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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Tobacco Workers of the Connecticut River Valley

In 2014, researchers Dale Cahill and Darcy Cahill of Bakersfield, Vermont, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to undertake a project documenting "Tobacco Workers of the Connecticut River Valley." During the summer of 2014, they recorded 19 oral histories with tobacco farmers and tobacco farm workers involved in growing high-quality tobacco for premium cigars in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Tobacco farming has been a mainstay of the Connecticut River Valley’s economy since the 1600s. Few people associate tobacco farming with the Connecticut River Valley and even fewer are aware of the arduous and risky work being done in the tobacco sheds, under the shade tents and in the tobacco fields. These interviews document the day-to-day lives of tobacco workers, some of whom are descendants of multi-generational New England tobacco farming families. Others who have come annually each summer for years as guest workers from Puerto Rico and other parts of the United States, Jamaica, and Latin America to plant, raise, harvest, and cure the Connecticut Valley's celebrated tobacco.

Go to Tobacco Workers of the Connecticut River Valley collection items