American Historical Theatre
The American Historical Theatre (AHT) is a 501(c)(3) organization. Our Actor/Historians educate, entertain and inspire through Living History. For more than 25 years, our first person interpreters have encouraged audience members to encounter and interact with history, developing empathy and underscoring the role of choice.
AHT offers hundreds of well-known historical characters, stock and custom written scripts, plays and programs. AHT also presents professional training sessions for actors and docents alike. AHT brings historical theatre to the world; art centers and colleges, historic sites and museums, special events, celebrations and promotions. Schools and other educational and cultural institutions also benefit from AHT’s singular dedication to the fine art of historical interpretation
Recent AHT performances and presentations include The Women of President Washington’s Household, commissioned by Independence National Historical Parks for the re-dedication of the Deshler-Morris House; My Dear Mrs. Lincoln, for the Lincoln 200 celebration, performed outdoors at Independence Mall; The Handoff, in honor of President Obama’s inauguration, performed in Congress Hall; On Fire For Liberty, commissioned by the White House, performed in the East Room; and the UNESCO panel featuring Abraham Lincoln, presented in Paris.
AHT has a proud tradition of civic engagement that includes Mad Anthony Wayne Days in Wayne, PA; and Trenton’s annual Patriots Week events. AHT is the natural choice for launching new concepts and for putting a face to initiatives that seek public awareness and understanding.
Contact Information: 215-625-0986
This group offers the following characters:
- Abigail Adams
- John Adams (Doyle)
- John Bartram
- Colonial Woman
- James Forten
- Benjamin Franklin (Ochester)
- Benjamin Franklin (Robling)
- Alexander Hamilton
- John Hancock
- Ned Hector
- Patrick Henry (Gleason)
- Patrick Henry (Thomas)
- General William Howe
- Thomas Jefferson
- Henry Knox
- Marquis de Lafayette (Barnieu)
- Marquis de Lafayette (Goldman)
- Dolley Madison (Michaels)
- Robert McGillvraie
- Thomas Paine (Gleason)
- Thomas Paine (Gulick)
- Charles Willson Peale
- William Penn (Gleason)
- William Penn (Gulick)
- William Penn (Thomas)
- Molly Pitcher
- David Rittenhouse
- Betsy Ross
- Benjamin Rush
- Annis Boudinot Stockton
- Gilbert Stuart
- Baron von Steuben (Gleason)
- Baron von Steuben (Ochester)
- George Washington (Lopes)
- George Washington (Malissa)
- Martha Washington (Jordan)
- Martha Washington (Spacht)
- Phillis Wheatley
- James Wilson
- John Witherspoon
Governor Livingston, I Presume
Born in New York (1723) Livingston, a graduate of Yale, went into law, but after years in New York politics, he and his family moved to Elizabethtown where they built an estate (Liberty Hall). Returned to politics by the Revolutionary War, he was a member of the first and second Continental Congresses. In 1776, he left Congress to command the New Jersey militia, and later that year he was elected the first governor of our state. Livingston spurred New Jersey’s rapid ratification of the Constitution, conducted agricultural experiments, and was also active in the anti-slavery movement.
Hercules: Culinary Artist – Free at Last
Flamboyant, and larger than life, Hercules was George Washington’s talented chef in Mount Vernon, New York and in Philadelphia. As gifted as any chef in the colonies, Hercules was a popular and prominent figure inside and outside of the Washington household. Because of his special talents, this slave was afforded many privileges: keeping the profits from the sale of left-over food, being able to walk around freely with his gold-handled cane, and the opportunity to dress extravagantly for his station. Hercules worked the system, and succeeding in living life as much on his own terms as possible. One day, he left the Washington’s, never to be found; once master of the kitchen, now master of his own destiny!
Oney Judge: Runaway Slave
A dower slave owned by the estate of Martha Washington’s first husband, Oney Judge, worked for President and Lady Washington, first in the New York City capital, and later in Philadelphia. Though Pennsylvania Law gave slaves the legal power to free themselves after six months in residence, Washington’s position was that Pennsylvania was only temporarily the capital, so the law was not applicable to his household. When Oney learned that Martha Washington intended to offer her as a wedding present to her granddaughter, and that her transfer back to the south was imminent, Oney made a plan of escape. She traveled north to New Hampshire and lived as a fugitive for 52 years. This strong, capable woman never regretted her actions, and is quoted as saying, “No, I am free and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.”
Celebrate Law Day, or constitution day, or other civic event with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or one of the many other great legal minds and founders of American history. Debate programs between founders (Jefferson, Hamilton and Adams) available.
Colonial crafters and tradesmen for demonstration programs or for hands-on: Bobbin Lace, Quilling, Weaving, White-smithy, Candle-making and more.
A Day in the Life of a Soldier
A program detailing the day to day life of the rank and file, throughout the various battles. Audiences get to see firsthand 18th Century reproduction items which would make up a soldier’s kit and weapon.
