"TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia" Special Exhibition at Jamestown Settlement
“TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia,” featured more than 60 artifacts on loan from 22 international and national institutions, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum of London, Master and Fellows of Magdalene College Cambridge, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, National Archives, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The show also featured the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s collection of 17th-century objects.
Among the rare objects:
Ferrar Papers, circa 1621: On loan for the first time in America from the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College Cambridge, United Kingdom, the Ferrar Papers are a key source of information about the English women who arrived in Virginia in 1621 and 1622. Compiled by the family of Nicholas Ferrar, a merchant in London, the Ferrar Papers include business documents of the Virginia Company of London, and list the names, references and qualifications of many of the 56 women recruited to go to Virginia in 1621 to become wives of the settlers. A touch-screen interactive display near the original documents will allow visitors to delve into passages of the papers to learn more about these early English women.
Court Cupboard, circa 1650-1670: On loan from the Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, a court cupboard thought to have been crafted in James City County or York County, Virginia, is one of the oldest-known pieces of Virginia-made furniture. The cupboard is associated with Mary Peirsey Hill Bushrod, who arrived in Jamestown in 1623 at the age of 10.
Embroidered bodice, circa 1610: A long-sleeved bodice on loan from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust features an embroidered design of trailing stems and leaves worked in colored silk and metal threads, with metal spangles or sequins. In the “TENACITY” special exhibition, the object is associated with governor’s wives and women aspiring to an upper class.
Ducking Chair, 17th century: An English ducking chair, a recent acquisition to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection, represents the use of public humiliation as punishment that was common in England and in America from the early 17th to 19th centuries. Offenders – usually women – were strapped to a sturdy chair, which was fastened to a long wooden beam, and dunked into a body of water. A 1634 Virginia court case recorded that Betsey Tucker was punished in this way for “brabbling” or gossiping.
“TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” was a public-private partnership funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia, James City County and 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, with additional support from the Robins Foundation.