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Registration open for innovative summer programs

American Revolutionary history is alive and well at the American Independence Museum, as it recently opened registration for its kids’ summer programs.

The museum’s summer programming includes a brand new Colonial Tales program, which will utilize stories to introduce kids, ages 6 to 8, to various aspects of daily colonial life. In this half-day program, which takes place July 23 to July 27, kids will learn through activities, crafts and games.

In Revolutionary Kids, participants (ages 9 – 11) will have the opportunity to assume the roles of real 18th century Exeter children, complete with colonial clothing. At the end of the program (July 9 to July 13), participants will demonstrate what they learned at the American Independence Festival on July 14.

Designed for kids, ages 12 to 14, History Adventures will help participants build upon their knowledge of 18th century life and Revolutionary War period history. This program (August 6 to August 10) will consist of hands-on activities and crafts, demonstrations, field trips, living history, re-enacting and more.

In commenting on the museum’s summer programming, Education Manager Abby Pietrantonio said they are excited to offer programs that will reach a wider audience. “We received a generous grant from the William W. Treat Foundation, which really enabled us to expand our summer programs for kids,” she said.

Museum Executive Director Emma Bray expressed excitement at the opportunity to provide kids with a chance to “immerse themselves in our shared colonial history.”

“We are thrilled to expand our hands-on learning opportunities for children this summer,” she added.

Registration is open for all three programs and space is limited. To learn more or register, visit

Traveling Trunk puts history in the hands of students

With many secondary schools around the state forced to cut back on history classes due to budget shortfalls, the American Independence Museum launched a Traveling Truck pilot program early in 2017. Revealing different aspects of colonial life, the program provides experiential learning opportunities in American History directly in the classroom at no cost to school districts for elementary and middle school age children.

“History has a place in today’s classroom,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “There is so much more to history than rote memorization of facts and dates.”

Abigail Pietrantonio, education manager at the museum, agrees and said the program helps students develop many of the ‘middle skills’ required for success in “today’s fast-pace world.”

“Critical thinking, team-building, communication—these are some of the skills that research shows history can help students develop,” she said. “The study of history is as relevant as ever.”

Educating roughly 100 students this past spring in its pilot program, the Traveling Trunk is now fully implemented and has educated nearly 250 students this fall. Most recently, Pietrantonio traveled to Jacques Memorial Elementary School in Milford.

“It was great to be in the classroom with the kids,” she said. “I look forward to visiting more schools.”

For David Van Rossum, President/CEO of Service Credit Union, which is sponsoring the trunk through April of 2018, the program’s success has been “remarkable.”

“We are delighted the program has been so well received and we hope many other children from the Granite State will come to experience our rich history in such a fun and engaging way,” he said.

In each trunk—students have access to more than 70 high-quality replica items, while teachers are guided by a curriculum designed by the museum.

Expressing appreciation at the partnership with—and support from—Service Credit Union, Bray said the program helps to advance the museum’s mission “beyond [their] four walls.”

“The museum closes for tours in December, but this program makes us a year-round concern,” she said. “We are not just preserving history, we are help to teach it while inspiring today’s young learners to become tomorrow’s leaders…This is a great program that fills a very real educational need.”

To learn more about the Traveling Trunk program, or make an inquiry for your school, library, or similar institution, contact Abigail at [email protected].

American Independence Museum to help people write their family history

On Saturday, October 14, the American Independence Museum will host a genealogy workshop entitled, “Writing Your Family History: Taking the First Step.”

The workshop will be presented Penny Stratton, a veteran of the book publishing industry who retired as publications director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in June of 2016. Among the more than 65 titles she managed at NEHGS are The Great Migration Directory, Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, and the award-winning Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

At “Writing Your Family History: Taking the First Step,” Stratton will assist individuals interested in tracing their roots or those who have already begun a project. The informative presentation will be followed by time for questions, advice, and expert support.

The workshop will take place on Saturday, October 14 from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. The fee is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Attendees are encouraged to bring their projects and laptops with them, as workshop time will be provided at the end of the session.

Founded in 1991, the nonprofit American Independence Museum features living history exhibits and a vast collection, including one of 26 surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence, two rare drafts of the U.S. Constitution, and handwritten letters by General George Washington. One of the museum’s areas of focus include shedding light on the Folsom, Ladd and Gilman families, each of whom played leading roles in Exeter and New Hampshire colonial history.

The Museum is owned by the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire, the nation’s oldest veterans’ organization that traces its membership lineage to the Revolutionary War.

Museum looks to partner with sponsors for Traveling Trunk program

Educating nearly 1,600 students of varying ages in 2016, the American Independence Museum is beefing up its educational offerings with the recently launched ‘Traveling Trunk’ program. Based around several possible lesson plans for teachers to use, the program is funded in part by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Complete with replica period clothing, toys, historical artifacts, and more, each of the Museum’s two trunks will feature more than 70 items. The goal of the program is to help children better understand the importance of the Revolutionary War and its direct relationship to Americans today.

“While the curriculum is designed with middle school students in mind, teachers can easily adapt it to fit younger or older students,” said Education Manager Abigail Pietrantonio.”

Expressing hope that she can also teach in the classroom, Pietrantonio said she looks forward to helping make history relevant for today’s students. “Historical knowledge is important for today’s student,” she added.

According to the Museum’s Rob Levey, the key now is to engage corporate sponsors.

“We know school budgets are tight—and for a very nominal investment by sponsors, we can deliver a unique educational experience for students across the state,” he said. “Abby has done a remarkable job researching and developing the curriculum.”

According to Pietrantonio, she has already received numerous calls from teachers about the program.

“There is certainly interest in it,” she added. “With support, I know we can get this program into the classroom and provide an educational experience that is fun and unique.”

To learn more about the program or the Museum’s many educational offerings for school children, contact Pietrantonio at [email protected] or visit

New programs and events highlight 2016 season

On Tuesday, May 3, the American Independence Museum in Exeter will open its doors to the 2016 season, which will feature expanded programming and new events.

Building on the popularity of last year’s evening lectures, the Museum will offer a free Lunch and Learn series where esteemed authors and experts will provide brief talks on lesser known aspects of Colonial History. At the first Lunch and Learn lecture on May 10 at 12 pm, local historian and Museum volunteer Doug MacLennan will talk about how abundant local forests helped make America possible.

This year, the Museum will also host the inaugural Beer for History series, sponsored by Hoefle Phoenix Gormley & Roberts, P.A. Attorneys at Law. Designed to highlight history in “a fun and creative way,” according to Museum Executive Director Julie Williams, Beer for History will feature craft brews from Neighborhood Beer Co., D.L. Geary Brewing Company and 7th Settlement.

“Beer for History will have live music, games and magic for kids, and more,” she noted. “The series is our way of opening Exeter up to people from across the region—it will be a lot of fun.”

Beer for History will take place on May 19, June 23 and October 20.

New exhibits, events and educational programming as well as free admission for veterans and their families are made possible by major sponsors. Major sponsors include Two International Group, AutoFair, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Foy Insurance, Chinburg Properties, Access Sports and RiverWoods.

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