TAH Goes to Williamsburg

TAH summer trip, day 2: We go to Williamsburg

After breakfast, we headed to Colonial Williamsburg for guided tour down main street, the historical houses, the working shops and presentations. Fascinating demonstrations of various colonial crafts.

Lunch was on our own, but most of us had lunch at the pub for sandwiches and sodas. Afternoon was more-or-less on our own. The tour guide took a group to tour various important sites on the beautiful William and Mary Campus, while other TAH folks continued exploring Williamsburg sites. With colonial Williamsburg and the College immediately next to each other, we had many options for places to see and things to learn.

Dinner was traditional colonial fare at a Williamsburg tavern, complete with visiting “residents” of the community, in full costume.

After dinner, we took the “hauntings tour,” a visit back down to certain sites with in-depth stories of the people and the hauntings people reported at those sites. We didn’t catch sight of any ghosts, but the stories were intriguiging.

Another exceptional day.

The original capitol building in Williamsburg

The original capitol building in Williamsburg


In jail! Looking through the food slot.

In jail! Looking through the food slot.


Free from jail

Free from jail


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If you go to Williamsburg, you have to try out the stocks!

If you go to Williamsburg, you have to try out the stocks!


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4 Responses to TAH Goes to Williamsburg

  1. Sandy McGee says:

    I loved the milliner’s shop! The young lady that was in there was so knowledgable! I assumed that clothing reflected the status of the colonists. This was not the case. She explained that the colonists could buy as much clothing as they were willing to get into debt to own. That sounds familiar. One dress took ten hours to stitch. That was one day’s work. All the clothing was hand-stitched and would last. The colonists were not at they mercy of the designers and they would control the prices. When they would find a piece of fabric that they liked, they would purchase it and take it to the milliner. She would fit it to their body. Can you imagine the time that they saved? How many hours do we spend trying on clothing and fussing about how something looks on us? When the clothing was no longer fashionable, the colonists could take it back to the milliner and she would modify it so that it was fashionable.

    I wish that I had asked about the amount of clothing that they wore. The heat and humidity were unbearable. They didn’t have air conditioning and they wore so many layers of clothing. How did they manage the heat? The corsets looked so uncomfortable!

  2. Anita Martinez says:

    In the 18the century Easterners started to trickle into New Mexico. They were appalled at the living conditions of New Mexicans, living in mud huts, an uncivilized people with no couth. The homes they were living in were modern with large gardens. Most New Mexicans were subsistance farmers barely able to feed their own families. They lived in one room homes with the bare necessities.This was because of their extreme isolation. I took lots of pictures of the homes in Williamsburg and would like to compare them with the homes of New Mexicans during the same time period. The Governor’s Palace located in Williamsburg and the Palace of the Governor located in Santa Fe were of no comparison.

  3. Caleb Foucault says:

    Our time in Williamsburg gave us authentic insight into the lives of colonial citizens and their struggles toward independence and self-rule. Set up to replicate the city of Williamsburg, Virginia as it would look in the late 1700’s we had an opportunity to mingle with townsfolk, experience the industry as it were, and learn about the functions of government and rule in the colony. It was a tremendously authentic visual into life in colonial America prior to independence. The most rewarding portion of the day included a program entitled “Revolution in the Streets” that included a multi-scene presentation highlighting revolutionaries, loyalists, slaves, traitors, and common people. The presentation took the audience through Duke of Gloucester street giving the experience of updates on the war, debtors auction, courtship and marriage of two slaves including a jumping of the broom ceremony, capture of a militia deserter, and call to arms for new volunteers to march on Yorktown and defeat General Cornwallis and the British. The conclusion of the program included a musket and canon demonstration along with a visit from General Washington. Throughout this authentic presentation all I could think about was how I could use this concept in my classroom. As I take my students through the events that led up to the Revolution, I would like to simulate what we observed at Williamsburg. By offering small groups selected readings about the different citizens and components of life as a revolutionary era resident, along with visual and auditory background knowledge, I think it would be a valuable experience to charge collaborative groups with the task of creating a small script and presentation of what life might be like as their assigned character or character group. Such an activity allows students self-exploration of the topic, opportunity to creatively interpret his/her character and genuinely understand how and why people of this era thought and acted as they did. Visiting Williamsburg was a tremendously powerful example of colonial America in the late 1700’s and the experience was one that gave a deeper understanding and provided meaningful knowledge of the times.

  4. Vicky Mallow says:

    Demonstrations and hands-on activities from the 1770 Williamsburg stimulated all five senses. SMELLS were prevalent in the Mary Dickinson store as ladies toiletries of that period were displayed and available for purchase. (Just beware—do not mention the present day Bath and Body works as you enter this shop. The storekeeper and her apprentice will snub you and never acknowledge your presence. Apparently modern day pleasantries as to saying aloud how wonderful the place smells and comparing it to another wonderful smelling establishment from the present should be left outside the front door.) TASTE is the second sense that is assaulted at Shield’s Tavern. Our fare was a rather large chicken fricassee—as in half the chicken. (I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the standard portion for those who had the pleasure of dining in taverns during that period or is it a way to appease the rather gluttonous consumers of today.) FEEL is the sense that comes into play when you step in the Prentis Store and learn how to write your name with a quill pen. The master writer demonstrates how to write and then guides you through the process. (Once more my present day sensibilities came into play as I observed the apprentice trying to write her name. She felt, as I did too, that ink was running out and wanted to continuously refill her quill. The master writer denied this attempt because one dip was sufficient enough to continue; she simply had to turn her quill in a different direction. The idiom “waste not, want not” came into my mind. In today’s society we are so used to using things and if we need more we go to the 24-hour store and purchase more; while, in the past, things were used in a more conservative manner because you couldn’t simply go down the street at any time day or night and purchase more.) SIGHT-what can I say? The things you see on the streets of Williamsburg—the colonial period dresses, the revolutionary uniforms, the horses and the buggies, etc. — bring alive that period of time. The actual jail cell and the branding tool that was used to identify criminal behavior also brought to life the criminal processes of those times. (Back in that time period, if you were arrested for a heinous crime, you went to jail at the capitol and awaited trial. Trials were held twice a year. At trial if you were found guilty of a heinous crime, you were hanged. If you did something that wasn’t so heinous, you were branded with a little stamp on your hand; however, if you were arrested again and had that stamp, you were immediately hung. Imagine if that were the process of today.) And finally we come to HEARing. During the Revolution in the Streets, colonial persons were interspersed throughout the present day crowd. You are actually listening and participating in the town hall meetings of that time; in the marriage between two slaves; and in other “critical moments” of that time. The finale was the fife and drum march (of which we participated—one was an actual soldier while two others danced behind the line down the street.); the dress parade of troops in Market Square; and General George Washington, himself, rallying and addressing his troops and the crowds that had gathered. The sights and sounds of Colonial Williamsburg will enhance my teaching in the future. If a history lesson or any lesson for that matter can incorporate all the above elements, students will be engage in their learning. And once you have students engaged, you know that real learning is taking place. Thanks Williamsburg for giving me an extra shot of “oomph” in order to become a better and more effective teacher!

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