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June 3, 2006

Virginia's colonial capital fueled fire for freedom, 20th-century living history museum creates revolutionary ideas for education

Williamsburg, the 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia, led a country to freedom. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation relies on the lessons learned from the fight for independence to teach the importance of citizenship in the birthplace of democracy today. The summer issue of Colonial Williamsburg, the Journal of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, examines the impact of the American Revolution and the evolution of the Foundation as a living history museum and educational institution on society today.

In the “Message from the President,” Colonial Williamsburg President Colin G. Campbell discusses the role the Foundation will play in activities surrounding Jamestown 2007, the commemoration of America’s 400th Anniversary, the commemoration of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. The 18-month observance was launched on May 22 with the sail of the replica of the Godspeed up the East Coast and continues in October with four days of events marking the 225th anniversary of the Continental Army’s victory at Yorktown in October.

“The programs, presentations and observances promise to bring new attention to the Historic Triangle’s place in the ranks of primary travel destinations,” he said. “At Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown we will reaffirm the vitality of the American experiment.”

“Colonial Williamsburg: A Popular Artifact of Culture” examines the impact the Foundation has had on America since its inception in 1926. Author Christopher Geist lists examples of how Colonial Williamsburg served as a backdrop for movies such as “The Howards of Virginia” in 1957 starring Cary Grant and, of course, the Foundation’s production of “The Story of a Patriot” and popular television shows such as “Lassie” in 1966 and Christmas specials that include “Perry Como’s Early American Christmas” in 1978. Colonial Williamsburg also has made its mark in products, including the introduction of the Felicity Merriman doll from American Girl in 1991.

“Colonial Williamsburg presents a generally accepted popular vision of colonial America, and it is the most prominent example of a living history museum village,” Giest writes. “Its presence is ubiquitous in popular culture materials, and it became the popular standard in the field of living history.”

In “Balancing Old and New: The Renovation of the Williamsburg Lodge,” contributor Barbara Rust Brown takes a nostalgic look at the Williamsburg Lodge as it prepares to re-open this fall after extensive renovation of its facilities. “For sixty-seven years, since the days when people dressed up to tour Virginia’s restored colonial capital and family sedans had running boards, the Williamsburg Lodge has been the hostelry preferred by travelers who admire quiet elegance, attention to their comfort and an atmosphere of rustic ease.”

“Three generations later, guests still come for the Lodge’s easygoing ambience, service, dining, and welcoming accommodations. It is, as it was, a setting for family gatherings, weddings, and honeymoons.”

Elsewhere in the issue can be found:

  • “Throw down your arms, ye villains, ye Rebels, Disperse!”—Journal editor Dennis Montgomery revisits a turning point during the American Revolution, the battles of Lexington and Concord;
  • “Fields of Fire—Four Views of the Fatal Day”—Contributor J. Hunter Barbour examines four paintings by 18th-century engraver Amos Doolittle and portraitist Ralph Earle, who developed prints that illustrated the story of the beginning of the American Revolution;
  • “‘The Monstrous Absurdity’: The Gunpowder Theft Examined”—Contributor Mary Miley Theobald takes a closer look at Royal Governor Lord Dunmore’s theft of the gunpowder from the Magazine;
  • “‘No Foe to Freedom Should Pass that Bridge’”—Contributor John P. Hunter discusses the role of a woman—Prudence Cumings Wright—in the American Revolution;
  • “Captain Jack Jouett’s Ride to the Rescue”—Richmond journalist Ed Crews questions whether Virginia’s Paul Revere saved Thomas Jefferson from British capture; and
  • “The Pomp and Pageantry of Vice-Royalty: Creating Lord Dunmore’s Palace”—Robert Leath, vice president for Collections and Research at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, reviews the recent makeover of the Governor’s Palace.

    These articles and articles from previous issues are found online at Colonial Williamsburg can be purchased at Everything Williamsburg and WILLIAMSBURG® Booksellers at the Foundation’s Visitor Center.

    Complimentary copies of the printed magazine can be obtained and subscriptions ordered at

    Colonial Williamsburg, the Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is published six times a year by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The journal is a benefit to donors who contribute $35 a year or more and $9 is reserved for the subscription.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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