J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Learning about the Jacob Whittemore House, 18 & 23 May

Minute Man National Historical Park contains eleven buildings that stood during the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The only one within the bounds of Lexington (just barely tucked in) is the Jacob Whittemore House, built around 1717, bought by the government in 1961, and renovated in 2005.

The family that lived in that house during the battle wasn’t wealthy and suffered various misfortunes, which contributed to their memories not becoming part of the traditional narrative of how the Revolutionary War began.

The Mass Humanities Foundation provided the Friends of Minute Man with funds to hire Polly Kienle as a Scholar-in-Residence to research those people. Her research, the park says, has “contributed to the development of new interactive exhibits about daily life in 1775 that invite visitors to the Jacob Whittemore House to explore 18th-century food and where it came from, clothing and what was worn when, and division of work within a rural 18th-century family.”

The house will be open to the public on a regular basis this summer from 29 June to 24 August, Thursday through Monday afternoons. Each day rangers will lead a family activity titled “Hats Off! A Homespun Tribute.”

In addition, Kienle will present her program titled “If these Walls Could Speak…” on Saturday, 18 May, as a part of a daylong event at the Jacob Whittemore House. This event, running 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., will also feature reenactors of the Lexington militia and His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot. Rangers will lead tours of the nearby “Parker’s Revenge” site. It’s part of Lexington’s 300th anniversary. Kienle will repeat her program for visitors on five Sundays this year: 16 June, 21 July, 25 August, 22 September, and 20 October.

Finally, there will also be a panel discussion titled “Some Stayed Behind, to Protect Their Terrified Families” about the experiences of that house’s inhabitants during the battle, featuring Kienle and experts from various disciplines. That free public forum will take place from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, 23 May, at Minute Man Visitor Center in Lexington.

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