Calendar of David Library Events

David Library of the American Revolution Winter/Spring 2017 Lectures 

We are proud to present a series of lectures by David Library Fellows.  These are scholars who have been in residence at the David Library in recent years conducting research on an impressive array of projects, using DLAR’s unparalleled collections. 

Lectures are admission free, but reservations are required. Call 215.493.6776 x 100 or email  DLAR lectures are held in the Feinstone Conference Center at the David Library, 1201 River Road (Rt. 32), Washington Crossing, PA 18977.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – 7:30 PM – Ruma Chopra, Ph. D., Professor of History, San Jose State University: “Maroons in the Age of Slavery.”  Maroon societies were comprised of fugitive slaves and their descendants who occupied wilderness areas of the Americas in communities where they avoided discovery by soldiers or capture by slave hunters.  Maroons understood intimately the brutality of slavery and did everything possible to avoid association with a regime they equated with servility and death.  In this Black History Month Lecture, Professor Chopra will present research for her upcoming book that examines the resilience of Maroons exported to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. She is the author of Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City During the Revolution, and Choosing Sides: Loyalists in Revolutionary America. 

Monday, March 20, 2017  – 7:30 PM – Robert G. Parkinson, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of History, Binghamton University: "Making 'the Cause' Common.”   How did the Patriots convince the public they were right? Colonists in the 1770s did not know - or like - one another. How did the "Founding Fathers" convince enough people to sacrifice for their "cause"? Professor Parkinson, author of The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution, will explore how this problem became a desperate one after the shooting started in 1775. At the start of the fighting and all throughout the war, patriot leaders spent a great deal of time, money, and effort to convince the American public that their enemies were not just the British but also the King's "proxies," African Americans and Indians. The lecture will address this dark side of the "common cause" and its importance to ideas about who belonged - and who didn't - at the founding of the American republic.

Sunday, March 26, 2017 – 3:00 PM – Patrick K. Spero, Ph. D., Librarian of the American Philosophical Society: “Creating Pennsylvania: The Wars, Rebellion, and Revolution that Made the Keystone State.” In his new book, In Frontier Country, Dr. Spero offers a new interpretation of Pennsylvania’s history during the colonial and revolutionary eras.  He argues that Pennsylvania’s development was forged on its frontiers through a series of formative but until now largely overlooked confrontations, including an eight-year-long border war between Maryland and Pennsylvania in the 1730s, the Seven Years’ War and conflicts with Native Americans in the 1750s, frontier rebellions in the 1760s, and wars Pennsylvania fought with Virginia and Connecticut in the 1770s over its western and northern borders.  These violent encounters created a distinctive “frontier society” on the eve of the American Revolution that transformed the once-peaceful colony of Pennsylvania into a “frontier country.”   

Sunday, April 9, 2017 – 3:00 PM – Carl Robert Keyes, Ph. D., Associate Professor of History and Director of the Women’s Studies Program, Assumption College:  “Patriotism, Partisanship, and Portraits of Thomas Jefferson:  The Story of America’s First National Advertising Campaign, 1800-1802.” This lecture weaves together two narratives:  the development of the first national advertising campaign and an historian’s work in the archives in pursuit of that story.  George Helmbold began marketing prints of Thomas Jefferson during the contentious election of 1800.  Over the course of the next two years he placed nearly 1500 advertisements in two dozen newspapers published in cities and towns throughout the United States.  Unlike efforts to market other memorabilia venerating American leaders in the quarter century after the Revolution, Helmbold relied on partisanship and a network of Democratic-Republic printers rather than invoking a spirit of patriotism and unity to entice customers to purchase his print of Jefferson.  Uncovering this story required careful archival work and skills navigating newspapers in several forms:  original issues, microfilm copies, and digitized surrogates.  In addition to examining Helmbold’s advertising campaign itself. Professor Keyes will discuss how the process of conducting research with such diverse sources ultimately shaped the project and his conclusions. He is the founder of “Adverts 250 Project,” a daily research blog examining advertisements published in an American newspapers 250 years ago (

Thursday, April 20, 2017 – 7:30 PM – Rebecca Brannon, Ph. D., Associate Professor of History, James Madison University: “From Faithless Tories to Beloved Friends: South Carolina’s Genius at Healing the Revolution.” Americans tend to forget how divided the country really was regarding the American Revolution.  Substantial numbers of Americans were Loyalists, and the War for Independence at times became a vicious guerilla war.  Yet after the Revolution, American Patriots chose to embrace the vast majority of Loyalists as friends and collaborators in building a new, independent, and democratic nation.  Why and how did they do it?  Professor Brannon, author of From Revolution to Reunion: The Reintegration of the South Carolina Loyalists,  will use her research on South Carolina to answer this question through stories of vicious divides and generous reconciliations.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 – 7:30 PM – Brett Goodin, Ph. D., the Margaret Henry Dabney Penick Postdoctoral Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution: “Victims of American Independence?”  Declaring independence from Great Britain inadvertently opened American sailors to capture and enslavement in the North African “Barbary States” of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Morocco. Between the years 1785 and 1815 approximately 500-700 American sailors were held as “white slaves,” primarily for ransom rather than labor, in North Africa. Among the most prolific American captives were Richard O’Brien and James Cathcart. Before captivity the pair served as privateers and in the Continental and Royal Navies during the American Revolution. During a decade of captivity in Algiers they leveraged that Revolutionary service, framing themselves as “victims of American independence,” to elicit sympathy from the American public and government officials. After the U.S. government spent almost 15% of its total revenue in 1795 to ransom the captives and secure a treaty with Algiers, O’Brien and Cathcart were sent back to North Africa as U.S. consuls to Algiers and Tripoli, where they planned and attempted a coup d'état during the First Barbary War with Tripoli.

Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 3:00 PM – Glenn F. Williams, Ph. D., Historian, U.S. Army Center of Military History : “Lord Dunmore’s Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era.” This presentation explains the causes and conduct of the last Indian War before the start of the American War for Independence.  Fought between the Colony of Virginia and a confederation of the Shawnee and Mingo Indians in the Ohio Country, many historians pay it little attention or misinterpret it and its historical significance.  However, John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, led the colony’s soldiers to victory in what was essentially a defensive war.  Dr. Williams will dispel many long-held beliefs about the conflict and the Battle of Point Pleasant, as well the organization, composition, and tactical doctrine of Virginia’s colonial militia before the Revolution.  Dr. Williams is the author Lord Dunmore’s War: the Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – 7:30 PM – Zara Anishanslin, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of History and Art History, University of Delaware: "Unraveling Empire: The Transatlantic Politics of Making Silk and Protest in the Revolutionary Era." Citizens of the British Empire who made and wore silk on both sides of the Atlantic played crucial roles in challenging parliamentary legislation after the Seven Years' War. In contemporaneous moments of protest, silk weavers in London rioted and marched to petition the king for duties against French silk, while Americans signed non-importation agreements, championed the wearing of homespun over English silk, and labored to produce their own American silk. Although they protested different issues, these English and American protestors--women as well as men--referenced the same ideological touchstones. And both imbued the weaving and wearing of that most symbolically luxurious of fabrics--silk--with political meaning. This talk by the author of Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World narrates the fascinating history of what silk production and consumption tells us about the unraveling of empire in the American revolutionary era.        

Wednesday, June 7, 2017  – 7:30 PM -  Holger Hoock, Ph. D., the J. Carroll Amundson Professor of British History, University of Pittsburgh: “Scars of Independence: Violence in the American Revolution.” Americans tend to portray the revolution and war for independence as a heroic tale, the triumph of high-minded ideals in the face of imperial overreach, and a unified, nation-building struggle. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the Founders did their best to encourage after the war. But Professor Hoock, author of the new book Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth, will demonstrate in this illustrated lecture that to understand the Revolution, it must be acknowledged that it was also a profoundly violent civil war. Drawing on extensive new research, Professor Hoock will take the audience into the streets and homes of Revolutionary America, onto battlefields, and inside prisons, to illustrate the terror that lay at the very heart of the Revolutionary project, and the battlefield atrocities, rape, and plunder that characterized the war across the thirteen colonies. He will also consider why and how the Revolution’s all-pervasive violence has been moved to the margins of the story as it is typically told. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 – 7:30 PM - Judith L. Van Buskirk, Associate Professor of History, SUNY Cortland: “Standing in their own Light: African American Patriots in the American Revolution.” African American soldiers moved from a society that accepted slavery as a given to a world that questioned slavery at every turn. Black revolutionary war soldiers played a major role in this development.  Their stories as revealed in the revolutionary war pension records show the high stakes choices and the new narratives of famous events, as well as the adventure, humor and persistence of the men who would not let their service be forgotten. Professor Van Buskirk is the author of Generous Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York, and a new book bearing the same title as this lecture.

Lower Makefield Historical Society Event at DLAR 

Sunday, June 4, 2017 - 3PM – The Lower Makefield Historical Society’s Annual Laura Prickett Lecture:  Author and historian Peter Osborne will present the results of his research on the Five Mile Woods Preserve located in Lower Makefield Township.  This includes the story of the people who lived there for the past three centuries, the context in which the Preserve was created beginning in the late 1970s, and its fascinating geological history. Mr. Osborne is the author of The Five Mile Woods Preserve: A History. 

All events will be held at the David Library, 1201 River Road (Rt. 32), Washington Crossing, PA 18977, 1.3 miles north of the Washington Crossing Bridge.

Friends of the David Library get invitations to additional events planned just for them.  Consider joining the Friends of the David Library with an annual gift of $300.  For more information, click here.

Saturday, May 20: Traverse the Ten Crucial Days

We are conducting a special all-day tour of the "Ten Crucial Days Historic District," the local sites that figured prominently in the Ten Crucial Days Campaign (December 25, 1776 - January 3, 1777) of the Revolutionary War. Led by two local historians, Larry Kidder and Roger Williams, the tour will convene at the David Library at 8AM, and conclude there by 6PM. Participants will travel by bus to retrace the movements of General Washington's troops beginning with the Crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776. Stops will include Washington Crossing Historic Park (Pennyslvania), Washington Crossing State Park, the city of Trenton, the Princeton Battlefield and the city of Princeton. There will also be a stop for lunch at an 18th Century tavern along the route. Cost of participating is $125. The fee includes the cost of the bus, lunch and courtesy donations to historic sites on the itinerary. It will be an invigorating and immersive experience. It will be held rain or shine, and will entail walking. For more information, or to register, call Brian Graziano at 215.493.6776 ext 100.