The life of Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole (1752-1836), better known as Betsy Ross, is one of American legend. But legends are often shrouded in myth, hyperbole, exaggeration, and even outright untruths. Ross’s life at the time of the Revolutionary War is no different. What do we actually know about Betsy Ross? Where did she live and work, and what kind of flags did she make in her long lifetime? How did historical reenactment play a part in American Repertory Theater’s past production of Waitress, and how is a search for historical truth informing their upcoming revival of 1776?
Join A.R.T. and the Museum of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, PA) for a virtual museum visit and conversation with author and historian Dr. Marla R. Miller and actor Lenne Klingaman (Waitress National Tour), moderated by Sarah Schofield-Mansur, Assistant Director, Special Events & Programming at A.R.T., to uncover the facts and fictions associated with Ross and her contemporaries. Featuring insights from current scholarship on women’s history, discoveries in material culture studies, and reflections on Ross’s portrayal in Waitress, this event will explore Betsy Ross’s influence on the cultural memory of women’s contributions to the American Revolution.
Dr. Miller, Distinguished Professor of History at University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America, will present remarks on both the legendary Ross and her historical legacy. Then participants will join Miller and Klingaman, whose character Dawn in Waitress regularly moonlights as a Betsy interpreter, for a virtual behind-the-scenes visit to the collections at the Museum of the American Revolution. Dr. Aimee E. Newell, Museum Director of Collections and Exhibitions and author of A Stitch in Time: The Needlework of Aging Women in Antebellum America, will present the challenges of researching provenance for flags, textiles, and more. Newell will discuss real Revolutionary women’s lives through the use, preservation, and interpretation of these historical artifacts and how they continue to influence activists for women’s rights today.
Co-presented with the Museum of the American Revolution