Making History Live at Jean Lafitte

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
History Lesson
Year Accomplished:

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve made history live in new ways and for new audiences in 2012. First, park staff launched the Battle of New Orleans Quest as an exciting way for the whole family to explore the American and British camps at Chalmette Battlefield during the battle's anniversary event in January 2012. Kids and their parents met the troops, learned about civilian life in 1815, and discovered the story of Chalmette Monument. A scavenger hunt crossed with a puzzle, the Quest challenged participants to answer historical questions. Each correct answer formed a clue to answer a final, big-picture question.

In April, the US Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and thousands of visitors commemorated the War of 1812's bicentennial with "NOLA Navy Week." Three talls ships and six warships from six nations docked along the New Orleans riverfront and events throughout the area reminded visitors of the war that proved that the American experiment in democracy was as effective in war as in peace. A special park program in Jackson Square, the heart of the French Quarter, returned the area to its original use as Place d'Armes, where military drills took place during the Spanish and French colonial periods. Rangers, volunteer reenactors, a period US Coast Guard color guard, and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from nearby Chalmette High School performed period drills and talked with visitors about how the War of 1812 shaped American history.

From May through July, the Barataria Preserve's wild wetlands was the scene of a series of ranger talks about the area's role in the Civil War. In those days, the preserve was plantation country, but the surrounding swamps and marshes provided refuge for escaped slaves who sometimes formed communities or reached out to the Underground Railroad. The talks also addressed the Civil War's aftermath and legacy, including the Reconstruction Period and the desegregation of New Orleans public schools in 1960.