Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation board updated on 2019 Commemoration

Staff writer

It’s so far, so good when it comes to the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, a statewide 400th anniversary commemoration of several key events at Jamestown that shaped the history of Virginia and the United States.

The 2019 Commemoration recognizes the 400th anniversary of pivotal events in early American history. In 1619, English women were first recruited in sizable numbers to live in Jamestown. That year, the first recorded Africans were brought to the colony, and the first English representative legislative body in the North America convened.

In honor of those milestones, there are special exhibitions and programming, educational initiatives and more to be conducted under the banner of the 2019 Commemoration.

With the launch of its first major exhibition Tenacity, which chronicles the female experience in early Virginia history, on Saturday, the commemoration has been successful in attracting a fair bit of attention online and in the media.

As of September, the commemoration has secured 10,500 media placements, including 20 op-eds and 43 news releases, to generate 3.6 billion media impressions. The commemoration’s Youtube channel has gotten 13 million views, said commemoration director Kathy Spangler. Spangler spoke before the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation board of trustees at its twice-annual meeting Wednesday.

The commemoration’s Virginia History Trails app has been downloaded 13,000 times. The app features descriptions of more than 400 stories and 200 historic places throughout the state. The stories are organized into 20 themed trails dedicated to African American history, education, immigration and more.

The app, which cost a total of $550,000 to gather its information and develop, has found usage in Virginia classrooms, where it’s been utilized by some schools in their Virginia history curriculum.

“We’re really excited to see the utility in and outside of school,” Spangler said.

The commemoration has also relaunched its website with increased content and launched aestories.com, an online resources that includes user-submitted stories about peoples’ ancestors and communities, Spangler said.

The commemoration has held events which have helped improve its profile, such as its official launch in a ceremony held at the state capitol in Richmond Oct. 17, which was widely covered in the media, Spangler said. Godspeed, the recreated Jamestown Settlement ship, sailed up to Baltimore and Alexandria to help spread the word in October.

The commemoration also held a reception at the British embassy in Washington, D.C. to build awareness among congressional leaders and potential sponsors on Sept. 11, Spangler said.

“The evening was very successful,” she said.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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