November 16, 2019, on the campus of George Mason University (map)

**Scroll to the bottom to register.**  

Sign up for updates, including when registration opens and as sessions are added.

Want to present?  Great!  Two things to know up front: First, we all chip in to cover the cost of History Camp, so speakers register, just like everyone else.  Second, sharing information as broadly as possible is one of the fundamental principles of History Camp.  Some sessions may be recorded and all presenters are asked to post their slides.  If you have things that you don’t want to appear online (on YouTube or elsewhere), don’t include them in your slides or consider a different presentation.

If History Camp still sounds like it’s for you, and we hope it does, send us a session description (your name & contact info, session title, description and short bio) similar in style and content to what you see in the listings for prior History Camp Bostons or History Camp Colorados. We may edit what you send for clarity.

2019 Sessions

Indian Trade in the Southern Colonies
William Beau Robbins, living history interpreter, speaker, consultant and model for historical artists

Commerce between the British and indigenous peoples facilitated politically essential alliances, created a consumer base for European manufactured goods, sourced raw materials for the emerging European manufacturing core, and provided auxiliary military forces for the colony.  It also brought great societal change and transformation to these indigenous cultures by quickly shifting them from an agrarian subsistence economy to a global export economy.

With an emphasis on Virginia’s role and the Virginia frontier, this session will provide an opportunity to handle actual trade goods from the 18thcentury and learn eye-opening information that will help to deflate anachronistic archetypes surrounding Native American history.

Revolutionary Myths: The Importance of Reliable Primary Sources
Cahmbriel Ann Clackum, Podcast host, Patriot Podcast and Owner/operator of Victory Walking Tours

In the decades following the American Revolution, attempts to preserve the Revolutionary generation led to a series of fantastic stories by such men as Mason Locke “Parson” Weems. These myths, combined with numerous sourceless publications and the natural progression of time, have resulted in revolutionary myth becoming “fact” to intervening generations. This is especially visible in today’s world of social media, which the largely uninformed public then accepts as fact. Educating modern people about the American Revolution has been a lifelong desire only recently put into effect. In this session, I will explore common myths and accounts, present reliable primary sources that dispel or support these accounts, expound on their origins where possible, and urge listeners to join me in the quest for accuracy.

Through Jefferson’s Eyes – Reflections on Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment
Dave Dietrich, a former Director of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society

Thomas Jefferson has had an immense impact on the development of the United States.  His ideas have transcended the ages and withstood the test of time.  Reflecting upon Thomas Jefferson and his association with the Enlightenment is critical to understanding more fully the nature and influence of his ideas on modern America.

Dr. Joseph Warren and the Start of the American Revolution
Dr. Sam Forman, Historian and Author

Warren was a dynamic Boston Patriot leader early in the American Revolution. Lionized in his day as a politician, public speaker, physician, Mason, soldier, and ladies’ man, his legacy has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years. Join Dr. Warren’s biographer in revisiting a dynamic life from the Founding era.

This is a reprise of a popular talk from HistoryCamp’s first year.

Ill-Fated Frontier: An Epic Pioneer Adventure across Racial and Geographic Frontiers of the American Revolutionary Era
Dr. Sam Forman, Historian and Author

In this true American origin tale, North becomes South, by choice of some, compulsion of others, over fierce Indian resistance, and with Spanish encouragement. It is 1789. General “Black David” Forman, terror to the Tories and George Washington’s prickly eyes, ears, and bullying strong arm in the Northern New Jersey guerilla war, becomes disenchanted with his prospects in the post-Revolutionary War United States. He determines to dispatch his brother and sixty Afro-American slaves to claim a land grant in West Florida from America’s frenemy and erstwhile ally Spain. It is during the Northwest Indian War, when Natives have the upper hand. Will the Natives attack the pioneers? Will the enslaved revolten route? Are the Spanish colonials effective and have their own agenda? Suffice it to say that complications ensue.

A Documentary in the Making: Campaign 1777: The Year of the Hangman
C. Gerard Frankson, Documentary filmmaker

Join us for a sneak peek at the upcoming documentary “Campaign 1777: The Year of the Hangman” by Heartbeat in History, followed by a short Q&A session with the filmmaker.

