When you write Historical Fiction museums are resourceful and vital to the accuracy of your story.
During my research trip this past fall we stopped at several museums between Nevada and Massachusetts.
1st stop – Meteor Crater located in Winslow Arizona. http://www.meteorcrater.com/
About 50,000 years ago a meteor crater slammed into the Arizona desert. The crater measures close to one mile across and 2.4 miles in circumference. The 550 feet depth of the crater is a scientific exploration/training site for NASA. http://www.meteorcrater.com/NASA-Lands-at-Meteor-Crater
The History Channel is slated to air a program on the Meteor Crater in July of 2011.
2nd stop – The classic American Highway museum of Route 66 in Clinton, Oklahoma!http://www.route66.org/index2.html
This museum is a true walk through American History. Fun, exciting, informative and I have to say there was a lot of “I remember that”.
Regardless of what era you write in, this museum will provide true artifacts for the time period. While I was there new book ideas started brewing. The staff – wonderful!
3rd stop – Loretta Lynn’s Ranch,Hurricane Mills, Tennessee http://www.lorettalynnranch.net/main/
This is from my personal bucket list. When I was growing up my parents listened to Country music. I was exposed to all the greats at a very early age; Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton and more. Loretta Lynn has to be my all time favorite. While driving down Interstate 40 the billboard read: Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Driving the 7 miles off the freeway I couldn’t believe I was driving the car that made a left hand turn into her driveway (a 2 mile driveway). When I made the bend I saw the tip of her plantation home and goose bumps covered my body. I said “I wish my Mom could be here.” Due to time constraints we didn’t do the house tour, but to stand on her property and explore the grounds was an exciting moment in my life. One I’ll never forget.
4th Stop – Colonial Williamsburg Virginia http://www.history.org/
I could write an entire book just on Colonial Williamsburg alone. My purpose for visiting to experience everything in the 18th Century. I was there two days and it wasn’t enough. I could spend months there. The entire area is a living museum. An evening concert with Peter Pelham, the harpsichord musician for George Washington. My first museum stop was the Public Hospital 1773. This museum disturbed me. It was the first Insane Asylum Hospital in America. No pictures (thank goodness I don’t want those memories). Then we visited The Dewitt Wallace, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum a goldmine of information.
5th Stop – Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth Massachusetts http://www.pilgrimhall.org/
They do not allow pictures inside. This museum is home of items from the first settlers. The site of the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock and many monuments dedicated to them. There is a living plantation you can visit. Weather was not on our side this day so we didn’t get to explore it, but I think it would be worth a visit. The folks at the Visitors Center are excited to let you know where to go and what to see AND where to eat! Deborah Sampson is a descendant of William Bradford. In my research I found a picture of his chair that plays a part in my book. To see this chair up close… another goose bump moment.
6th Stop – Sharon Historical Society, Sharon Massachusetts http://www.sharonhistoricalsociety.org/
My entire trip was planned around Sharon Massachusetts. Home of Deborah Sampson Gannett. I contacted the Historical Society before I arrived. The museum curator Shirley Schofield is the gal to talk to about any and everything Deborah Sampson. She provided a wealth of documents and research material for me. I sat in Deborah Sampson’s table chair (although she never sat in it, she used it as a table.) A replica of her uniform, and her personal foot warmer (nice little added trinket to the novel)
7th Stop – Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown, Massachusetts
The first stop for the settlers, the tip of Cape Cod Massachusetts. Too vulnerable William Bradford sent John Alden and a few others to Plymouth to scout for a safer place to settle. The monument erected in 1910, is the location of the signing of the Mayflower Compact. It is an incredible experience to walk through the museum. Many of the settlers items are also housed in this museum. The monument stands 262 feet high, if you like you can take the stairway to the top. They say you can see Boston from up there. Not a fan of heights or cold windy weather didn’t climb the stairway.
Just a quick tour of the wonderful museums the United States has to offer.
Enjoy International Museum Day.
Teresa L. Watts