July 21, 2008
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – “Pastimes of Colonial Virginia” – games, storytelling and other diversions of the 17th and 18th centuries – will be the focus of interpretive programs at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center living-history museums throughout the month of August.
At Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, historical interpreters will engage visitors in a variety of games and activities used by early Virginians not only to pass the time but develop important skills. In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, visitors can test their aim by pitching corncob darts through hoops. On board one of three replica ships, historical interpreters will discuss how America’s first permanent English colonists played games of draughts, or checkers, and dice to amuse themselves on the 1607 voyage to Virginia.
In the re-created 1610-14 colonial fort, visitors can take part in ninepins and quoits, a type of ringtoss. Fort and ships’ visitors also can hear tales of early colonial leader Captain John Smith and of the Sea Venture, a ship that wrecked in Bermuda in 1609 en route to Jamestown. At the riverfront discovery area, reflecting 17th-century water travel, commerce and cultural exchange, visitors can learn about and play the traditional African game mancala. Orientation tours of the outdoor living-history areas begin daily at 10 and 11 a.m., 12 noon, 1, 2 and 3.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, visitors to the re-created Continental Army encampment can learn how soldiers used board games, such as nine-men’s morris, cards and dice for entertainment during the war. At the re-created 1780s farm, visitors can roll a hoop and play the game of Graces, in which players toss a ribboned hoop to one another using sticks. Historical interpreters in the farm also will recount Aesop’s Fables, a popular type of children’s literature in the mid-1700s.
The two history museums also feature extensive gallery exhibits that tell the story of America’s beginnings. At Jamestown Settlement, gallery exhibits describe traditional recreation and art of the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged in 1600s Virginia. An exhibit about children’s education and play compares examples of 17th-century and modern toys. Among the artifacts in the Yorktown Victory Center’s Witness to Revolution Gallery, is a circa-1775 British game box with cups and counters used to play 18th-century card games of quadrille and ombre.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and until 6 p.m. from June 15 to August 15. Admission to both museums is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for ages 6 through 12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $13.50 for adults and $6.25 for ages 6 through 12; the Yorktown Victory Center is $9.25 for adults and $5.00 for ages 6 through 12. “Pastimes of Colonial Virginia” is funded in part by the York County Arts Commission.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway. Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838 or visit hif.ciniva.net.