First in war and first in the hearts of his countrymen: The rise and fall of the revolutionary, Dr. Joseph Warren
Christian Di Spigna, Historian

The talk will focus on all the new research discoveries about Warren including material culture pieces, artifacts and primary source documents. We will deconstruct the many Warren legends and myths and explore his resistance activities between 1765-1775 as he rose to the heights of power, demonstrating that Warren was a founding grandfather before most of the founding fathers had even joined the rebellion.

Susanna Bolling: The Girl Who Won the Revolutionary War
Libby McNamee, author, lawyer, and historian

Almost five years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution hung in the balance.  In late May 1781, General Cornwallis invaded City Point, Virginia, and quartered his army there. As 16-year-old Susanna Bolling served the British general and his officers dinner, she overheard their plans to capture General Lafayette and crush the American rebellion.  Under the cover of darkness, she snuck out of her house and canoed downriver.  Then she grabbed a neighbor’s horse and rode ten miles to warn Lafayette.  But would she make it undetected?   “Susanna’s Midnight Ride: The Girl Who Won the Revolutionary War” is an upper middle grade historical novel based on the TRUE story of this Virginia heroine, whose story is just becoming known to America, and the world.

Join this session as Libby shares Susanna’s story as well as the role of the Petticoat Patriots during the Revolutionary War.  The session will include her research materials and a variety of photos.

Carrying the Declaration of Independence
Karen A Chase, Author

Why was there just one “copy” of the Declaration with the signatures? Which Continental Congress delegates did not attend the formal signing on August 2, 1776? How were those signatures acquired? Once it was signed, where was the Declaration kept? Learn the history of the Declaration of Independence from 1776 until now, as discovered by Virginia Humanities 2019-2020 fellow and author of the Founding-Documents novel, Carrying Independence.

Abandoned History; Disappearing Historic and Cultural Sites of the East Coast
Ben Swenson, educator and journalist, website

Many sites that played an important role in the history of the United States get the attention and respect they deserve, but not all of them do. A project by journalist Ben Swenson has set out to document and tell the stories of the East Coast’s disappearing history, and how these sites became neglected. Follow Ben as he explores places such as a highway median where the most famous manhunt in U.S. history came to a close, and a run-down estate that includes the last building of its kind for hundreds of miles around.

First Four Surveys of the 36º 30′ Line of North Latitude and One Site Survey: Dividing Line between Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee
Lorna Hainesworth, Ambassador and National Traveler

How was the dividing line between these four states created? Why is the line between these four states so crooked? Where was the line supposed to be? What are the reasons for so many anomalies? Who is responsible for the dividing line? When did all this happen? Were there controversies or problems with the location of the line? If so, what resolutions were enacted? Given the technology we have today, why haven’t steps been taken to straighten the line? This session will present a talk on the dividing line between Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, which will describe all the relevant issues, sketch the historic figures who played a part in the surveys and the answer the above questions plus describe a little known survey conducted by Meriwether Lewis at the dividing line in November 1806 near present-day Cumberland Gap.

America’s First School for the Deaf: Facts and Myths
Kathleen L. Brockway, Deaf National Researcher, Author and Presenter

America’s first school for the deaf was established near Petersburg, Virginia.  We’ll discuss the fascinating stories of what happened to the deaf students from the school as well as some surprising links to prominent Americans.

The Culper Spy Ring: A Key to American Victory
Eliza Vegas, High school senior and History Lover!

When people think of the American Revolution, they tend to think of canons, muskets, and bayonets all used to slay the British enemy. However, how did America stay in the war before France came to their aid? They were ill-equipped, had a lack of soldiers, and a lack of proper training but there were covert operations in play as well. Spying was one of the keys to an American victory. There were many spy networks but one of the most renown was the Culper Spy Ring, which will be discussed in this presentation.

The Panama Canal: How the US Got It, and How the US Got Rid of It
Brian Moran, Amateur historian

This session will focus on the roughly 100-year span between the 1870’s and 1970’s during which the Panama Canal was planned, built, managed, and renegotiated. It will delve into historic ironies of how US and Panamanian leaders forged a quasi-colonial partnership that contributed significantly to the overall complexity of US-Latin American relations.

Balls Bluff, 1861: Big Lessons From a Relatively Small Battle
Brian Moran, Amateur historian

This session considers a lesser-known Civil War engagement in October 1861 at a cliff site called Balls Bluff, overlooking the Potomac River outside of Leesburg, Virginia. The battle of Balls Bluff is particularly poignant as a study in bad intelligence, flawed leadership, and unique terrain. The aftermath of the battle early in the war produced outsized repercussions in political Washington.

