Disguising herself as a man in order to fight, Massachusetts native Deborah Sampson (1760 – 1827) is the only woman known to have received a full pension for serving in the Continental Army fighting for American independence. Two years after an honorable discharge, Sampson married, lived as a farmer’s wife, and delivered lectures about her military experiences. What drove this Revolutionary’s break with tradition? How has our contemporary understanding of gender evolved the narrative about Sampson’s extraordinary life? And how is the history of gender expression in the Revolutionary period inspiring the work of Emilio Sosa, costume designer of American Repertory Theater’s upcoming production of 1776?
Explore these questions and more with A.R.T. and the Museum of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, PA) in this discussion with Emilio Sosa (1776 upcoming; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Tony Award nomination); and Alex Myers, a Sampson descendant, transgender advocate, and author of Revolutionary, a fictionalized novel based on Sampson’s story. Then visit the Museum’s special exhibition, When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807, to see Sampson’s wedding dress on loan from Historic New England and a recently discovered diary that reveals new details about her life.
Co-presented with the Museum of the American Revolution
Production Sponsors of 1776
Katie and Paul Buttenwieser
The Linda Hammett Ory & Andrew Ory Charitable Trust
Serena and Bill Lese
Education and Engagement Support of 1776
Additional Production Support of 1776
Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine
Janet and Irv Plotkin
Professor Mark V. Tushnet
Additional Education and Engagement Support of 1776
Bank of America
Fresh Sound Foundation
Klarman Family Foundation
Production Support of 1776 at Roundabout Theatre Company
A.R.T.: 1776 upcoming, ExtraOrdinary, The White Card, Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), O.P.C., Witness Uganda, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Best of Both Worlds. Broadway: Motown, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony nomination), Topdog/Underdog. Off-Broadway: Water by the Spoonful; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lucille Lortel and NAACP Theater Awards), 2econd Stage; The Capeman, Juan and John, Romeo and Juliet, Public Theater; The Misanthrope, All That I Will Ever Be, NYTW. Regional: Othello, Guthrie Theater; Ruined, Señor Discretion Himself (Helen Hayes Award nominee), Arena Stage; Twist, Alliance; Once on This Island, Center Stage.
Alex Myers is the author of Revolutionary (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Continental Divide (University of New Orleans Press, November 2019), and The Story of Silence (HarperCollins, July 2020). Myers came out as transgender in 1995, right before his senior year in high school. Since then, Alex has worked with schools and colleges to educate students, faculty, and administrators about gender identity as a transgender advocate. He has assisted dozens of schools as they redesign facilities, practices, and policies to be more gender inclusive. AlexMyerswriting.com
Tyler Rudd Putman
Tyler Rudd Putman is the Gallery Interpretation Manager at the Museum of the American Revolution. He holds a PhD and MA in American History from the University of Delaware, an MA in American Material Culture from the Winterthur Program, and a BA in Anthropology from Heidelberg College. His background includes work in public archaeology, the antiques trade, historical tailoring, and tall ship sailing. In 2014, he sailed aboard the Charles W. Morgan and across the Atlantic aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. He first worked for the Museum as a historic trades intern on the First Oval Office Project in 2013.
Deborah Sampson gown: Courtesy of Historic New England.
Mass Humanities receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this event do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.