From One Generation to Another: Reenacting Community Makes Donation in the Name of Museum’s Biggest FanAugust 3, 2018
Earlier this year, when Todd Braisted, a historian based in Bergen County, New Jersey, caught sight of a Today show article about Oliver Theibault-Dean, the Museum’s seven-year-old super fan, he recognized himself as a curious child with a passion for the American Revolution. Braisted was so moved by Oliver’s curiosity and devotion to learning – and by his parents’ commitment to supporting his Revolutionary habit with weekly trips to the Museum and home-made Revolutionary-era clothing – he decided to do something.
With the power of Facebook and a strong network of friends in the reenacting and history community in the US and Canada, Braisted shared Oliver’s story and put out a call to raise money for a quality reproduction hat to top off Oliver’s homemade costume. Within 17 hours of his first post, Braisted had raised $1,300 in donations from more than 80 people. But that wasn’t all. Books, a new hat, a new coat and other items were added to the gift for Oliver to help him connect to the past.
On Saturday, August 4, 2018, Todd presented Oliver with a handsewn red wool coat, made by Henry Cooke, a historical costumer who outfitted the Museum’s tableau figures from his home studio in Massachusetts; a new Commander-in-Chief’s Guard hat, made by professional hatter Matthew Brenckle with bear skin donated by artist and historical interpreter Brandyn Charlton; and books and a free tour gifted by the Ft Plain Museum in New York. The $1,300 raised in Oliver’s name has been generously donated to the Museum by Oliver’s parents, and will go towards the Museum’s education program. The gift support refreshing and growing the Museum’s try-on clothing for children who visit with schools and their families throughout the year.
“People just see themselves in him,” Todd says when asked why Oliver’s story has moved him so. From one generation to the next, this collective act of kindness and solidarity will benefit every child that enters the Museum.