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February 22, 2021 4 min

When and with what purpose was the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation established? 

Colonial Williamsburg was established in 1926 and opened its first public site in 1932 to restore and educationally interpret the City of Williamsburg during the Revolutionary era of the late 18th century, when it was the capitol of Britain’s largest, most populous and prosperous colony, a political flashpoint for the revolution, and later capitol of the new Commonwealth of Virginia.

During the period more than half the city’s population was Black, most of them enslaved.

The city was a major trade and diplomatic hub with indigenous tribes within Virginia land claimed by the British extending to the Mississippi.

Colonial Williamsburg seeks to interpret the city and period completely, reflecting the diversity and complexity of our shared American story.

Its ultimate goal is to support civil society and fundamental democratic ideals in our country and around the world.

How does having actor/interpreters help spread the stories woven throughout the history of Virginia? 

They bring our shared history to life and engage and interact with audiences both on-site and virtually in ways not possible in a text or traditional heritage site or museum. 

They foster real person-to-person connections and often field questions guests might otherwise hesitate to ask in regular society about sensitive social issues.

Dress rehearsal for the program, “Created Equal” performed on the Charlton Stage July 2, 2020. Cast members wear face masks due to COVID-19

This typically fosters a deeper understanding of history and our culture and civil society. Sometimes interpreters strongest interactions are with younger guests.

How do the actor interpreters prepare for their roles as the various people they portray? 

Exhaustive historical research on the period and their characters, whether their character is a known historical figure or a “composite character” that represents a typical person of a certain station during the period. 

Interpreters Kurt Smith as Thomas Jefferson and Jamar Jones as Jupiter in the program “Jefferson and Jupiter: Across the Board”

In addition they participate in robust program development and rehearsal and spend time “on the street” interacting with guests in-character, which is a perpetual experience of learning and professional development.

What is the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation doing to celebrate African American heritage and educate people during Black History month? 

For LOTS More Information:


Facebook: ColonialWilliamsburg

Love History?

Destination Virginia Explores Jamestown Settlement here.

Learn about the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Historic Foundation here!

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