If these boxes could talk, oh, the stories they'd tell. And for archivists like Scott Reilly, they do.
"It gives us a good window into essentially the 90s in Vermont," Reilly said. "Certainly there are notes in there-- you can tell, he's peeved."
For the better part of the past six months, Reilly has gone through these boxes at the state archives in Middlesex; the last of Howard Dean's records from his time in office now open to the public a decade after his final days as governor.
"Since being unsealed, only about a dozen people have actually come to see the records," Reilly said. "Almost all of them media. But back when Howard Dean was running for president, the fight over these boxes went all the way to the state Supreme Court."
A conservative watchdog group sued back in 2003 to get access to the records; the court said no. Now that they're open, Justice Watch hasn't been to the archives. The group's president said in a statement, "It will be interesting to see what he was so desperate to protect."
Janet Ancel, Dean's former lawyer, says there's nothing of the sort.
"I don't think there's going to be anything to make people see this particular governor in a different way," Ancel said.
Ancel thinks most of the things now unsealed are letters between Vermonters and the governor.
"I did read every letter the governor got on civil unions," she said.
Deeply personal letters on arguably the biggest issue of his time in office. From a Jericho resident who said civil unions would disgrace the state, to an Essex Junction mom who said her daughter deserved the same rights.
"You'd read something like that and you'd realize people were really struggling with this," Ancel said. "And I am also struck by how far we've come."
These boxes don't offer just a glimpse of the man who was governor-- more, a picture of the people in the state he served and oh, the stories they tell.
Each governor makes an agreement with the secretary of state to seal certain documents under what's known as executive privilege. Governor Dean's deal was for a decade. That's longer than other recent governors. The records of Governors Kunin, Snelling and Douglas were sealed for six years.
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