Contact Information: [email protected]; 908-757-0038
The War Man
Author Bob Mayers is available to speak and sign books. He has slide presentation that can be customized to focus on local events in the war that occurred in the immediate area of the League member. He has had several N.J. appearances, including the NJ American Revolution Round table in Morristown where he had a very enthusiastic audience of about one hundred.
David Veasey is a life-long New Jersey resident and has given illustrated talks all over the state. Veasey lives in Morris Plains, graduated from Drew University, Madison, and holds a Master’s degree from New York University. Veasey has worked as a writer his entire career. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Military History and Naval History Magazines, as well as in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. His latest book is titled, New Jersey’s Colonial Architecture Told in 100 Buildings.
Contact Information: 973-538-0723 or [email protected]
Culinary Historian Deborah Peterson has over 34 Years of Colonial Domestic Skills Research & Sharing Experience. She has a vast array of program offerings that include chocolate, tea, spices, ice cream, clothing, language barriers for the colonial cooking era, seasonal foodways, etc. Below is a list of some of the programs she is offering in 2018.
Contact Information: email address- [email protected] and phone number 215-256-9399
Breaking Through Language Barriers Encountered by Period Cooks
The focus of this PowerPoint presentation helps today’s cooks understand colonial language shifts from 18th century to the modern day. It can be daunting to interpret period cookbooks, diaries, letters, journals, almanacs, and newspapers. Add to that the use of unfamiliar words, terms, punctuation, measurements, punctuation, and often difficult handwriting, and the challenge becomes even greater. A hand-out is supplied.
Explore how sugar-plums got their name! This PowerPoint program is a delightful prelude to Christmas planning. Some tastes and receipts (recipes) will be supplied.
Coffee, Chocolate, Tea, Spices, and Many Other Items too Tedious to Mention: 18c Imports into the Colonies
This PowerPoint program covers imports into the colonies as coffee, chocolate, imported and patriotic teas, spices, sugar, salts, peppers, food colorants, isinglass, hartshorn, gums, leavenings, oils, pickles, sweetmeats, syrups, jellies, rose and orange-flower waters and many, many other items that were part of our nation’s imported foods. A hand-out is supplied.
Hands–on Hearth Cooking Demonstrations and Classes, tailored to your needs, are also available.
Click to view more programs offered in 2018 by Deborah Peterson.
Donald J. Peck
Author Donald J. Peck is a trustee for the League of New Jersey Historical Societies; immediate Past President of the Raritan-Millstone Heritage Alliance, Inc., Somerset, New Jersey; past Commissioner for the Woodbridge Historic Preservation Commission, Woodbridge, New Jersey; Life Member (since 1972) of the Proprietary House Association, Perth Amboy, New Jersey and since 2003 President Emeritus having served on that Board of Directors for 18 years and for three non-consecutive terms as president, and as board member of the Museums of Perth Amboy.
A direct descendant of six signers of the Mayflower Compact, active memberships include The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New Jersey and several state and national historical organizations. A direct descendant of East Jersey proprietors Sir George Scott and Dr. John Johnstone, he is the author of A Spirited War – George Washington and the Ghosts of the Revolution in Central New Jersey, An American Journey of Hope and several monographs including Perth Amboy the Port City on Raritan Bay.
Contact Information: residence 732-738-1165, office 732-738-1165 email [email protected].
September 11, 1776
Most Americans are aware that since September 11, 2001, their lives have never been the same. The same can be said for September 11, 1776, the date of the only face-to-face official meeting of the British and the Americans during the entire American Revolutionary War. “September 11, 1776” provides a fresh analysis of the event that took place, along with an explanation of the personalities involved in it. You are invited to take an in-depth tour of Central New Jersey’s most important Revolutionary War sites in his new book, A SPIRITED WAR-George Washington and the Ghosts of the Revolution in Central New Jersey.
Doug Aumack is the Assistant Curator of New Jersey and Local History for the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission. He has expertise in compilation, evaluation and presentation of highly complex data in interactive, dynamic and engaging multi-media formats. Award-winning writer of New Jersey History, consultant for Discovery Science Channel documentary, advisor and strategist for “Legal History of New Jersey” exhibit, and producer of “UnCommon History” series of iTunes podcasts. He is an expert in a variety of Colonial and Revolutionary War Era topics and is available for lectures and speaking engagements.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto
Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto is a frequent public speaker and media commentator on church history and contemporary Catholicism. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post and has appeared on The History Channel, CNN, MSNBC, PBS’ News Hour, and NPR. He is also a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
During and immediately after college, he worked in journalism, including a period at Newsweek magazine. He taught English at his alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, N.Y. before entering graduate school at Fordham University. He was then a church history professor at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) and its Institute of Religious Studies in Yonkers, N.Y., where he also served as the Institute’s Associate Dean.
Contact Information: cbe[email protected]
Ancient Greece and Rome Meet Revolutionary New Jersey
Explore the Liberty Hall archives and early American newspapers to discover how John Kean, first cashier of the U.S. Bank, and William Livingston, New Jersey’s first governor, turned to classical Greece and Rome for inspiration. Our search reveals how revolutionary Americans charting a new nation’s future wrapped themselves in the mantle of a great ancient past.
