Harpers Ferry NHP 75th Anniversary Speaker Series

logo stating Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 75th anniversary, 1944-2019
Harpers Ferry NHP 75th anniversary logo


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service in 2019!

In partnership with the Harpers Ferry Park Association, we are planning a monthly speaker series from February to November and a three-day event weekend on June 28-30.

Below you will find details about the monthly speaker series - including presenters, topics, dates, times, and locations. If you have any questions about the speaker series, contact us via email or call the park at 304-535-6298.


Monthly Speaker Series

For a full schedule of our 2019 events, please visit our online calendar!
Black Voices from Harpers Ferry
Date: February 9, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Camp Hill, Mather Training Center
Description: Former park ranger Guinevere Roper discusses her four decades of work uncovering the African American story at Harpers Ferry. Ms. Roper’s ground-breaking research shepherded interpretive programs and the first park exhibit honoring the history of Storer College—the first institution of higher learning in West Virginia for African American students.
Women in the Ferry
Date: March 30, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Lower Town
Description: This Woman’s History Month program features stories of writers and artists, slaveholders and those enslaved, witnesses to John Brown’s Raid and the Civil War, business owners and civilians, and the teachers and students of West Virginia’s first historically black college.
The Birds of Virginius Island
Date: April 27, 2019
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Lower Town, The Green
Description: Step outside onto today’s nature-filled Virginius Island for a bird-watching hike with Deb Hale, a local birding enthusiast and volunteer of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society. Bring your binoculars and see if you can spy a few of the 170 bird species of Harpers Ferry as you follow trails that weave past factory ruins and canals. Limited to 30 participants. Pre-registration is required be calling 304-535-2908.

The Machine in the Garden
Date: April 27, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Camp Hill, Mather Training Center
Description: Explore the drastic differences between the past and present of Virginius Island. Join former Harpers Ferry NHP archeologist Dr. Paul Shackel for a talk about how the 1990s study of Virginius Island informed our understanding of the location’s industrial and social history.
Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology
Date: May 25
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Lower Town, The Green
Description: Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, the Leverett and William Cutten Professor of the History of Technology at MIT, examines Harpers Ferry’s role in the industrial revolution - specifically John Hall’s success in the use of interchangeable parts, which created the “American System of Manufacturing.”
This program marks the 200th anniversary of John Hall’s arrival in Harpers Ferry.
75th Anniversary Weekend Celebrations
Dates: June 28 - June 30, 2019
Description: Harpers Ferry became a national monument in 1944. Join us for three days of special events and programs celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park!
2019 Harpers Ferry Night Sky Festival
Date: July 12, 2019
Time: 7:00 - 11:00 pm
Locations: Harpers Ferry Middle School and Murphy-Chambers Farm
Description: A core part of the NPS mission is to conserve the scenery of the nation’s majestic natural settings and historic landscapes, which includes the night sky. Join us for stargazing and an opportunity to learn more about the importance of protecting the night sky.
7:00 - 8:00: "Exploring the Night Sky in Your Own Backyard" Guest Speaker, Astrophotographer and Night Sky Enthusiast, Dr. Joyce Harman, Harpers Ferry Middle School Auditorium (1710 W Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425). Admission is free.
7:00 - 8:00: Kids' Program at the Harpers Ferry Middle School Cafeteria (1710 W Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425). Ages 5-12. Admission is free but please RSVP to 304-535-2301 in order to ensure adequate supplies. Special thanks to the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library for coordinating this part of the events!
Dusk - 11:00 pm: Star gazing activities after dusk at the nearby Murphy-Chambers Farm. Learn about the history of the Murphy-Chambers Farm and the NPS efforts to preserve it. View the night sky through telescopes or with the naked eye! Explore the craters of the moon and ponder the 50th anniversary of the moon landing! No astronomy experience required. Hobbyists welcome to bring their own telescopes and are encouraged to share their views. Not ADA accessible. Please no pets. This outdoor program is weather dependent and subject to cancellation on short notice. Inclement weather date for stargazing is Sat, July 13, 2019, dusk to 11 pm.
Slave Dwelling Project Public Talk
Date: August 17, 2019
2:00 pm | Lower Town
Description: Join Living History rangers and Joseph McGill, founder of the non-profit SlaveDwelling Project, for a public talk about the Allstadt Farm, its role during John Brown's Raid in 1859, and the preservation of extant slave dwellings.

The Slave Dwelling Project mission is “to bring historians, students, faculty, writers, legislators, organizations, corporations, artists and the general public together to educate, collaborate and organize resources to save these important collectibles of our American history.”
1862 Siege and Capture of Harpers Ferry
Date: September 14, 2019
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Bolivar Heights
Description: Historian and former Harpers Ferry ranger Kevin Pawlak leads a battlefield tour on Bolivar Heights, the scene of the largest surrender of US troops on this continent.

The Assault on Maryland Heights, the Naval Battery
Date: September 14, 2019
Time: 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Location: Maryland Heights Naval Battery
Description: Step back in time to September 1862 when the town fell to Confederate forces, experience breathtaking views, and discuss the significance of this battle. Join former park ranger Sam Cathey and living history volunteers at the Maryland Heights Naval Battery. A guided hike to the Naval Battery will start from The Green at 1:30 pm. You may also stop by the information or visitor center to pick up directions and a trail map.
160th Anniversary of John Brown’s Raid - Lower Town Walking Tour
Date: October 16, 2019
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Harpers Ferry NHP, Lower Town
Description: Join former park ranger David Fox for two tours commemorating the 160th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid. In the morning, meet on The Green for a walking tour of key locations of the 1859 raid.

160th Anniversary of John Brown’s Raid - Charles Town Walking Tour
Date: October 16, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Charles Town Court House in Charles Town, WV
Description: Join former park ranger David Fox for two tours commemorating the 160th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid. In the afternoon, join Mr. Fox in nearby Charles Town to learn about the aftermath of the raid and Brown’s trial and execution.
Sword of the Spirit
Date: November 2, 2019
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Old Opera House Theatre Company, Charles Town, WV
204 N George St Charles Town, West Virginia 25414
Purchase Tickets
Description: Join us for the final Harpers Ferry 75th anniversary speaker series event! Taking place on the 160th anniversary of the sentencing of John Brown, we invite you to the Sword of the Spirit play, which is just one example of how the history of Harpers Ferry has influenced the arts over time.

More about the event:
Sword of the Spirit: A one-act play based upon the life and letters of John & Mary Brown, by Greg Artzner, Terry Leonino, and Richard Henzel.

The time is the end of November, 1859. The place is the county jail in Charlestown, Virginia, (today West Virginia), and also the home of abolitionist Lucretia Mott near Philadelphia.

John Brown has spent the last forty days of his life in the jail cell. During this time he has received many visitors, given interviews and composed over one hundred letters to acquaintances, friends, and members of his family, including his wife, Mary. At rise Brown addresses the audience. They are one last "interview" he has agreed to give. He tells them his story, expounding on his life, his beliefs, and what he considers his God-given mission to destroy the evil of slavery.

From another part of the stage Mary writes to him from Lucretia Mott’s home, where she has stopped on her journey to see him one last time. She also addresses the audience directly, telling the story of her life with her famous husband to "Mrs. Mott."

For more information on the play and Magpie - Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino, visit their website: https://www.magpiemusic.com/sword-of-the-spirit.html.

Sponsors of the event:
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry Park Association
Old Opera House Theatre Company

Last updated: October 11, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


(304) 535-6029

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