“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” – Nelson Mandela
Here in Gettysburg, we spend a lot of time preserving history and educating our visitors. We preserve monuments and artifacts, offer tours and programs, and tell the documented soldiers’ and civilians’ stories during the battle. We even recite the Gettysburg Address.
We have done an admirable job of preserving our history and educating the public about its significance at Gettysburg. One of the challenges, however, is reaching a younger audience. With the renovation of the Rupp House on Baltimore Street, the Gettysburg Foundation can now offer an exciting new venue to help educate younger generations.
Through the generosity of many donors and supporters, the Gettysburg Foundation will open this brand-new experience in Gettysburg specifically designed for children from kindergarten through fifth grade: Children of Gettysburg 1863.
Children of Gettysburg 1863 will take up permanent residence at the former Rupp House History Center located at 451 Baltimore Street in downtown Gettysburg. Opening Sept. 4, Children of Gettysburg 1863 tells the stories of Gettysburg’s young citizens – their bravery, their perseverance and their adventures.
The “interactive adventure for young historians,” Children of Gettysburg 1863 offers young visitors the opportunity to engage and explore the exhibits while learning about our history and the significance of Gettysburg.
Visitors will get to know 13-year-old Gettysburg resident William Bayly and learn of his efforts to save his family’s horses and his unsuccessful attempts to catch a glimpse of the battle.
Guests will meet brave nine-year-old Sadie Bushman who was thrust into duty helping Dr. Benjamin Lyford in the medical tents outside her grandparents’ home.
Families will hear 13-year-old Lydia Ziegler’s story. Daughter of the Lutheran Theological Seminary’s steward and matron, Lydia cared for wounded soldiers at the very place she called home.
Young visitors will learn about many more Children of Gettysburg 1863 during their visit – and a few surprise cameos from some older, perhaps better-known, historical residents, such as Basil Biggs and Elizabeth Thorn.
Thanks to the generous support and commitment of a local resident and his family, over the next five years, the Gettysburg Foundation is pleased to ensure children and youth through age 12 receive free admission to the new experience. And, Adams County school students can visit the new children’s history museum free of charge. This sponsorship ensures children can visit Children of Gettysburg 1863 and hopefully ignite a life-long love of history.
We believe children and youth will enjoy this unique history adventure as they hold, lift, hide, search and listen. They will find objects in the story scavenger hunt. They will discover what children experienced at Gettysburg in 1863. They may even recite the Gettysburg Address.
Most importantly, we hope children enjoy this experience of discovery and creativity with their families and school classes and take home an appreciation for Gettysburg’s stories and lessons that inspire us all. It is an experience for families and groups to enjoy together.
It is not a coincidence this new Gettysburg adventure is headquartered at the Rupp House. John Rupp and his wife Caroline lived in the house with their six children during the Battle of Gettysburg. It was truly a family home – and it still is.
President, Gettysburg Foundation
First appeared in the Gettysburg Foundation's column in the Aug. 23, 2021, edition of the Gettysburg Times.