Dr. Richard Veit
Historical archaeologist and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Monmouth University
Contact Information: [email protected]
Stranger Stop and Cast an Eye: Four Centuries of NJ Cemeteries and Gravemarkers
An illustrated look at our state’s historic burial grounds from the 1600s to the present day. The author of “Digging New Jersey’s Past: Historical Archaeology in the Garden State” and co-author of “New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape” examines Native American and colonial grave markers, the rise of the cemetery, Victorian commemorative practices and other memorial traditions. Unusual and even humorous grave markers found in modern cemeteries will also be included in this fascinating presentation.
Patriots, Tories, Inebriates, and Hussies: Unearthing the History of the Abraham Staats House
This lecture will uncover details of the Staats’ family history through the Revolutionary War, the arrival of turnpike roads, the construction of the D&R Canal, and the emancipation of slaves
Dr. Robert Selig
Pre-eminent author of all things “Washington-Rochambeau” will be available in 2016 for a few speaking engagements. Contact Dr. Selig if you are interested in scheduling him for a talk.
Contact Information: [email protected]
He is a member of the Camp Olden Round Table and founding member of the 6th Regiment United States Colored Troops. He is also a reenactor with the Old Barracks Museum.
Contact Information: 609-396-1776
Oh Freedom! Slavery in New Jersey During the American Revolution
This talk addresses the topic of slavery during the American Revolution.
Glenn W. LeBoeuf is a lifelong student of military history. A graduate of Monmouth University, he taught social studies for several years before becoming a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor with Garden State Securities, Inc. in Red Bank, N.J. He is an active ‘living historian’ with the 3rd N.J. Vol. Infantry ( www.3rdnj.org ) and has helped organize and run the largest civil war reenactment ever held near Gettysburg in 1998 with over 22,000 participants. Glenn is also a noted authority on the life and character of Abraham Lincoln and is a sought after speaker by law firms, historical societies and library associations. He lives in the Atlantic Highlands N.J.
Contact Information: [email protected]; 908-938-5518
The Military Career of George Washington
Educated only until he was eleven, at 20 years of age, George Washington, the wealthy Virginia militiaman, began a 33 year military career amidst the turmoil of the ‘French & Indian War’ ( 7 Year’s War ) where the bitter and deadly lessons of ambush, betrayals, desertions & disease, were harshly taught first hand. Losing more battles than he won during the American Revolution, his personal dedication to the cause of independence helped galvanize those officers and men in his command. In victory as well as defeat…his courage, stamina, luck, tolerance, intellect and decisiveness under fire built his reputation.
Come hear the story of the ‘indispensable man’ who, during 8 long years of war…single handedly kept the flame of independence flickering in the darkest days of the Revolutionary War.
“The Crossing”…1776: How Gen. George Washington’s desperate gambles at Trenton & Princeton saved America
Gone were the ‘sunshine patriots’ of 1775. By the winter of 76’…Washington’s cold, hungry and poorly clothed army that once numbered around 33,000 dwindled to around 4,500 by December after several defeats on Long Island, Harlem Heights and Ft. Lee. Many politicians were calling for Washington’s replacement. But the men who remained with Washington through these bitter defeats and the rapid retreat across New Jersey to the relative safety of Pennsylvania were committed to the cause of independence and willing to suffer for that noble cause. He would lead them back…across the river…to attack.
Come hear the stories of these brave men…and the many political, logistic, geographical and tactical challenges they faced. Above all, come to hear about the man who led them; the man who these volunteers had taken the measure of over many months of battles, defeats and retreats. He was not giving up. They would not abandon this cause….or this man.
Contact Information: Gordon Bond, 908-352-0313; 908-477-6908; [email protected]
James Parker on the Eve of the Revolution
Gordon Bond discusses the life of James Parker, the first printer in New Jersey.
Gordon Thomas Ward
Welcome to the Past
Immerse yourself in this entertaining and informative evening of tales, songs, poetry, and ghost stories about our history. This timeless, multimedia presentation celebrates the layers of history in our landscapes, especially the local history of Somerset/Morris/Hunterdon Counties including the Lenape, the NJ Encampment at Jockey Hollow during the Revolutionary War, farming, industry, and the “landed gentry.” In brilliant detail, Mr. Ward both entertains and illustrates the signatures we leave behind us and celebrates the geographies of our lives.
Gateway to History
Celebrated authors and presenters Dr. Jude M. Pfister and Gordon Thomas Ward will present different perspectives on the era of the American Revolution as it relates to the Morristown area. First, Dr. Jude M. Pfister (author of The Jacob Ford Jr. Mansion and The Fords of New Jersey) will discuss the Ford family of Morris County, New Jersey, along with their mansion in Morristown. Both the Ford Family and their home participated in and witnessed some of the most trying times of the first century of the American pageant. The multi-layered family history is tangibly represented in the multi-floored and memory-laden mansion, which stands to this day as a testament to the passage of time and the enduring power of place. Following this, Gordon Thomas Ward (author of local history books A Bit of Earth and Ghosts of Central Jersey) will discuss the 1779-1780 encampment of the New Jersey Brigade in Jockey Hollow and their encampment site, which was discovered in the 1960s. He will also entertain you with several, seldom-told ghost stories connected with local historic sites from the time of the American Revolution. Projected photos will complement the entire presentation.
