Quaint objects alone don't do justice, she says, to the richness and complexities of the Whitall House story.
The plantation on the
With the help of a crew of interns and volunteers, Janofsky, curator of the house-museum since 2012, is bringing more of these stories to light -- and finding new ways to tell them.
"This will be the kids' zone," she says, standing in a sunny kitchen where young visitors will be invited to write letters to Job and Sara, two children of
Trained volunteers will answer by snail mail, and their letters will describe what ordinary life was like for a family on a working plantation in colonial America.
(The Whitalls were Quakers and did not own slaves. But the family did have indentured servants, including a young Irishwoman whose life is a subject of Janofsky's research.)
The letter-writing idea came from
This unusual partnership is named in honor of the beloved previous curator,
"If you're going to have someone in the classroom talk about a career [in the field of history], who better than someone who's actually doing it in the field?" adds Carrigan, an architect of the partnership.
"I really enjoy the work," says intern
The 400-acre plantation included orchards, a shad fishery, and a lumberyard, all on a wooded bluff with a magnificent view of the
"The history is amazing," says Janofsky, who previously did work for the
Exhibits about the battle and the field hospital are on the first floor. On the renovated and reopened second floor, Janofsky has designed new exhibits about the themes of life and death at the Whitall House. The museum is free and open to the public from
The exhibit includes a "birthing chair" that's uncomfortable to look at, along with primitive (if ingenious) medical instruments on loan from
"The last thing I wanted was to only have period furniture in the exhibit. I don't think it really speaks to people," says Janofsky, 40, who lives in
Legend has it that, after a cannonball crashed through the wall of
There's little evidence this actually happened, "but we do know from several historical sources that she refused to leave," Janofsky says. "She was a 60-year-old woman who wanted to defend her home. She was incredibly strong, stubborn, and brave."
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