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January 12, 2006

Colonial Williamsburg Journal discusses desperate circumstances of life in Jamestown

The early settlers at Jamestown took to eating their own to survive. Ivor Noël Hume examines the tragedy in the story, “We are starved,” in the winter edition of Colonial Williamsburg, the journal of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

“Next only to the arrival of the English in 1607 and their departure in 1781, the months of the winter of 1609-10, known as the Starving Time, rank atop the memorable events of Virginia’s history. Hundreds of settlers died for want of food. Some were reduced to cannibalism.”

In “Such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of,” Journal editor Dennis Montgomery recounts other tales of cannibalism.

Mark Nicholls, a fellow, tutor and librarian of St. John’s College, Cambridge, England, discusses that the English suspected the Indians might eat them in “Things which seame incredible”: Cannibalism in Early Jamestown.”

The winter 2007 edition of the journal focuses on America’s 400th Anniversary. Jeanne Zeidler, executive director of Jamestown 2007, discusses the partnerships throughout the Historic Triangle that make the observance possible in “Commemorating Jamestown’s 400 Years.” “Colonial Williamsburg’s sponsorship of the commemoration of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas at Jamestown in 1607 takes advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to focus the attention of the world on the significance events that occurred in this region and to explore the choices of the individuals who played a role, as well as the ideas and ideals associated with those times.”

In the “Message from the President,” Colonial Williamsburg President Colin Campbell discusses upcoming events, such as a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. “We are honored that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness are returning to the Historic Triangle–Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown—fifty years after her visit in 1957 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the settlement at Jamestown. It will be a particular privilege and pleasure to welcome her.”

Elsewhere in the issue can be found:

  • “The Land They Found: The First English Settlers Started Transformation of the Wilderness”— Richmond journalist Ed Crews details the rich landscape the settlers found when they arrived and why they called it a “wasteland”;
  • “The Alien and Sedition Acts”—Rutgers professor Jack Lynch discusses the 21st-century impact of the 18th-century legislation; and
  • “Reopening the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg”—Ronald L. Hurst, vice president of Colonial Williamsburg’s Collections and Museums and Carlisle Humelsine Chief Curator, talks about the preparation for the opening of the newly conjoined Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

    These articles and articles from previous issues are found online at Colonial Williamsburg can be purchased at Everything Williamsburg™ and Williamsburg Booksellers® at the Foundation’s Visitor Center. Complimentary copies of the printed magazine can be obtained and subscriptions ordered at

    Colonial Williamsburg, the journal of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is published six times a year by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The journal is a benefit to donors who contribute $35 a year or more and $8 is reserved for the subscription.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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