Story-Songs of History
Audiences adore this evocative presentation of original songs and their inspiring stories celebrating the rich histories and secreted tales of our shared past. Many of the songs Gordon performs are from his CD Welcome to the Past. Presented in brilliant detail, Mr. Ward uses a “behind the music” format combining enchanting anecdotes, vocals, and a multi-instrumental accompaniment to transport listeners on a captivating journey through various time periods and historic events including the Revolutionary War, the Civil Way, railroads in NJ, Trail of Tears, the Lenape, Robert Frost, and more!
Ghosts I’ve Come to Know
Did you ever wonder what’s on the other side? As a well-respected investigator of ghosts and hauntings for forty years and an author on the topic, Mr. Ward has developed a distinctive approach and body of evidence to support the belief in the survival of the human consciousness after death. This program includes new photos, audio recordings, developing theories, and information collected from his favorite, historic, investigation sites. This presentation will leave you with a fresh perspective on what happens us all after the transition we call death.
Historic Haunts of Central Jersey
What ghosts roam within the historic sites and buildings of central New Jersey? How accurate are the traditional stories? From the shadowed woods of the Somerset Hills to the dappled banks of the Delaware River, Historic Haunts delivers a rich mix of factual history and the sound investigation of ghostly phenomena. This presentation also mixes in numerous PowerPoint Photos of investigation sites and audio clips of unexplained voices. The combination of an open-minded enthusiasm and a level-headed approach underscores this collection of reports that will inform, entertain, and lead audience members to places where the past is considered to be very much alive and entwined with the present.
History on the Hoof
An educational performance troupe that employs storytelling, roleplay, displays, and music to illustrate historical topics. Stacy Roth and David Emerson offer a variety of their own separate programs as well as programs done together.
Roth is an interpreter, museum educator, historian, and information specialist who has performed and presented for museums, libraries, schools, civic organizations, and festivals throughout the area. Emerson has worked at living history museums for over 25 years as an independent storyteller, teaching history through the eyes of a “person of the past.” He is a veteran of Colonial Williamsburg, Plimoth Plantation, Morristown National Historical Park, and the Old Barracks Museum. They will appear in period costumes.
Contact Information: Stacy F. Roth / B. David Emerson, P.O. Box 421, Burlington, NJ 08016;
609-239-2706 voicemail; [email protected]
Stacy Roth’s Programs–
Revolutionary Tea: An 18th Century Tea Experience
Why was tea so important in the lives of 18th-century people that fashion-conscious families posed for portraits with their tea sets? Did Great Britain lose her American Colonies over “the cup that cheers?” Find out in this unusual costumed presentation of tea lore, history, songs, poetry, living history display and demonstration.
Over Here, Molly Pitcher
A dramatic presentation highlighting the lives of women who “belonged to the army” during the American Revolution. “Molly” reminisces about the days when she accompanied her husband through summer battles and winter encampments from Valley Forge to Monmouth to Morristown. Relating her tales of firing a cannon in the heat of battle to trudging “behind the baggage,” she provides a glimpse into what it was like to be a “camp follower” in the days when American independence was a dream rather a certainty.
The Distaff Muse
What qualities define the 18th Century Woman? Virtue? Piety? Gentility? Spirit? Wit? Fortitude? Resignation? Passion? Historical interpreter Stacy F. Roth explores the private thoughts and popular image of women of the 18th century through songs, quotations, poetry and prose. In this unique presentation from a revolving repertoire, audiences will visit with humble heroines, brave Amazons, wise wits, and warriors in disguise. Come, be amused with the distaff muse.
Colonial Frolick: Early American Songs, Singing Games and More
Stacy Roth and music therapist/trumpeter Flora Newberry present their favorite rhymes, riddles, rounds, ditties, instruments, and dances from the 17th to early 19th centuries. Lots of audience participation. For kids, their parents, and their grandparents!
Good Old Colony Times
A humorous and perhaps occasionally sober look at issues that fascinated folks of Early America. Join historical interpreter and balladeer Stacy Roth for songs and anecdotes celebrating love, courtship, marriage, sex, work, current events, and politics in the 17th and 18th centuries. This program can be customized to various themes: all American Revolution, all humorous songs, etc. Presented in the attire of the age!
Fife and Drum
Revolutionary War and general repertoire available for festivals, event openings, etc.
David Emerson’s Programs–
*David was featured as George Washington in New Jersey Network’s “Ten Crucial Days.”
