Monday, June 17, 2024

Jamestown Rediscovery Extends Living History Programming through the Fall

Historic Interpreter Kaylan Stevenson portrays one of the young women recruited by the Virginia Company to marry a planter and help stabilize the colony. (Courtesy of Jamestown Rediscovery)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — Jamestown Rediscovery has expanded its first-person living history programming at Historic Jamestowne this summer thanks to the support of the Jamestowne Society.

The society members provided funding for the summer expansion of Historic Jamestowne’s new program, “Maids to Virginia.”

The program is set in 1621, just after the arrival of 57 women recruited to marry planters in Virginia in an attempt to help stabilize the colony, the program allows visitors to meet two of the young women who made the life-changing decision to cross the ocean and come to Virginia, according to Jamestown Rediscovery.

Historic interpreters Amy Stallings (left) and Kaylan Stevenson (middle) share a look while portraying two women recruited by the Virginia Company to come to the struggling colony alongside Willie Balderson. (Courtesy of Jamestown Rediscovery)

Funding from the Jamestowne Society provided support for two historians, Kaylan Stevenson and Amy Stallings, who researched the women who came to Jamestown on these early voyages. They built personas, wrote scripts, and hand-crafted their own historically-accurate costumes.

“Maids to Virginia” is based on historic events that took place between 1619 and 1621, when the Virginia Company of London recruited and transported young women to Jamestown as potential brides in what was, at the time, largely a male colony.

According to Jamestown Rediscovery, the women — varying in age between 16 and 33 — went through a rigorous eligibility process, including inquiries to their local parish priests and others who could speak to their good character. They were neither criminals nor forced to marry against their will. Most would eventually marry one of the male colonists already living at Jamestown and some of their experiences can be gleaned from historic records.

“Through Kaylan and Amy’s work, visitors can get a closer understanding of the motivations of the young women who arrived between 1619 and 1621,” said Willie Balderson, director of Living History & Historic Trades. “How did they feel walking into an entirely unknown future? What opportunities were they seeking and how did their lives change in Virginia? The experience seems unfathomable to today’s audiences, but this program helps us better understand the significance of the women’s arrival in Virginia.”

The “Maids of Virginia” program will continue to run on select Sundays through the fall and is included with regular admission at Historic Jamestowne. For more information, please visit Historic Jamestowne’s website.

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