (1894-1998) and began studying law. On November 25, 1896 Gibson married Grace Fullerton Hadley (1874-1925) while in Chester. In 1898 Gibson finished his studies at the University of Michigan and after being admitted to the Vermont Bar in 1899 he opened a practice in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Gibson began serving in the military in 1899 when he moved to Brattleboro and enlisted in the Vermont National Guard. He became Captain of Company 1, and held this post for four years until he resigned in 1908. He returned to service in 1915 to take part in the Mexican Border Expedition and served in World War I for two years, a part of which was spent overseas. In February, 1919 he returned and was discharged. However, he continued his work for the military establishing a war risk office in Brattleboro and assisting the 172nd infantry in many capacities. He became the first Colonel in this unit and held the post until 1923 with his election to Congress.

Gibson's political career began while he was studying lay in Chester with his post as Registrar of Probate for the District of Winsor. He continued in this post until he moved to Brattleboro whereupon he was appointed Deputy Clerk of the United States Court for the District of Vermont. In 1906 Gibson was elected a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from Brattleboro, from 1907 to 1911 he served as the first judge of the Brattleboro Municipal Court, and in 1908 he was elected to the Vermont State Senate, serving as the President Pro Tempore. Gibson was an unsuccessful candidate for Lieutenant Governor against Justice Slack in 1910, but in 1912 was elected delegate to the Republican National Convention to pledge support for Theodore Roosevelt. In 1919, having returned from military service in World War 1, Gibson was appointed State's Attorney for Windham County and served for almost two years. In 1921 he served only a few months as Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs for Governor Hartness. Upon Porter Dale's resignation from the House of Representatives in 1923, Gibson ran successfully for the seat from the second Congressional District of Vermont. He held his office until the two Congressional Districts of Vermont were abolished and was then elected the first sole Congressman from Vermont.

In 1934 upon the death of Senator Porter Dale, Gibson was appointed by Governor Wilson to fill out the term and was re-elected in 1938. During his terms as Senator, Gibson made official visits to the Phillippines in order to investigate conditions and establish trade agreements leading to the independence of the Islands. Gibson also fought for twelve years for the development of Gravelly Point (MD) as a national airport which was dedicated on September 28, 1940 - four months after his death. Ernest W. Gibson, Sr. died on June 20, 1940. He was survived by two sons, Ernest W., Jr. (1901-1969) and Preston (1908-1955), and a daughter, Doris (1903-1947). A son Frank (1899-1922) and his wife Grace had predeceased him.


73.5 Linear Feet (60 cartons, 14 oversize volumes, 2 boxes, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



The Ernest W. Gibson Jr. Papers document the political and legal careers of US Senator Ernest W. Gibson Sr., US Senator and Vermont Governor Ernest W. Gibson Jr., and the judicial career of Preston F. Gibson.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The scrapbooks in this collection are fragile. Some show limited signs of water damage. Many show evidence of, or continue to use, rusted metal fasteners. Several were constructed using pressure-sensitive tape and the adhesive has failed over time. Some signs of mold growth led to in-house surface cleaning. Some books have multiple pages stuck together. Use caution.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Acquisition Information

The material in the Gubernatorial series was donated by the State Archives in 1969. All other material was donated by Ernest Gibson III.

Guide to the Ernest W. Gibson Jr. 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)