Christmas and Midwinter Stories
Anecdotes about the origins of holiday customs, the Victorian “invention” of modern Christmas, the popularity of the Christmas tree, and traditional tales about “the most wonderful time of the year” are among the topics presented by David in an hour of holiday storytelling.
George Washington for your Celebration
David Emerson portrays the Revolutionary War General for special events. Horse optional. David has been customizing his interpretation to the needs of 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution commemorations. He has appeared as “His Excellency” at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, & Monmouth, the Middlebrook encampment, and more.
…and six and two-thirds dollars per month on account of pay
The founding fathers fought for freedom, the officers for honor; but what motivated the common soldier? Historical interpreter David Emerson, as recruiting Sergeant David MacCaffrey, presents an enlisted man’s-eye view of the American Revolution.
The Lure and Lore o Liquor: Tavern Beverages of the American Revolution
Many people know that our Revolution was fomented in the famous taverns of Colonial America – City Tavern of Philadelphia, Boston’s Green Dragon, and the Raleigh in Williamsburg. But other than politics, what was fueling the debates between the Sons of Liberty or the Virginia Burgesses? Join historian and mixologist (yes, indeed) David Emerson in a lively exploration of Colonial drinking customs. The talk will include discussion of the various types of beverages available to the 18th Century tavern tippler, how they were made, and even some recipes that you can try on your own (if you dare). Discover our forefathers’ alternative to the modern Mojito and Martini, and what Ben Franklin considered “The Proof of God’s Love.”
Meet Benjamin Franklin
Walkaround and meet and greet character for special events, festivals, and more
Stacy Roth and David Emerson Programs–
Legends and Lore of the Winter Holidays
Join Interpreters Stacy Roth and Dave Emerson as they conjure the ghosts of Christmases past. Hear the traditional songs and stories, learn of archaic customs and carols and discover how the Victorians in general — and three authors in particular — revitalized and reinvented our favorite holiday. A veritable cornucopia of holiday treats certain to delight the entire family.
Christmas Carols * Tavern Songs * Songs of the Sea: Spiced Punch
Quartet with David, Stacy, and musicians and puppeteers Tom & Marianne Tucker. Costumed performance of Victorian (and earlier) Christmas Songs, Colonial Tavern Ditties, and Sea Songs of all periods — in appropriate historical dress. Our programs can include anecdotes and introductions of musical selections, if desired.
Contact Information: Jim Kurzenberger, manager of the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage New Jersey State Historic Sites, Somerville; 908-725-1015
Middlebrook: A Comprehensive Look
This lecture provides an overview and provocative look at the cantonment of the American Army in 1778-1779.
John Burkhalter III
Independent scholar and lecturer
Contact information: [email protected]
Tuneful Felicity: Francis Hopkinson and Musick
Francis Hopkinson is best known as an ardent patriot, one of New Jersey’s Five Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Delegate in 1778 to the Continental Congress and later an active member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Like his friends Franklin and Jefferson, music and the social harmony it engendered held pride of place. Hopkinson, who maintained residences in Philadelphia and Bordentown, was a proficient harpsichordist and is credited as the first native born composer in America. The program will survey Hopkinson’s musical world and will draw specifically on printed music he is known to have purchased in Philadelphia and from London publishers and from his ca. 1764 manuscript volume of music for [or arranged for] the harpsichord.
Musical Life in Colonial Williamsburg
In 18th-century Williamsburg the study of music was a subject of serious interest and social refinement. Harpsichords and other musical instruments were imported for Williamsburg’s town houses and nearby plantations. The presentation will be based on one of the most important Colonial music inventories known, that of “Mr. Ogle, musick master lately arrived in Williamsburg from London.”
Mr. Jefferson and His Music
Polymath Thomas Jefferson, the “Sage of Monticello” was ardent in his devotion to music. Jefferson owned numerous instruments imported from London and an extraordinary collection of printed music. He believed that music was indispensable to the fabric of culture and civilization in fact “a most delightful recreation.” A brief illustrated lecture will be complemented with a performance of music drawn from Mr. Jefferson’s 1783 inventory of musical holdings.
Dr. Jonathan Mercantini is an Associate Professor of History at Kean University. Among his major publications are: Who Shall Rule at Home: The Evolution of South Carolina’s Political Culture, 1748-1776 (Univ. South Carolina Press, 2007) and essays on slavery in South Carolina and New Jersey. He has received external grants to support his research on the history of New Jersey and of South Carolina in the 18th include editing an online edition of the Papers of John and Susan Kean and a number of papers and museum exhibits on various aspects of the Kean family relating to the history of South Carolina, New Jersey and America. Dr. Mercantini is also preparing an original essay for the celebration of the 250thJersey Historical Commission to plan activities for the 350th and 19th Centuries. His current research projects Anniversary of the Stamp Act Crisis. He also co-authored scripts for It Happened Here – New Jersey a weekly series featured on Public TV and online throughout NJ’s 350th anniversary year.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Colonial New Jersey from Contact to Revolution
The first part of the talk will explore the creation of ‘New Jersey’ including the development of East and West Jersey and the origins of some of the state’s most distinctive features that remain today. We will then examine the state’s growth as a center for agricultural development and as a key transportation network; we will also consider tensions surrounding land ownership and taxation on the eve of revolution.
