Henricus Historical Park, a living history museum located on the James River 20 minutes from downtown Richmond, Virginia, re-creates both Colonial and Indian history of the early 17th century. Educational programs are available to both children — grades Pre-K-12 — and adults. Our programs focus not only on social studies and history, but also incorporate the sciences, technology, engineering and math – STEM Education — of that era. How could one fully appreciate the history of colonial Virginia without also understanding the Scientific Revolution that made it possible; or the mathematical calculations and the technological innovations that allowed explorers to sail the seas from England to Virginia.
During this time period, changes in religious and educational ideas also occurred. The Citie of Henricus saw the beginnings of American education. What would have been called the “Henricus Colledge” began as a nearby and short-lived “free school” that was meant to educate both English and Indian children. This was to be the beginning of integrated education: each child, regardless of race, would be educated up to the ability of that child. Unfortunately, this educational experiment ended with warfare between the two cultures in 1622 and would not be fully revived for many years.
One of the first “experiments” in integrated education began in 1613 with the education of the young Powhatan woman, Pocahontas, after her abduction by the English. She not only learned English and the Christian religion but what to eat, how to dress and how to act as an English woman; she even took on the English name of Rebecca. In 1614, she married the colonial tobacco grower John Rolfe.
The year 2017 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas. With the “Peace of Pocahontas” — a period of relative calm in the Virginia Colony due in part to their intra-cultural marriage — John and Rebecca Rolfe and their son Thomas sailed in 1616 to England to meet with King James I and Queen Anne. However, on their way back to Virginia, shortly after embarking on a return ship, Pocahontas took ill while traveling up the Thames River. She died at Gravesend, England in March 1617 at the age of about 21.
Henricus Historical Park will be presenting special events, talks and programs throughout the year commemorating Pocahontas/Rebecca Rolfe. For children grades two through six, we provide a two-hour school program: The Two Lives of Pocahontas. The program involves tours and hands-on activities in our re-created Colonial and Virginia Indian villages. Led by costumed re-enactors, it shows what Pocahontas’ life would have been like as both an Indian and as an English woman. Camp Pocahontas, a week-long full-day camp will welcome children, ages six to 10, to the life and times of Pocahontas. For adults, our three-hour education program The Life of Pocahontas, is available for group and college bookings beginning this summer. Family Events will be held in March and July with daylong activities and re-enactments of the Life and Times of Pocahontas.