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Jessie Lafountain Bigwood papers, 1886-1988.
Bigwood, Jessie Lafountain, 1874-1953.
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  MSA 391  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 

Personal Author : Bigwood, Jessie Lafountain, 1874-1953.
Title : Jessie Lafountain Bigwood papers, 1886-1988.
Physical Description : .25 linear feet.
Summary :

The papers consist of Jessie Lafountain Bigwood's letters to family members from 1931 to 1953, photographs, and her step-sister's correspondence in regard to Bigwood's estate.

In a group of 1931 to 1940 letters that Bigwood wrote to her teenage niece Helen Phipard, Bigwood encouraged Helen to study for a profession. With each letter she enclosed a column, "Training for Life's Work," from an unnamed Ontario newspaper. Bigwood wrote to her step-sister, Cora Gebo Munsell, in South Royalton during the last months of her life. Bigwood, a widow, lived in a modest Toronto apartment, and supplemented her pension working as a nurse's aid.

After Bigwood's death in September 1953, her niece, Marguerite Bigwood Rogers, wrote a series of letters from Toronto to Cora Munsell. Bigwood died intestate; Marguerite was administrator of her estate and Cora Munsell was one of the heirs.

The papers include photocopies of the Vermont Bar Association Proceedings, August 1903, and Vermont Bar Journal, December 1980 and April 1988, that have articles about Bigwood's early professional achievements. The papers also include a photocopy of an April 30, 1904, article from Burlington Clipper, on which the previous articles are based.

Biographical or historical data :

Jessie Lafountain was born in 1874, the daughter of Helen H. Payette (1849-1931?) and Frank LaFountain (1845-1876) in Plattsburgh, New York. According to the Burlington Clipper, April 30, 1904, she graduated from the local high school at the young age of 16. Subsequently, she attended the Burlington Business College for a few terms, did stenography and bookkeeping and was a government "reporter" at Fort Ethan Allen. She was married in 1898 to Frederick H. Bigwood of Winooski, Vermont and shortly thereafter entered the office of V.A. Bullard, a Burlington attorney. In 1900 she took a special law course at Boston University. She was admitted to the Vermont Bar, after completing the examination successfully, in October, 1902. No other woman had until that time been admitted as a member of the Vermont Bar. Letters in the collection indicate that by 1931, Bigwood and her husband were living in Toronto, Canada, where she remained until her death on September 23, 1953.

Personal Subject : Bigwood, Jessie Lafountain, 1874-1953.
Subject Term : Women lawyers Vermont.
Professional education of women United States.
Nurses' aides Ontario Toronto.
Decedents' estates Ontario Toronto.
Genre/Form : Letters Correspondence
Added Author : Rogers, Marguerite Bigwood.
Electronic Resource : Click here for full text of finding aid.