- Colonial and Victorian Christmas Customs
- History of English Tea
- Tea and the Language of Flowers and Fans
- Apples – Dumplings, Cider and Jack
- Early American Beverages
- Root Cellars and Ice Houses
- Remedies from the Kitchen
- Favorite Foods and Libations of Presidential Families
Larry Kidder is the coordinator of the Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors project of the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area and editor of the book, Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors, recently published by Crossroads. He is the author of A People Harassed and Exhausted, about the New Jersey militia in the Revolution, and is currently working on a book about Trenton and its citizens in the Revolution.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Experiencing the American Revolution in New Jersey
New Jersey is often called the Crossroads of the American Revolution because so many of its events took place here. New Jersey was under constant threat of attack from the British army that occupied New York City throughout the war and it was also the scene of a civil war among its citizens. This illustrated talk focuses on the biographies of a number of New Jersey men, women, and children from various ethnic groups and walks of life in different parts of the state that show how the Revolution impacted individual lives in a wide variety of ways.
Liberty Hall Museum
The Liberty Hall Museum offers several programs. There is no charge for any of them, but if the organization would like to make a donation to the museum, it is welcome.
Contact Information: Bill Schroh, Jr., Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University at [email protected] or call 908-527-0400
Residents of Liberty Hall
Beginning with William Livingston, New Jersey’s first elected governor, and ending with its last resident, Mary Alice Barney Kean, museum educators will describe the fascinating history of Liberty Hall as told through the lives of its occupants.
Tales of the Presidents
Sid Frank, author of The Presidents: Tidbits & Trivia, will chat about the fascinating and little-known tales of our nation’s leaders. Learn the interesting facts NOT found in our history books.
Ladies of Liberty Hall
From Susan Livingston, daughter of Governor Livingston, whose daring exploits saved Liberty Hall from the British during the Revolutionary War, to Mary Alice Kean who worked tirelessly for the preservation of our historic structures, Livingston and Kean women have played an important role in the history of our community. This lively talk describes two hundred years of contributions by the Ladies of Liberty Hall.
Gardens of Liberty Hall
Liberty Hall Museum’s 23 beautifully landscaped acres, which were designed so that plants are blooming from April to first frost, are evidence of a more than 200-year-old tradition of the Livingston/Kean family that began with Governor Livingston. This speech, which includes a video presentation, interweaves the history of the gardens with the life and times of the remarkable people who lived at Liberty Hall.
James Caldwell: The Death of the Fighting Parson
James Caldwell was a minister, a chaplain in Geroge Washington’s army, and Washington’s assistant commissary general. He was known as the Fighting parson because of his contribution to the American victory at the Battle of Springfield in the Revoluntionary War. The noted American author Bret Harte heard about what the Fighting Parson had done at the Battle of Springfield and was so moved that he wrote a poem about Caldwell’s actions there. This poem is also included in the presentation on James Caldwell and his life.
Contact Information: 8102 Bay Terrace, Harvey Cedars NJ 08008; [email protected] 609-494-1263 or 609-709-4279
Celebrating the Jersey Shore
PowerPoint slideshow and readings from Shore Chronicles: Diaries and Traveler’s Tales from the Jersey Shore 1764-1955 and Island Album: Photographs and Memories of Long Beach Island. Travel with me “down the shore” as I illustrate the shore experience over the decades. Here are stories and pictures of sailing and fishing, of treks by horse, stagecoach, train and car, of beach camping, lifeguards and coastal rescue, of bathing beauties in rented woolen suits and flappers, of violent storms and the endless struggle to resist a hungry sea. Writing by such well-known figures as John J. Audubon, Walt Whitman, Robert Louis Stevenson, Stephen Crane and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is included. But, perhaps most interesting are the selections from private journals, letters, and diaries from unknowns vacationing or visiting the shore.
New Jersey Shipwrecks
A slide show and reading from the dramatic New Jersey Shipwrecks: 350 Years in the Graveyard of the Atlantic takes us on a gripping voyage through the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” — a name bestowed upon the state’s treacherous shoals and inlets. Before this coastline became a summer playground of second homes and resort beaches, it was a wild frontier of uninhabited and shifting sandbars. From the days of sail to steam and oil, ships (and even submarines) have been drawn to this coast. And for thousands of vessels, it became their final resting place. I explore this history, along with the development of the U.S. Coast Guard from its 1848 origin as the Lifesaving Service, through illustrations, photographs, and readings from the harrowing memories of survivors and observers. I bring my audience into the storm-tossed surf. We are caught in the swirling wreck-filled waters, and fires of maritime disasters like the Morro Castle, and come away with a sense of shared survival as well as respect for the brave heroes and lost souls of this book.
