Week 1 of the 2016 Pre-Collegiate Summer Program

Welcome to the NIAHD blog! For those of you who are not with us—going to the field trips, experiencing Colonial Williamsburg, and discovering all of the glorious facets of history nerddom—this is the chance for you to get a bit of a taste of NIAHD. Written by one of the fearless RPAs, it is my privilege to bring you a glimpse of what our students have been up to this past week.

Arrival S1 2016 (3)             Arrival S1 2016 (2)

After a successful move-in day, the students gathered to play a game that has become part of NIAHD tradition and lore: train wreck. After hearing an overview from the leaders of the program, Dr. Corlett and Dr. Whittenburg, the students were primed and excited for the weeks ahead. So many places to explore! So many stories to hear! So much to read and write!

The Colonial class focused on sites and readings that dealt with the theme of the Brave New World. When those first European stepped off the boats, what thoughts were running through their heads? The Colonial students may too have been pondering these questions when they visited the spot of the original settlement on Jamestown Island on Tuesday. Getting the special treatment that all budding historians deserve, the students were given a tour of the artifact lab. One of the highlights was a replica of Jane’s head (a young woman who was cannibalized during “the starving time” in the winter of 1609-1610). On Wednesday, the students traveled to Werowocomoco. While at first glance Werowocomoco is a field on a picturesque spot on the York River, it was the site of Powhatan’s settlement. Don’t think about Disney’s Pocahontas; our students can give you an earful about how inaccurate that movie truly is (even if “Colors of the Wind” is a great song to break out singing). Thursday brought the students to Jamestown Settlement and the living history museum. Many students enjoyed taking photos in the 17th century armor and exploring the replicas of the three ships that brought John Smith and the other Englishmen to the shores of Virginia. The final field trip on Friday was to Bacon’s Castle, the scene of a 1676 political uprising and the oldest brick dwelling in the United States (built in 1665!). Both the house and the grounds were quite impressive.

The Civil War class focused on the period directly after the American Revolution and questioned how the principles of liberty and equality became defined and enacted (or in many cases ignored). On Tuesday, the students went on their first of many trips to Richmond to visit St. John’s Church. They learned that churches served two very important purposes in early America: as houses of worship and spaces for town meetings. St. John’s is also the site of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech! Wednesday brought the students to the Wren Building at William and Mary (the original college building) and Hot Water (the site of a free slave community in the early 19th century). These two sites gave the students glimpses at two ways in which African Americans fit into American society. On Thursday, the students took the first of a few longer trips and visited the homes of two early U.S. Presidents: James Monroe’s Highland and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The students showed off their acting chops by reading part of Jefferson’s will and also found a new friend at Highland—a cat who wanders the grounds. Friday sent the students down to Norfolk at the home of Moses Myers, a prominent, Jewish commercial trader who was an important member of Norfolk society.

The excitement continues next week with exciting opportunities and a Fourth of July that only Colonial Williamsburg can provide (Red Coats are included). Huzzah!
Article contributed by Emma Rothberg
Published in: on July 3, 2016 at 2:52 pm Comments (0)