Informational session discusses Saratoga’s role in American Revolution
“Why is the 250th such a great time to be able to tell this story?” Roberts said. “...I think there were a lot of good things that were done during the bicentennial, and I think it shows that we have a stage here, a national or international stage, to tell our story. And the story isn’t just a military story. It’s a political story. It’s a cultural story. It’s the story of the women and children marching with the army. It’s the story of the Loyalists that were in Saratoga County. It’s the story of all of the German soldiers that were part of the Brunswickers that were part of Burgoyne army, the Native Voices that maybe we haven’t heard yet.”
PUBLISHED: January 28, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. | UPDATED: January 29, 2024, at 7:13 a.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation partnered with Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts recently for a Zoom presentation on Saratoga’s Role in the American Revolution.
Along with the historical insight, Roberts also provided more knowledge about the upcoming plans for the 250th Anniversary Celebration of the Battles of Saratoga, which will be taking place in 2027.
“The Foundation is excited to have Lauren talk with us about the upcoming plans to celebrate the Battles of Saratoga in 2027 and her recent panel discussion at the Smithsonian,” said Nicole Babie, Membership & Programs Director, in a release before the event. “This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of not only preserving architecture and landscape architecture but also the cultural heritage of our region.”
Appointed as the Chair of the Saratoga 250th Commission, Roberts shared it has been “all 250th since 2021” in preparation for such a big anniversary — and in preparation for the celebration Roberts shared she believes it’s important because it proved that there was a platform to get these stories out there,
“Why is the 250th such a great time to be able to tell this story?” Roberts said. “I usually ask this question when I’m talking about the 250th anniversary because I think there were a lot of good things that were done during the bicentennial, and I think it shows that we have a stage here, a national or international stage, to tell our story.
“And the story isn’t just a military story. It’s a political story. It’s a cultural story. It’s the story of the women and children marching with the army. It’s the story of the Loyalists that were in Saratoga County. It’s the story of all of the German soldiers that were part of the Brunswickers that were part of Burgoyne army, the Native Voices that maybe we haven’t heard yet. There are so many stories on an individual basis that can be told here. And that’s one of the things that we’re really looking to do.”
Saratoga County Supervisors also believed it was important that these stories be told and passed a resolution in July of 2021, creating the 13-member commission that is tasked with planning and organizing all of the ceremonies, events, activities and celebrations recognizing the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.
One thing this commission did to help guide them while preparing for the celebration was to identify three main goals or “guiding stars” to help them in their planning process, which were education, engagement, and preservation.
With these in mind, the commission has performed multiple initiatives like acquiring an 18th-century marquee-style tent, affectionately called the “Turning Point Tent,” which allows us to participate in various pre-existing events, serving as a focal point for educating people about revolutionary history.
“We want to make sure that the investments that we’re making during this commemorative period number one, lives long past that because we’re hoping that once we increase our heritage tourism it is something that will continue, and also that the next generation learns to understand and appreciate historic preservation,” Roberts shared.
“We are benefiting from the generations that came before us that preserved the battlefield, that preserves the Schuyler house, that built the monument, and we need to make sure that we’re teaching the next generation about historic preservation so that these sites are still available for us to visit when it’s the 300th anniversary.”
Another event the commission has put on leading up the the 250th celebration was a lecture series called Revolution on the Hudson. At least 100 people attended each event which was held in three different public parks in which speakers came to discuss different aspects of the Saratoga campaign for the Northern Campaign of 1777.
Each event had a different living historian, 18th-century Toys and Games for Kids, and included some civic groups and provided a platform for people to learn about the revolution on significant sites.
There is also an active pursuit to improve the tools that teachers have to bring the revolution to life for their students. In collaboration with the battlefields and the Living History Education Foundation, a workshop for 4th, 7th, and 11th-grade teachers in Saratoga County was organized and teachers were provided with 18th-century clothing and gear, along with training in drills and historical activities.
Another thing that Roberts shared they are going to make this history more consumable on a wide scale. By working with their friend’s group, Campaign for Saratoga250, a company called 360 XR, which has helped do several installations at historic sites on Long Island, has been contracted to assist with establishing augmented reality at sites to be able to tell the story of many different historic figures.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is expand the reach, broaden our audience, to see how many people we can get interested and how many more people we can reach,” Roberts said. “Not just people who are already interested in history, but people who may not know they can go to the battlefields for recreation activity.
“So, we decided we need to meet people where they are and where are they, they’re on their phones.”
The implementation of this technology is helpful on several different fronts, including allowing this history to make its way to people who can’t get on an actual site, providing aid to those who may be a visual learner among other things. The characters that are being brought to life are done so to make their stories more accessible.
One thing Roberts pointed out is the appearance of the characters looks more like video game characters, which was something done intentionally.
“That’s exactly what we want them to look like because that’s the demographic that we’re going after,” Roberts said regarding the character’s appearance. “Those younger generations are used to these types of characters, there are video games that include historical references. So, if you think that’s what it looks like that’s great, that’s what we’re going for.”
Another big project that the Commission had worked on was working with Darley Newman during her new series called Revolutionary Road Trips which she focuses on sites across the country that have amazing revolutionary stories to tell regarding the upcoming 250th anniversary. Newman was in the area for five days and filmed at a lot of historic sites as well as a lot of different places for food, entertainment and to try some mineral springs.
The episode will be coming out in the spring, and while there is no exact date it most likely will be late March or early April.
Roberts also shared Newman had invited her to come speak in Washington DC at the Smithsonian at the Ripley Center where she represented Saratoga and the state of New York. There were also representatives from New Jersey, South Carolina and Virginia who all got to chance to talk about their historic sites and you know what we thought were their favorite hidden gems there.
For more information about the 250th celebration, you can visit https://saratoga250.com/