Dr. Nancy Loane, a former seasonal park ranger at Valley Forge National Historical Park, is a recognized authority on Valley Forge and the women at the 1777-78 Valley Forge encampment. She is the author of several articles about the women at camp as well as the critically acclaimed book, Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment (Potomac Books,2009). Described as “truly one of the great books on the Valley Forge encampment,” “not to be missed,” and “thoroughly researched and a compelling read,” Following the Drum received the American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia’s “Best Book of the Year An outstanding speaker, Nancy has presented more than 175 talks in eight states (including at the Library of Congress and Colonial Williamsburg) on the women at the Valley Forge encampment, Martha Washington, and the Valley Forge encampment itself. Her fascinating, fun, fact-filled talks—all thoroughly grounded in primary research—bring history to life.
Nancy Loane, who has participated in four archaeological digs at Valley Forge National Historical Park, is a board member of The Friends of Valley Forge Park, an honorary life-time member of the Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, a member of the DAR, and a founding member of the American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia. A former Pennsylvania Commonwealth Speaker, she has appeared on several radio shows and on cable network shows, including C-Span and Pennsylvania Cable Network. Nancy was also featured on C-Span’s series on the first ladies, where she discussed Martha Washington’s role at Valley Forge.
Contact Information: 610-415-9247 or [email protected]
“Present But Not Accounted For: Women at the 1777-1778 Valley Forge Encampment”
More than 400 women—and some exceptional ladies—were encamped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. Much has been written about the Valley Forge winter and of Washington’s fortitude there, of the remarkable remodeling of the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778, and of the suffering of the men. But little has been said about the women of, and with, the Continental Army.
In this presentation you’ll learn about the women—and ladies—of the Valley Forge encampment. Meet the officers’ wives who traveled hundreds of miles from their comfortable homes to be with their husbands. Meet the wives and mothers of the enlisted soldiers and volunteers, women who often followed the army because they literally had nowhere else to go. The stories of General Washington’s cook and housekeeper will surprise you, too. Through this presentation and the women at the encampment, you will learn of a Valley Forge that you probably never even knew existed.
“Beneath the Snow: Myths and Oddities of the Valley Forge Encampment”
For many, “Valley Forge” is synonymous with snow, George Washington, and soldiers dressed in rags huddled around open fires. While this is true, the iconic 1777-78 Valley Forge encampment is also “Beneath the Snow” looks at soldiers’ comments about the weather in the letters, journals, and diaries of the time and then asks the question: what was the weather really like during the Valley Forge winter? General Washington wrote in a letter from camp that his soldiers were naked and starving—but were they? We’ll also discuss Christmas dinner at Washington’s headquarters, talk about another indispensable man at camp, and discover that fighting did take place at the encampment.
“The Surprising Martha Washington”
She’s commonly thought of as rather frumpy, and, while with the Continental Army, as a woman who spent considerable time visiting soldiers and knitting stockings and mittens for the men. But the truth about Lady Washington is far more interesting. This Virginia lady was a spiffy dresser, assertive, and definitely a woman of independent means. Martha Washington followed her man and loved her family, and her various activities at the encampments of the Revolutionary War and during the presidential years will delight you—and possibly surprise you, too.
“Love Letters from Valley Forge”
The soldiers at the Valley Forge encampment of 1777-1778 were determined, courageous soldiers. Many of them were also lonesome, as beloved wives and cherished families had been left behind. Much information about Valley Forge can be gained from reading the letters of the men at camp to their families. From the letters we learn about what worried the men, of their health concerns, something about their huts, and about clothing and food supplies at camp. The men also poignantly write of loneliness, and their feelings about General Washington. Through these letters to home, you will get a first-hand glimpse of life in camp. You will also, in a personal way, get to know the soldiers of the Continental Army and begin to appreciate their sacrifice and dedication. These were not cookie-cutter soldiers, but flesh-and-blood men who loved their country and loved their families and were willing to sacrifice all until, as one soldier wrote, “death will part us.”
NJ History Alive
“New Jersey History Alive” is known for providing engaging programs that bring Colonial history education into the present day. All programs focus on significant historical elements in a creative and interconnected manner.
- Content-rich educational programs
- Interactive and engaging fun
- Enjoyable presentations
- Age-appropriate, pre-school through elders
To educate a diverse community about the significance of New Jersey’s past and its relationship to our lives today.
Contact Information: [email protected]
A Child’s Life
Enlightening and interactive comparisons of colonial and modern life conveyed by our costumed interpreter with unique show-and-tell artifacts!
Discover fascinating inventions that aided Colonists in their daily lives. Through active learning methods our knowledgeable costumed interpreter will present engaging curiosities!
NJ Revolutionary Neighbors
Connecting New Jersey’s Colonial neighbors and today’s students through interactive experiences with our costumed interpreter in sync with
Pat Sanftner has a thirty-year carrier in costuming in show business, and taught in the theater department of Marymount Manhattan College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Earlham College, Richmond Indiana, and a Master of Fine Arts from NYU School of the Arts, She has been the Curator of collections and head docent at Schuyler-Hamilton House for a number of years, finding herself, much to her surprise an authority on Alexander Hamilton.
