Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Historic Jamestown on the Web

Behind the media spotlight of Queen Elizabeth II's recent visit to Jamestown, Virginia, is a 400-year-old history of vision, hardship, and perseverance. We all got the neatly packaged version in elementary school (not to mention the Disney version more recently), but the real story behind John Smith, Powhatan, and his daughter, Pocahontas, is complex and far-reaching. The establishment of the Jamestown Settlement and its relationship with the region's natives would set the stage for almost 300 years to come.

This year, thousands of people will visit Jamestown for the quadcentennial festivities, and there are some great websites to prepare you for what you'll see. The Virginia Tourism Corporation has a visually stunning site at http://www.jamestown1607.org/. In addition to historical essays, timelines, and a list of events, the site also examines Jamestown's role in establishing democracy and free enterprise in America, and observes how race relations figured in the colony's early years. An interactive presentation called Stories of a Nation asks the question, "Could you have survived?" It invites you to take the voyage virtually and make the same tough decisions the settlers made to stay alive.

Make a stop at Virtual Jamestown, where you'll find interactive Flash maps of John Smith's voyages, texts of primary source documents, and information on indentured servants and slaves in the colony. Teacher resources are available. Also of interest to teachers and homeschoolers is Jamestown Journey which offers K-12 lesson plans. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities offers Jamestown Rediscovery which describes the ongoing excavation of the settlement. This site offers a fascinating virtual tour of the "Old Towne" and "New Towne."

As you plan your trip, some books in our collection will help you: Fodor's Virginia and Maryland; Insiders' Guide: Williamsburg and Virginia Historic Triangle; Mobil Travel Guide: Mid-Atlantic; America's Best Historic Sites; and The Early America Sourcebook: a Traveler's Guide.

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