The past never dies for Paul Searls. Leafing through yellowed newspapers to research a strike, he got caught up in the exploits of a 1937 high school basketball team from Burlington. The team lost the New England Championship in a heartbreaker. “I still feel mad about that,” he says, smiling.
In the classroom at Lyndon State College, Professor Searls teaches that history is “a story you tell about yourself. It’s not dates and facts. I try to convince people that history matters and they should care for it long after they leave this place.”
Author of Two Vermonts: Geography and Identity, 1865–1910, Dr. Searls is fascinated by the state’s struggle to reconcile conflicting impulses — development versus preservation, progress versus tradition. “Vermont is a sort of Petri dish,” he says, “an attempt to solve problems that plague all humans.”
He plans a sequel to Two Vermonts. He also hopes to pen a history of the spitball. “Every good historian should write a baseball book.”