Organizers wanted the Jamestown Festival to make a lasting contribution to the preservation and appreciation of Virginia's heritage. They sponsored extensive archival and archaeological research that provided a more complete picture of life in seventeenth-century Virginia. Projects included microfilming colonial documents from England, publishing a series of thirty-two historical booklets about the colony written by prominent scholars, excavating part of the town on Jamestown Island (though without locating the original fort), and completing a parkway that connected Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown.
Despite this new research, however, the festival still presented the history of the colony from the perspective of the white, male English settlers. Anniversary events and exhibitions portrayed them as pioneers who brought civilization to the wilderness, and established traditions of representative government, religion, free enterprise, and independence in the United States. The experience of African Americans, and the origins of slavery and its central role in the development of the colony, received little attention or representation.
The 350th anniversary of Jamestown took place during a period of social, cultural, and political upheaval. The United States was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union as well as in the midst of the civil rights movement. Virginia's state government had adopted the policy of Massive Resistance in 1956 in reaction to the United States Supreme Court's 1954 ruling against segregation in public schools in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Historians argue that these events influenced the festival's celebratory interpretation of colonial history.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
McLennan, S. Jamestown 350th Anniversary, 1957. (2012, January 18). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Jamestown_350th_Anniversary_1957.
- MLA Citation:
McLennan, Sarah. "Jamestown 350th Anniversary, 1957." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: October 31, 2008 | Last modified: January 18, 2012