Hands-on History

A list of selected 400th anniversary events, commemorations, and resources.

Virginia Thanksgiving Festival

Photo by Christine Lockerby

Virginia History Trails App

Visitors can access 20 different history trails across Virginia with more than 400 locations important to everything from Native American culture to the first representative democracy. 

1619: African Arrival Exhibition

Hampton History Museum. A permanent and traveling exhibition that tells the story of the first Africans—their home in Angola, how they ended up on a Spanish slave ship, and what is known about their lives in the new colony.

Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia

Runs through Jan. 5, 2020, Jamestown settlement. The story of the women of early Virginia told through rare artifacts, including unearthed personal accounts of these female pioneers.

New Virginians 1619-2019

Runs through Dec. 7, The Library of Virginia, Richmond. Video-recorded conversations with immigrants and refugees from more than 30 countries, in collaboration with Virginia Humanities.

Historic Jamestown: Democracy and Diversity

Historic Jamestown. New exhibitions and public programs on Jamestown Island, including a replica of the church where democracy began, and “Fort to Port,” which traces the fort’s evolution.


June 22-March 29, 2020, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond. An exploration of the African American experience from the arrival of the first Africans in 1619 to present day. 

Commemorative Ceremony of the First Representative Legislative Assembly 

July 30, Historic Jamestown and Jamestown SettlementA commemoration of the first representative assembly in the western hemisphere with members of today’s Virginia General Assembly and Congress.

Ships at the Jamestown Settlement living history museum.

Photo courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

International Forum on the Future of Representative Democracy 

July 31-Aug. 1, William and Mary, Williamsburg. Representatives from democracies around the world, including British Parliament members, U.S. Congressmen, and representatives from state legislatures nationwide come together to discuss the fragility of democracy.

African Arrival Commemoration and Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center Dedication 

Aug. 23-25, Fort Monroe, Hampton. Activities include a special gallery exhibition about the history of Point Comfort, a remembrance ceremony, historical tours, cultural demonstrations, and a concert featuring Rhiannon Giddens and Sounds of Blackness. 

1619: Making of America Summit 

Sept. 25-28, Norfolk State University. An interactive and multi-voiced exploration of the three founding cultures—Native, English, and African—and their contributions to America. 

Women’s Achieve Summit 

Oct. 14-15, Richmond. Co-sponsored by American Evolution and the Virginia Women’s Conference, this two-day summit will “honor women 400 years ago, today, and in the future.” 

Virginia Thanksgiving Festival 

Nov. 3, Berkeley Plantation, Charles City County. A reenactment of the very first Thanksgiving in 1619 with music, food, and Native American dances.

Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival 

Nov. 21-24, Byrd Theatre, Richmond. Screenings of Native American-affiliated classic and recently released films, with a spotlight on emerging filmmakers.

Read On

Deep dives into the history of Jamestown and America.

1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy (Basic) by James Horn  

The Birth of Black America:The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown (Carroll & Graf) by Tim Hashaw 

A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America (Basic) by James Horn 

Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin (Bloomsbury) by Joseph Kelly 

Jamestown, the Buried Truth (University Press of Virginia) by William Kelso 

The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s Maids for Virginia” (Atlantic Books) by Jennifer Potter

Before and After Jamestown (University Press of Florida) by Helen Rountree

This article originally appeared in our April 2019 issue. To learn more about Virginia’s commemoration of 1619, click here.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum