4 Ford’s Theatre Programs that Aren’t Just for Kids… or for Washingtonians!

Like many of my colleagues at Ford’s, I’m a total history buff. One of the best parts of my job is that I’m constantly learning more about Lincoln’s presidency, Civil War Washington and the countless politicians and leaders who have been inspired by Lincoln’s legacy. 

But I know that having great access to Lincoln history resources and scholars is out of the ordinary for most people. Many folks don’t live close to a museum like Ford’s or a city full of history like Washington, D.C. For some, delving into the past really only happened in their school history class. Once that opportunity is gone, what is left? 

Luckily, Ford’s Education is always working hard to make sure there are no barriers to learning about Lincoln – whether that be your distance or your age. Whether or not you’re a student, or live near Ford’s Theatre, you can take advantage of a plethora of our offerings. 

1. Virtual Investigation: Detective McDevitt 

Eric M. Messner as Detective James McDevitt in the Ford’s Theatre History on Foot walking tour, Investigation: Detective McDevitt. Photo by Gary Erskine.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Detective James McDevitt was actually on duty at the Washington Metropolitan Police headquarters, a half-block from Ford’s Theatre. Just before 10:30 p.m., frantic witnesses rushed in with horrifying news: President Lincoln had been shot at the theatre. With Investigation: Detective McDevitt, you will be taken on a journey to reexamine the clues from the investigation into the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy. 

This program isn’t just for students in a classroom. With this program, everyone must imagine themselves during a turning-point in American history. Investigation: Detective McDevitt is a great program to host with a group of fellow history fans at your home, local library or senior center! For more information on how to book a session ($125), visit http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/program-provider/fords-theater.

2. Virtual Reality TimeLooper App – Voices of the Petersen House

The TimeLooper app shows users the interior of the Petersen House. 

If you don’t have the time or space to host a program like Investigation: Detective McDevitt, you can still travel back in time using just your smart phone or tablet. Ford’s Theatre and our National Park Service colleagues recently partnered with TimeLooper, a virtual reality app, to step back in time inside the house where Lincoln died: the Petersen House. 

Using the TimeLooper app, you can virtually tour the Petersen House’s rooms and hear first-person accounts from those who were there. Experience the front parlor where Mary Lincoln waited inconsolably for updates about her husband’s condition, the back parlor where Secretary of War Edwin Stanton launched the manhunt for the president’s assassin and the “death room” where Lincoln drew his final breath. The best part? Virtual reality headsets are not required! TimeLooper is available on Google Play and in the App Store.

3. Ford’s Theatre on Google Arts and Culture

Using Google Arts and Culture, you can experience Ford’s Theatre in augmented reality. Get a 360-degree view of the box where Lincoln sat on April 14, 1865. Our team has developed several online “exhibits” like “The History of Ford’s Theatre,” “Abraham Lincoln’s Final Journey” and “The Conspirators.” 

Click the links above or head to http://artsandculture.google.com and search “Ford’s Theatre” to start exploring!

4. Remembering Lincoln 

A mourning ribbon commemorating President Lincoln. 

Remembering Lincoln is a digital archive of crowd-sourced primary sources that record how the nation mourned President Abraham Lincoln’s death. With Remembering Lincoln, you can search by state to discover how your own hometown’s newspaper or a local citizen reacted to the news that Lincoln had been shot. In the archive, you will find everything from personal handwritten letters to memorial ribbons from the funeral procession.

Remembering Lincoln is also a cool way you can personally contribute to Lincoln’s memory. Reach out to your local historical society and ask whether they have a letter or newspaper to contribute! With Remembering Lincoln, students and adults alike become historians.  

Anali Alegria is Communications Associate at Ford’s Theatre. She considers herself a life-long learner!