First person monologues by a costumed interpreter present the lives of personalities from the past, some ordinary, others better known. Performances encourage audience participation and can be adapted to meet the needs and interests of a particular age group, first graders to senior citizens. Approximately one hour in length. Cost is $150 per performance. Outside the Philadelphia area there will be additional charges for travel expenses.
Living History Impersonations:
- George Fox: Quaker Founding Father
- William Penn’s Holy Experiment
- Thomas Paine: Gadfly of the American Revolution
- Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad
- A Confederate View of Lincoln
- Speaking Easy: An Immigrant’s Search for the American Dream
George Fox: Quaker Founding Father
George Fox, the founding father of Quakerism, reveals the personal, spiritual turmoil he experienced as a young man as well as his discovery of the Inner Light, or presence of God in each person. Dressed in plain black garb and a broad-brimmed hat, Fox reminds his listeners of the infinite worth of every human being, regardless of race, gender or creed.
William Penn’s Holy Experiment
William Penn discusses his “Holy Experiment” of founding a colony based on the principles of equality, peace and brotherly love. He explains these Quaker beliefs and how they came to shape his life as well as his relationship with the Lenni Lenape Indians.
Tom Paine: Gadfly of the American Revolution
A passionate look at the American Revolution by the author of Common Sense, the stirring pamphlet what mobilized public supportvfor war against Great Britain. Paine, a poor tradesman from England, relocated to Philadelphia in 1774. Temperamental and jealous of his reputation, he will coax and cajole the audience into accepting American independence by presenting “simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.”
Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad
Chief conductor of the Underground Railroad’s Eastern Line, Thomas Garrett shares his stories of runaway slaves and his attempt to help them resettle in the North. Using costumes, every day work tools and volunteers from the audience, Garrett demonstrates how he disguised runaways in their desperate flight to freedom.
A Confederate View of Lincoln
Virgil Caine, a small southern farmer turned Confederate soldier, has difficulty accepting Abraham Lincoln as anything but a traitor. He discusses his disillusionment with the “Great Emancipator” as well as with the Confederate government. In the process, he challenges the audience to reconsider the place of patriotism, pacifism and racism in antebellum America.
Speaking Easy: An Immigrant’s Search for the American Dream
Patris Kaseta is a Lithuanian immigrant who leaves his native land to escape the Russian army. He details his experience of crossing the Atlantic and the processing of immigrants at Ellis Island. Sometimes humorous, at other times sadly, Kaseta discusses his search for the American Dream as a coal miner in the face of violent labor conflict and ethnic discrimination.
Public history talks include a PowerPoint presentation and follow-up discussion. Flexibly designed for classroom instruction (high school through graduate school), business meetings, community organizations, retirement homes. Approximately one hour in length, including follow-up discussion. Cost is $100 per presentation. Outside of the Philadelphia-area there will be an additional charge for traveling expenses. Sponsoring organization must provide screen, lectern and, for large audiences, audio equipment. Click here to schedule.
- “William Penn’s Holy Experiment”
- “Angel at Philadelphia: William Still and the Underground Railroad”
- “A Trial of Principle and Faith: Lincoln, the Quakers and Civil War”
- “Baseball’s White Elephants: Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics”
- “One-Armed Wonder: Pete Gray, World War II Baseball & the American Dream”
- “Dapper Dan Flood: Northeast Pennsylvania’s Colorful Congressman”
“William Penn’s Holy Experiment”
William Penn stands atop Philadelphia’s City Hall surveying a “Holy Experiment” he nurtured out of the ideals of his Quaker faith. Although Pennsylvanians are familiar with his likeness we know so little about him as a person or his vision for the New World colony he inherited. This talk will consider Penn as a theologian, colonizer, and elder statesman as well as his effort to establish a utopian society based on the principles of religious toleration, participatory government, and brotherly love.
“Angel at Philadelphia: William Still and the Underground Railroad”
Between 1830 and 1863 nearly 9,000 runaway slaves escaped to freedom using southeastern Pennsylvania’s Underground Railroad, a clandestine network of abolitionists. William Still, a free black Philadelphia, directed this so-called “Eastern Line” maintaining an extensive network of communication with those who opened their homes to fugitives, providing food, shelter and clothing. Still also interviewed every one of the nearly 1,000 runaways who came under his care. This talk examines the history, operation and mythology of the Underground Railroad’s Eastern Line, and the backgrounds of the runaways who Still secreted to freedom.
“A Trial of Principle and Faith: Lincoln, the Quakers and Civil War” President Abraham Lincoln and the Religious Society of Friends faced a similar dilemma during the Civil War: how to achieve the desired goal of emancipation without extending the bloodshed and hardship of war. Like the Quakers, Lincoln firmly believed that God’s will was the ultimate factor in determining human affairs. This shared belief in the “Doctrine of Necessity” allowed the president and Friends to support each other during the Civil War. This presentation will examine the Quakers’ anti-slavery crusade, their pacifist position, and Lincoln’s evolving position on emancipation as well as the Quaker influence on his prosecution of the war.
“Baseball’s White Elephants: Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics”
Of all the professional sports teams ever to play in the City of Brotherly Love, Connie Mack’s Athletics remain the most successful – and frustrating. The team’s five Work Series titles and nine pennants were balanced with seventeen last place finishes. Mack’s 3,776 victories as a manager were only exceeded by the 4,025 defeats he suffered – still a record for most losses by a single manager. This talk will explore Mack’s talented and comedic teams, from the early days of the American League, through the glory years and final decade in Philadelphia.
“One-Armed Wonder: Pete Gray, World War II Baseball & the American Dream”
In 1945, Pete Gray played in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns. He collected 51 hits, 8 for extra bases and compiled a .959 fielding average as an outfielder. What the statistics don’t reveal is that Gray competed with just one arm. As a result, he was an inspiration to servicemen returning home from World War II as amputees and to many people in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region where he was born and resided. This talk will explore Pete Grays rise to baseball’s major leagues. It is a story about the power of dreams, the lessons that life teaches in pursuit of those dreams and the magic that occurs when a dream comes true.
“Dapper Dan Flood: Northeast Pennsylvania’s Colorful Congressman”
Daniel J. Flood represented Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional district for more than 32 years between 1944 and 1980. As chairman of the HEW Appropriations Committee and vice chairman of Defense Appropriations, Flood held near veto power over the $300 billion national budget and channeled billions of federal dollars into northeastern Pennsylvania. He was a “congressman’s congressman” who understood the complexities of power politics and played the legislative game with sheer genius and a highly entertaining flair. Known for his grandiloquent oratory, handlebar mustache and Edwardian suits, Flood cut a colorful – and memorable – presence on the House floor. This talk will explore Flood’s remarkable political career and the circumstances surrounding his resignation from Congress on charges of influence peddling.