From Student to Warrior: A military history of the College of William and Mary
Wilford Kale, Author and Managing Editor at Botetourt Press

This is the only known military history of a “liberal arts” college or university in the U.S. It covers the school from its earliest student to the present-day ROTC program and military veterans at the institution. Two battles of two wars—Revolutionary and Civil—have been fought on or around the campus with other wars nearly closing the school when young men went off to fight. Also alumni have contributed significantly to U.S. war efforts from World War II to the Iraq invasion are included as vignettes.

The Politics of Independence
Michael Troy, Podcast host of American Revolution Podcast

When war began in 1775, few people thought independence was practical, or even a sane option.  A little over a year later, all thirteen colonies declared their independence from Britain. We will examine how and why both the population and the political leaders came to advocate for independence from the powerful British Empire.  Events, essays, and political strategy all played a role in the process.

Large Armies of foreign Mercenaries – Dispelling this myth for 45 Years
Ross Harold Schwalm, Historian, President, The Johannes Schwalm Historical Association

Although the leaders of the Continental Congress had good intelligence of what forces King George III was sending to America to fight the Continental Army, they did not understand that these “armies” were professional soldiers in disciplined units that were fulfilling longstanding treaty alliances.  The Continentals got a rude awakening on Long Island in August 1776 by the Hessian professional army.  The Johannes Schwalm Historical Association has been publishing history on the Hessian armies for 45 years to help correct the “Mercenaries” myth.

Operation Skywatch – The Ground Observer Corps and How Americans Went on Watch for Enemy Planes, Downed Aircraft, and UFOs
Deb Fuller, Educator and Historian

From 1951-1958, hundreds of thousands of Americans answered the call to Wake Up! Sign Up! Look Up! with the Ground Observer Corps (GOC). Like the Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) of World War II, the GOC was a civilian unit under the direction of the US Air Force. Observers as young as 7 years old and observers well into the 80s were part of the program as well as at least one pet dog and a goose. Volunteer observers manned local observation posts to spot enemy planes that might have slipped through the gaps of the national radar defense system. By 1955, there were over 19,000 observation posts and 73 filter centers that helped coordinate their efforts. While the GOC were not that effective as plane spotters, they were a central part of their communities and helped foster a sense of preparedness and local pride.

This presentation will look at the history of the GOC and how it fit into the Civil Defense activities of the 1950s. It will also contrast the role of Civil Defense in the 1950s with later years and how advertising and other promotional activities by the GOC helped to create a sense of community and preparedness.

Model Company: A new look at the common Civil War soldier 
Ben Myers, Author

Who was the common Civil War soldier? What did he look like? What did he do for a living before the war? How likely was he to be a casualty? Using recently discovered documents, we’ll take a unique look at Company D of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry to help us answer these questions and more.

1619-2019 the 400th Commemoration: The Arrival of the First Documented Africans in English North America
Ric Murphy, National Vice President for History, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and Author

In 2019, all Americans will celebrate an important milestone in American history, the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded Africans in English North America. Award winning author Ric Murphy, in his upcoming book, 1619: The Story of America’s First Africans will explain the historical context and significance of this occasion by looking back at the history and critical events that illuminate the perseverance and ingenuity of the extraordinary men, women and children.  Murphy’s extensive research documents the enduring legacy, a fascinating story of international colonialism, piracy, enslavement, the law of English headrights and colonial indentureship. In his presentation he will explain where the original “20 and Odd Africans” came from and how we know it; document the how and why they came to English North America; and prove that the original Africans were not enslaved people, and why that is important historically. He will weave together the misconceptions of our past and how it impacts our present day understanding of African and expanded American history. As the field of African American history has evolved over the past 50 years, so too has the body of knowledge for the life and times of African Americans during the colonial period. Murphy will explain why many present day African Americans are learning for the first time that they may be descended from these first Africans and/or those who arrived in English North America between 1619 and 1700.


This window is secured by 256 bit encryption on a PCI compliant network. Click here to view this window in its own page.

There are places on campus to buy lunch, restaurants nearby or you can pack a lunch and bring it with you.  Breakfast and afternoon snacks will be provided.


Are you coming into town for History Camp Virginia?  We have a block of rooms available for you to reserve at a small discount (rooms are $105 per night) at the Courtyard Fairfax Fair Oaks.  You can reserve a room here or by calling 800-321-2211 and mentioning History Camp Virginia to receive the discount.