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American Independence Museum to open Foy Family Children’s Library in 2020

The site of many American Independence Museum programs, Folsom Tavern (c. 1775) will undergo a transformation in 2020 with the creation of the Foy Family Children’s Library.

Featuring curated books, seating for children, activity table and more, the Foy Family Children’s Library is made possible by a gift from Jeff and Melissa Foy of East Kingston.

According to Jeff Foy, who has supported the museum for years as co-owner of Foy Insurance, the gift ensures “there will be a permanent place for kids at the museum.”

“My wife Melissa was an elementary school librarian before retiring and I have always loved history, so we saw a chance to combine both our passions and make a lasting impact here,” he said. “We are thrilled to be part of the museum and this project.”

In addition to a dedicated space for a children’s library, the gift will enable the museum to upgrade its entire Children’s Room, which will include high-quality games, clothes, toys and more.

“This library and space is part of a larger initiative to transform our campus into an inviting space for local community members and visitors to Exeter,” said Emma Stratton, museum Executive Director. “We are very thankful for this gift.”

Noting work will begin sometime in February or March, the Foy Family Children’s Library is expected to be complete and open for the start of the American Independence Museum’s 2020 season on May 1. 

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.

American Independence Museum’s Genealogy Workshop Series continues on Saturday, September 21

Sponsored by the William W. Treat Foundation, the next workshop in the American Independence Museum’s Genealogy Workshop Series takes place on Saturday, September 21.

Entitled “Researching Early New England Ancestry,” the workshop will explore how to locate and use published town vital records, church, colony, court, probate, land, military, and tax records.

“In some cases, these records have survived from the 17th century and been abstracted and published,” noted museum Executive Director Emma Stratton. “This workshop will teach attendees how to find and use them to support their own research.”

Presented in partnership with New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the workshop will take place from 1 to 4 pm at the museum’s Folsom Tavern on Saturday, September 21.

Fees are $20 for museum/NEHGS members and $30 for ‘not-yet’ members. Space is limited, reservations are required.

The final workshop in the series, “Writing Your Family History: Taking the First Steps,” takes place on November 16.

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,500 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.

To purchase workshop tickets, visit

Edward Jones to present ‘peek’ inside the American Independence Museum

On Wednesday, September 25, the American Independence Museum will host “Inside the American Independence Museum” an event designed for the corporate sector to learn more about the museum and its value as an economic force.

“We educate visitors both on and off-site, we preserve important historic items, we create revenue generating opportunities for other businesses,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “This is a chance to learn more about us and all museums, which are complex business entities.”

Taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on the patio of the Ladd-Gilman House, the free event is sponsored by Karin Behrens-Bouvier, financial advisor with Edward Jones.

A longtime supporter of the museum, Behrens-Bouvier said she believes the American Independence Museum is important to not just Exeter, but the greater Seacoast region.

“I have always admired their role in the community and their efforts to educate people as well as provide a place for locals and tourists to gather throughout the year,” she said. “I look forward to learning more about the museum, its unique collection and to meet fellow civic-minded corporate citizens.”

Featuring light appetizers and drinks, “Inside the American Independence Museum” is free and designed specifically for the corporate sector. The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, September 25 on the patio of the museum’s Ladd-Gilman House at 1 Governors Lane.

“This is a chance for business owners and those in the corporate sector to learn more about us and to brainstorm ways we can potentially collaborate with one another,” added Bray. 

RSVP is required. To RSVP for the event, email Bray at [email protected]

Educational program picking up ‘steam’ for American Independence Museum

Linking science, technology, engineering, art and math, STEAM is an integrated educational model in today’s secondary schools that leaves out history, which presents an opportunity for cultural institutions like the American Independence Museum.

“The subject of history is not a static one,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “History is a subject that itself connects to economic, geographic, cultural and civic knowledge.”

With some schools removing history from certain grades due to budgetary constraints, Bray said institutions like the museum are able to provide educational value in unexpected ways.

“We have items in our collection, research documents and historical knowledge and resources that we can utilize to enhance education in the classroom,” she said. “That is why we developed the Traveling Trunk program.”

Developed in 2016 with initial seed funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the program is designed for students of varying ages. Shipped in a trunk, the program contains 70+ high quality replica items and colonial history curriculum materials.

“It is hands-on, experiential education that directly reflects best practices in education today,” added Bray.

The program, however, comes with ongoing costs. The trunk is occasionally returned with some items missing and there are costs to ship it. In 2019, the trunk is expected to travel more than 15,000 miles with stops as far away as California.

“The program is supported by Service Credit Union, which has been with us since its beginning,” Bray said. “We could not offer this program at no charge to students without their support.”

Wendy Beswick, vice president of marketing at Service Credit Union, said the program is unique in that it “removes barriers.”

“We believe in the Traveling Trunk program, because it reaches many students who otherwise would not be able to access such an educational experience,” she said. “This is an investment with a great return.”

This return, said Bray, is measured by thousands of students.

“As schools continue to struggle with budgets, partnerships between the nonprofit and corporate sector–like what we have developed with Service Credit Union–are increasingly more important,” she said.

Founded in 1991 in downtown Exeter, NH, the American Independence Museum features more than 3,000 items in its collection, including one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.
The museum is a member of the 17-member NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.

For more information about the NH Heritage Museum Trail, visit

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