Helen E. Burbank Article

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Helen E. Burbank (July 27, 1898—February 22, 1981) was a career public servant in Vermont. She was the longtime Deputy Secretary of State, and served for over a year as Secretary of State of Vermont after she was appointed to fill a vacancy.


Helen Elizabeth Burbank was born in Otego, New York on July 27, 1898, the daughter of Horace J. Burbank (1869-1914) and Edith L. Wicks (1866-1950). [1] She was raised in Vermont, and graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy. [1]

Burbank was initially employed in the office of the Vermont Commissioner of Industry. [2] During World War I, Burbank was the personal assistant for the Vermont director of the United States Employment Service. [2] After the war, she was employed at a Montpelier insurance agency, and then returned to the Vermont Commissioner of Industry's office as a stenographer. [3]

In August 1920, Burbank accepted a position in the office of the Secretary of State of Vermont. [4] In 1927, the incumbent Secretary, Rawson C. Myrick, appointed her as his deputy. [5] Burbank served as Deputy Secretary of State until 1947. [6]

In August, 1947, Myrick resigned. [6] Ernest W. Gibson Jr., then serving as Governor of Vermont, requested that Burbank continue the functions of the secretary's office while remaining as deputy; she agreed. [6] In October, Gibson appointed Burbank to fill the Secretary's position, [6] and she served until January, 1949. [7] Burbank spent several weeks in the hospital at the end of 1947 and beginning of 1948, [8] [9] and declined to be a candidate for Secretary of State in the 1948 election. [10]

In 1948, Republican Howard E. Armstrong ran successfully for Secretary of State. [11] Upon succeeding Burbank in January, 1949, Armstrong reappointed Burbank as Deputy Secretary of State. [7] She continued to serve as deputy until December, 1965. [12]

In 1964, Harry H. Cooley was elected as part of that year's nationwide Democratic landslide and became the first Democrat to win the Secretary of State's post. [13] He took office in January, 1965; [13] in December, he decided to employ a deputy of his own choosing, and relieved Burbank of her duties. [12] She was subsequently employed by the Vermont Legislative Council. [14] Burbank was mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of State in 1966; [15] she remained active in Republican politics as a local and county committee member and delegate to party conventions, but made no effort to run. [16] [17]

In 1968, Republican Richard C. Thomas won the Secretary of State's position. [18] He employed Armstrong and Burbank on a consulting basis at the start of his eight-year tenure. [18]

Death and burial

In retirement, Burbank continued to reside in Montpelier. [17] She died in Berlin on February 22, 1981. [17] [19] Burbank was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in St. Johnsbury. [19]




  • American Women: The Official Who's Who Among the Women of the Nation. 1–3. Los Angeles, CA: Richard Blank Publishing Company. 1935. p. 127.



Political offices
Preceded by
Rawson C. Myrick
Secretary of State of Vermont
Succeeded by
Howard E. Armstrong