Contact Information: [email protected]
The Love Story of Betsy Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton
Young Alexander Hamilton
Contact Information: Rick Geffken, Shrewsbury Historical Society, rickgØ[email protected] and website: http://livinghistorynj.com/
Founding Family: The Lewis Morrises of Monmouth County
A presentation featuring newly discovered letters, drawings, and maps outlining the vast influence of the Morris Family in New Jersey from 1675 through 1800. Entrepreneurs, politicians, Lords Manor, farmers, soldiers, religious leaders, attorneys, Loyalists and Patriots – the Morris Family were all these and more in the colonial and early national times of New Jersey and the Middle Atlantic States.
First Voyage of Discovery – The 1663 English Purchase of Monmouth County Lands from the Lenape
Often overlooked, this English settlers’ journey from Gravesende (Brooklyn) to the Rensallaer’s Pier (today’s Highlands) led directly to the famous Monmouth Patent. This PowerPoint will outline their hazardous route, negotiations with the Indians, and confrontations with the ruling Dutch.
The Quaker Migration to Monmouth County in the 17th Century
A discussion and visual presentation describing how a small number of adherents to an emerging religion affected colonial New Jersey society. Established in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, more than 350 years, the Society of Friends continues to thrive there today.
Contact Information: 732-236-6434
Hunterdon County: December 17, 1775
This talk depicts life in Hunterdon during that fateful period leading up to the Battle of Trenton and the role Hunterdon County played. He speaks of the immigrants and commerce of the rural area and describes the troop movement and displays his collection of old currency.
The Fifes and Drums of the Old Barracks
The Fifes & Drums of the Old Barracks are a group of musicians who perform late 18th-century music that would have been performed by a military corps of music during the Revolutionary War. Beyond their well-researched repertoire of colonial music, their uniforms are those that would have been worn by the musicians of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment. Four of the eight companies of this regiment were raised at the Trenton barracks in December of 1775. The Fife & Drum Corps made their debut at the Old Barracks Association’s 2004 Capital Ball. Comprised of middle and high school students and professional musicians from the Trenton area, they have been organized and trained under the direction of Stephen Hudak, Andrew Wierzbowski, John Lane, James Fultz, and Timothy Ross.
They are available to perform at events.
Contact Information: Stephen Hudak at [email protected] or call 609-396-1776
Todd Braisted is a life-long resident of Bergen County, New Jersey. An acknowledged expert in the field of Loyalist studies and local Revolutionary War History, he serves as Honorary Vice President of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada and a past president of the Bergen County Historical Society. He is likewise a Fellow in the Company of Military Historians and has served as chairman of their West Point Chapter.
Todd’s studies have taken him across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom researching the American Revolution. Using mostly little known or obscure primary research, his work is known for bringing new information to light, and heavily relying on the people of their time telling their stories in their own words. This is heavily reflected in his latest work, “Bergen County Voices from the American Revolution” (History Press, 2012.)
In addition to books and journal articles, Todd lectures frequently across North America and appears as a guest historian on such shows as “Who Do You Think You Are” and “History Detectives.”
Contact Information: [email protected]
Tom Ainsworth is a Military History Specialist. Raised in a Military family he became immersed in and enthralled by our Nation’s History.He spent 20 years as a Civil War Reenactor living both Union and Confederate impressions.
Contact Information: [email protected]; 201-866-6167
Bloody Footprints in the Snow: The Christmas Miracle at Trenton, 1776
How close to capitulation was Washington’s Army? His depleted “army” was down to 4,000 half starved, unpaid citizen soldiers (from the 24,000 only six months ago). Washington’s desperately bold plan to attack the professional Hessian regulars must succeed or; the new democracy called “The United States of America” would collapse in weeks. Following a night river crossing of the ice flowed Delaware, this army advanced on Trenton. Many lacked bayonets, shoes and even dry powder. How could they succeed against these “Elite” mercenaries from Europe? Who were these Hessians anyway? Why were they in Trenton? How did a staving, beaten rabble rout these professional soldiers? Who were Glover, Ewing, and Cadwalader? What were the results of this seemingly insignificant conflict along the Delaware? This is real story of the “Best American Christmas” ever …1776.
Contact Information: Bill Chemerka, [email protected]; (cell) 973-727-1230
Daniel Morgan: Unsung Hero of the American Revolution
During the American Revolution, New Jersey-born Daniel Morgan rose from the ranks to become a brigadier general. Morgan commanded riflemen during the invasion of Quebec; played an important role in the Saratoga Campaign, the turning point of the war; and won a brilliant victory at Cowpens. Dressed as one of Morgan’s famous Virginia rifleman, Bill Chemerka, traces the life of this remarkable American hero.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Washington in Bergen County: A Week That Changed the Nation
William “Pat” Schuber, formerly Bergen County Executive and currently affiliated with Fairleigh Dickinson University discusses the importance of Washington’s stay in Bergen County.