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Vision & Voice Documentary Workspace



Women Town Clerks of Vermont.  Photographs by Sandra Elkin

Women Town Clerks of Vermont:
Reflections on Democracy

A Photographic Exhibit with Sound

Vermont Folklife Center
Vision & Voice Documentary Workspace
88 Main Street, Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 388-4964
February 1, 2011 – March 31, 2011.


This unique exhibition created by New York-based photographer, Sandra Elkin, combines portrait photography and the voices of 19 women town clerks to create a fascinating glimpse of who they are and their concerns. Whether plainspoken or boldly provocative, the “Clerks” challenge us as they speak openly and frankly of democracy, town meetings, the obligations of citizenship, state government, and their towns.

Sandra Elkin began work on her “Town Clerks” project in the summer of 2008 in the midst of a historic presidential campaign that held our country and most of the world captivated. An unpopular war and an ailing economy were on people’s minds. The candidates talked of making choices between personal freedoms and national security. Questions about the health of our democracy and our political system swirled around the campaign.

To find answers, Elkin turned to the strong basic democratic tradition in small towns in Vermont and to Town Clerks, the government officials closest to the people and the neighborhood watchers of our most cherished expression of democracy - elections. “They are, I think, the first firewall of our democracy,” she says. “And I learned that we all need to broaden our definition of what’s a threat.”

Public programming for the exhibit will include sessions—organized by town clerks—on the Australian ballot and its impact on town meeting and the changes imposed on town government by state-level decisions. UVM political science professor Frank Bryan will also weigh in with a lecture titled “Town Meeting and Local Government: Focus on Women.”


Links to Additional Exhibit Resources

  • View the schedule of exhibit events and programs :: link
  • Sandra Elkin's Website dedicated to her project:

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