Friday, October 28, 2016

Midd Start - Philanthropy and Local Research

Vankina Prasanna, a Middlebury College history major, is raising funds to work with me and the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History on a unique research project exploring the life and times of a local trapper, hunter and fisherman. Among other things her goal is to work with me building a replica of one of his trapping boats. She is raising funds and support from a variety of sources, and we hope to create a project that will allow the public to participate as observers and learn more about local boat types.

I previously taught Vankina in my 2015 J-term Building the Japanese Boat and I look forward to working with her again. Please take a look at her proposal at the Midd Start website and consider donating!

Harold McDurfee was a member of a well-known family of outdoorsmen to live and work in this region. The McDurfees were legendary watermen, trappers, and hunters and like many rural Vermonters they built their own boats. In fact the boat in the background of this historic photo of Harold may be the same boat in the photo below.

The current owner of the property where Mcdurfee lived gave me this boat several years ago. At the time I was starting a project with local high schoolers researching traditional boat designs, and I brought this boat among others into the classroom.

Students stabilized the boat and measured it carefully.

The result was a detailed, CAD drawing. When Prasanna approached me with her research idea I thought it was the logical next step to this topic: thoroughly research the McDurfee Family and replicate one of the most important artifacts of their lives. The McDurfee trapping boat is the most finely-built example of this type, and it would be extraordinary to see one built, as well as uncover a fuller picture of its builder and owner. Please consider a donation to Prasanna's Midd Start application.

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