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On the Blog

A Sampling of Samplers
A College for the 'Children of the Virginians'
Why Choose Jamestown Island?
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Hands-On Demonstrations and Tutorials

From Historical Experts at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Sewing Masks for a Cause 
Our skilled team of historical tailors and seamstresses at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown normally manufacture gowns, Revolutionary War regimental coats and Powhatan Indian clothing during regular museum operations. However, while currently working from home in response to COVID-19, they’re taking on a different kind of sewing challenge to support hospitals and medical centers in our local community – by creating homemade masks that keep the much needed N95 masks clean for longer. More than 300 masks have already been produced and donated to first responders like the chemo nurses at the Virginia Oncology Center and organizations from Langley Air Force Base Hospital to Signature Canvas Company supplying custom masks for the U.S. Navy. See how our historical clothing staff are making these masks in the full video tutorial below and download the pattern to make your own mask.


How to Make a Twined Basket

In this video Jamie shows you how to make a Powhatan-style twined basket from start to finish using materials you already have in your house. The Powhatan used natural materials like yucca, dogbane, cedar bark and many others in the Tidewater area of Virginia to make these light-weight, yet sturdy containers for gathering and storage.


How to Make a Dugout Canoe

Our English fleet is quite well known, but our staff are also working on building up our Powhatan fleet as well. In this video Russell describes the process of making a Powhatan dugout canoe.



Are you a fan of field hockey? Shinny is a game that Powhatan Indians played in the 17th century. Described by colonist William Strachey as being played “with a crooked stick, and ball make of leather stufft with hair, he wins that drives it from the other between two trees appointed for the goal.”


Corncob Darts

Do you have a dart board at home? The Powhatan had a different take on darts than we do today.  Here Maya describes the Powhatan version of darts where you take a hoop and roll it across the ground, throw it in the air, or hang it from a tree, then try to throw the darts through it as the target moves. For hunters and youngsters learning to hunt, the game can be played by shooting arrows through the hoop.


Is anyone out there missing their weekly poker nights? Friendly gambling has been a popular pastime for centuries around the world. Russell describes the type of gambling that was popular among the Powhatan in the 17th century.


17th Century Musket Use in England and Virginia

It may seem like the use and necessity of firearms was consistent in the 17th century, but in fact the uses of the matchlock musket changed once the English settled in Virginia. In this video, Brian goes over the capabilities and use of the matchlock musket both back in Europe and here in Virginia.


17th Century Music Series: Singing

Singing was one of the most enjoyable ways to pass the time in the 17th century, both at home, and for soldiers on the march. In this video Murray highlights a period song called “Tomorrow the Fox Will Come to Town.”

How to Use Soapwort

Although many people in the 18th century preferred using lye soap for washing their hands, many farmers also grew a great substitute called soapwort. In this video Gretchen demonstrates how soapwort is used.



Mancala is one of several names for a type of counting game with origins in Africa. It is played pieces counted into pits or depressions on a game board. Today the game is played throughout the world, but the earliest known boards were found in ancient Egyptian temples and it is still one of the most popular board games in Africa. Here Raeven shows how to make a mancala board at home and walks you through how to play.


Shut the Box

Have you ever heard of a game called Shut The Box? It is a game of math and skill and a pastime of the Continental Army soldiers during the American Revolution. In this video, Katie talks about how the game of Shut the Box is played and how to play it by yourself or with others.

Cannon Maintenance

Keeping black powder weapons in good working order was essential for soldiers in the Continental Army. In this video Andrew shows you how we maintain the cannons in our re-created army encampment at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.