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February 28, 2011

Women’s History Month Showcases Roles of Women on Eve of the American Revolution

During Women’s History Month in March, programs in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg tell the stories of the vital roles women played at work, in the home and at war.

Programs include:

  • The Polite Academy, 10:30 a.m., Tuesdays, March 1, 15, 22 and 29 and Thursdays, March 3, 17, 24 and 31, Raleigh Tavern. A woman’s domain was her parlor, and it was there that she spent her time engaged in the skills necessary to be considered an accomplished member of polite society. Tea, poetry, music and dance were part of the world of the 18th-century lady.
  • An Uncommon Soldier, noon Wednesdays, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 and Saturdays, March 5 and 19, Magazine. There were many women who followed the army as wives, nurses, cooks and laundresses. Discover the stories of the few that joined the ranks in disguise!
  • A Lady and Her Music, 10-11:45 a.m., Friday, March 4 and Wednesdays, March 16, 23 and 30, Wythe House. Enjoy the music that enlivened the households of the 18th century. When time permitted, ladies of the middling and better sort could indulge themselves and their families with music on the popular harpsichord/spinet or the English guitar.
  • The Women Who Influenced Martha Washington, 1:30 p.m., Fridays, March 4 and 11, and 12:30 p.m., Mondays, March 21 and 28, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Explore the life of Martha Washington in this multi-media and live performance. Learn about the women throughout her life who helped form Martha Washington into George Washington’s worthy partner.
  • The Art of Beauty: A Lecture, 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. “The Art of Beauty” shows the length both sexes were willing to go for physical perfection. Discover how ladies and gentlemen improved upon nature with cosmetics, powders, perfumes and pomades made from imported and local spices, resins and herbs that claimed magical healing and beautifying properties. The program is based on numerous 18th-century pamphlets and books.
  • “Unbecoming her sex”: Women in Music, 11:45 a.m., Thursdays, March 17, 24 and 31, Raleigh Tavern. Explore the lives of women who took up music as a profession in Europe. Colonial Americans often learned about talented female musicians such as “Seignora Sirmen” and “Miss Davies” from accounts of London performances which were printed in colonial newspapers. Others had music which was published such as Ann Ford or Maria Cosway. Instruments featured will be violin, German flute and English guitar.
  • Freedom to Slavery, 10, 10:30, 11, 11:30 a.m. and noon, Saturday, March 19 and 26, Milliner Shop. Hear the compelling story of Elizabeth, an enslaved African American woman forced back into slavery after living free with the Shawnee Indians on the western frontier. Reservations required.
  • Only Your Hairdresser Knows: The Latest Fashions and News of the Day, 11, 11:20, 11:40 a.m. and noon, Tuesdays, March 22 and 29, Wigmaker Shop. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at wigmaking. Discover the world of women wigmakers and the ladies who wore the wigs that were created.
  • Dyed in the Yarn at the Weaver, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Saturday, March 26, Weave Room. During the American Revolution many of Virginia’s free citizens turned to newly established local cloth producers for their textile needs. Work on Williamsburg’s cloth factory, named appropriately the Williamsburg Manufactory, started in 1776. Before that time, weaving had been done on many Virginia plantations for decades. Yarn spun by slaves during bad weather was made into cloth and used to help clothe those same slaves. Today guests are invited to stop by and see some of the yarn of various weights and types as it is dyed in the 18th-century manner.
  • Women’s Work in Business and Trade, 3 p.m., Thursday, March 31, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. A group discussion focuses on women in commerce in Colonial America. Four skilled tradeswomen from Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades shops answer questions to inspired more interest and accuracy into the subject of women involved in trades throughout Colonial history.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission pass provides access to these programs.

    The L. Kay Wilkinson Endowment for Women’s Studies helps underwrite Colonial Williamsburg programs such as Women’s History Month.

    Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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