Meet our Staff – We are living history people who are bringing history alive! – Each member of our staff is passionate about history and strives to inspire a love of history in those we meet. – Our interpreters are experienced educators adept with utilizing multiple teaching methods across a diverse population. – Our goal is to create personal history connections by engaging people with active inquiry. – We believe learning is enhanced with social interaction and dialogue. – We continue to add to our knowledge and skill through literary works, participation in conferences, workshops and visits to historical sites!
Ed Devlin: Since I was a young boy, I have been fascinated by the stories that make up our history. A newspaper article about me a few years back was entitled “A Mysterious Fascination”. Yet it doesn’t stop there! No, I have wanted to share all things I have learned, all the stories of the people before us. For the past twenty years or so, I have given lectures and made presentations in many venues. There is a risk when you set up a display and invite people to come listen to you. Some people listen intensely, some pass on. Sometimes you ignite a spark in them, leave them with more than when they arrived. About 5 years ago, I was making a presentation backed-up by a display of weapons and equipment of a soldier from our past when a young man, 12 or 13 years, asked a particularly insightful question. I followed up his answer with a question of my own. He replied with a good understanding. He and I were in an exciting conversation! I so wanted to encourage another generation to pursue the stories about previous generations of people who made it possible for the two of us to have such an exciting talk. Maybe I was just basking in this young man’s knowledge or maybe, here was my replacement!
Lenita Gullman: I have been a lifelong history buff beginning with a visit to Mount Vernon at the age of 5, courtesy of my father. My childhood vacations were spent visiting one historic site after another and reading about history voraciously. I have been involved in historic interpretation and demonstration for over 30 years. My passion has been American History of the Revolutionary War Period, with a major focus on George Washington. I have designed and presented programs involving 18th century culture and history to 15 school districts and over 20 public and elementary schools, the NJ Education Association and Brookdale Community College. My most satisfying moment as an historic interpreter came when I was presenting a program regarding George Washington. In the first row was a small girl about 7 years old sitting with her father. She sat there totally engrossed in what I was saying. When the presentation concluded, she and her father approached me. She shyly informed me that George was her favorite person in history and wanted to know what other history programs were available. It was almost déjà vu – I felt blessed to help her continue on a path that I had trod myself. My greatest sense of accomplishment in historic demonstration was cooking and serving a complete dinner for 12 in an historic house. The entire meal was cooked in the open hearth using authentic 18th century recipes and reproduction 18th century cooking utensils. The various dishes were all ready to be served at the same time. The patrons were amazed that it was even possible (I was a little amazed myself!) All raved about the meal and wanted to know when we would do it again.
Ellen Jackson: I am always eager to share the history of the Jersey Colony – history that comes alive with colonial garb, unique artifacts and special stories of our ancestors. Each year I visit my daughter’s kindergarten class in Brooklyn as a “Colonial Person”. The children have questions prepared to ask me. ‘Did they have marshmallows back then?’ ‘Would the children go to kindergarten?’ ‘What kind of toys did they have?’ At that point I bring out colonial toys such as button whizzers and Jacob’s ladders to add to a delightful colonial experience!
Dianne Thompson: History is so much more than dates in a book – sharing the “living” part with students makes it so much fun! I have had the privilege to sleep in the Old Barracks in Trenton, cook and bake in a beehive oven and sew my own Colonial clothing. As I dress in my Colonial clothes, I feel like I am stepping back in time. I love sharing what I know with students and people of all ages. Growing up in Wisconsin I have a pretty good idea about farm work. During a program, I have asked students to name the one ingredient in butter. Many raise their hands and say “milk”. They are puzzled when I indicate that isn’t quite right. When a student does say “cream”, we all discuss how to separate the cream from the raw milk. “Do the cows have spigots marked MILK or CREAM?” That would be easier, but I then explain that letting the fresh raw milk sit allows “the cream to always rise to the top.” It is fun to be a part of learning! And hopefully they go home and talk about the saying with their families!
Sharon Goodman: Learning and exchanging knowledge are my favorite activities! My children used to ask me “Why do you read so much?” because they felt reading was something adults required of children. To me reading is fun so I would let them know that I really enjoyed it. Not mentioning, however, that some textbooks from my college days were much less compelling. Sometimes I would be able to share a tidbit from my current book not knowing then that lifelong readers were budding! One favorite teaching moment! Nearing the end of a colonial daily life program with a class of 4th graders, we were discussing the evening activities of a typical colonial family. One young boy who had not spoken much suddenly raised his hand as high as he possibly could. I called upon him noticing the excitement in his eyes and eagerness escaping his very being. He quickly asked, “Would they read to the kids before bed?” I nodded my head and he said, “Just like at my house!” This student had been processing information regarding the differences of 18th century family life when compared to his own and then he gave that 18th century family a place in his world! Huzzah for living history!
Sue Malmi: I am so pleased to be able to present Living History programs to both children and adults. Some of my favorite teaching moments occur during historical artifact identification with students. I’ll hold up or point to an object and ask them what they think it is, how it works, and why folks would have needed it a couple of centuries ago. This exercise gets the students engaged and thinking. True, answers are sometimes off the mark – but often these not-quite-right answers are very creative ideas!