Alexander Hamilton’s First Bank
Alexander Hamilton’s First Bank is directly across Third Street from the Museum of the American Revolution. (Photo by the Museum of the American Revolution)
Laila Jerkins and Bailey Cherry
PHILADELPHIA >> Cheltenham Township resident Laila Jerkins, 16, and King of Prussia resident Bailey Cherry, 14, are two of eight local teens who participated in this summer’s return of the Museum of the American Revolution’s Living History Youth Summer Institute, a six-week intensive course for young adults interested in interpreting the lives of people of African ancestry in the Revolutionary era.
The Summer Institute
This year’s program, which ran from July 5 to August 11, introduced eight local participants to the museum field and the world of costumed historical interpretation, with a focus on enslaved and free people of African descent.
African American Interpretive Program
Launched in 2022, the Summer Institute aims to cultivate and support a more diverse community of people engaged in the museum field. It is part of the Museum’s African American Interpretive Program, sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, which the Museum launched in 2021 to significantly expand its capacity to develop and deliver programs that explore the lives, experiences, and impact of Revolutionary-era people of African descent.
The program included weekly offsite research trips to sites like the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, NJ; the Dennis Farm in Susquehanna, PA; the Betsy Ross House; Historic Germantown; and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
The summer institute culminated with a free, open-to-public capstone experience on the lawn outside The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Here, students set up the museum’s replica of George Washington’s Revolutionary War encampment, dressed in 18th-century clothing, and demonstrated alongside museum staff what life was like for Washington and the soldiers, camp followers, and free and enslaved people who traveled with him on campaign.
“We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of young people who are fully engaged and significantly contributing to all facets of this year’s Living History Youth Summer Institute,” said Michael Idriss, the Museum’s African American Interpretive Fellow. “It has been a blast to watch them gain knowledge about historical costumed interpretation, career paths in the museum field, and the importance of being a good storyteller, especially in communicating the work of both free and enslaved people of African descent. I’m impressed by their quick progress and proud to be working with them.”
Sponsorship and Support
The Museum’s African American Interpretive Program is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal. Additional support for the Living History Youth Summer Institute provided by the Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation in honor of Morris W. Offit, Bergman Foundation, and National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.