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Friends Speaker Series

Sponsored by the Sherrin H. and Bruce A. Baky Foundation

As part of the Friends mission to provide interesting and compelling programming for the public, the annual Speaker Series is held in cooperation with the Washington Memorial Chapel. This series, which runs from October through May, gathers an array of historians, scientists, authors, archeologists, actors and performers to share with the public their multiple points of view on history, the natural world and the ongoing commemoration of Valley Forge.

Presentations are held at Washington Memorial Chapel, on Route 23 in Valley Forge, on Tuesdays at 7 pm. Free and open to the public. A reception follows each talk.

For directions to the Chapel, visit

Tuesday, March 3
Archaeology at Valley Forge

Jesse West-Rosenthal will explore the 1777–78 Revolutionary War winter encampment at Valley Forge as it has been illuminated by nearly sixty years of archaeological research. From Lexington and Concord to Yorktown, fighting for the newfound independence of the American colonies occupied soldiers for only a fraction of the eight years of the Revolutionary War. The archaeology of the American Revolution goes well beyond the battlefield locations that dot the American landscape. With soldiers spending up to six months of the year in encampments, places like Valley Forge offer researchers the opportunity to understand the time spent outside the fighting season.

This discussion will examine how the use of archaeological research has furthered our understanding of the execution of the encampment itself, as well as the lives of the troops we now venerate today. The presentation will include an overview of the history of archaeology conducted at Valley Forge, including details of recent excavations conducted at the Washington Memorial Chapel. Selected artifacts from the Washington Memorial Chapel site will be discussed and displayed.

About the Speaker

jesse west-rosenthal

Jesse West-Rosenthal, an archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate at Temple University in historical archaeology, has nearly ten years of experience excavating numerous sites from Pennsylvania to Virginia. His dissertation seeks to examine the evolution of eighteenth-century American military encampment tactics as they developed during the American Revolution. For the past five years, Mr. West-Rosenthal has served as the director of the excavation of an archaeological site at Washington Memorial Chapel. By comparing the findings here and information obtained from archaeology conducted elsewhere at Valley Forge to excavations conducted at the Morristown, Redding, New Windsor, and Fishkill encampments, Mr. West-Rosenthal seeks to develop a better understanding of the evolution of the Continental Army off the battlefield during the American Revolution.

April 7
Joel T. Fry
The Bartram Family: Plant Collectors in the 18th century
Joel T. Fry, the curator of Bartram Gardens, shares the story of the careers and travels of John and William Bartram, famed natural scientists and plant men, and the family garden.
May 5
to be announced