Incubation Grant for Isaac Pearson House

Historical Society of Hamilton Township NJ

The New Jersey Council on the Humanities has provided the Historical Society of Hamilton Township with an Incubation Grant for the 1773 Isaac Pearson House, to assist with developing and prototyping educational activities to undertake at the site during its restoration and once it opens to the public. 


The site was saved from the destruction that accompanied new highways and development in the 1970s when it was purchased by Hamilton Township. Planning for its restoration and reuse as an experiential learning center/makerspace for Colonial-era trades/crafts and as a regional visitor center for the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area has just begun. However, the restoration will not be completed until 2023.


Our project will research and prototype humanities-based educational programming at the site now, as it undergoes years of archaeology, conservation of materials and restoration.  The project will answer this question: “How can we attract, engage, and build loyalty from two key audiences: Gen X and Gen Y adults; and African American adults with school children, through humanities-based programming?” We are focusing on these two audiences because Isaac Pearson’s Will shows he owned at least eight enslaved people when he died, and we want to be at the forefront of thoughtful, hands-on educational programming for contemporary African American families at this historic site. We have also selected Gen X and Y audiences because we want to understand them by asking them directly about their programming interests.


We are serving as the humanities scholar and will prepare an annotated bibliography of academic literature and best practices for historic site interpretation and diverse audience engagement. We will host two focus groups from the key audiences and develop, prototype, and evaluate at least four humanities related educational programs/experiences.  We will evaluate each educational program through surveys and a report. The focus groups are scheduled for February.