Hamlin's example was inspiring

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Hamlin's example was inspiring

November 22, 1995
By Pamela Cressey

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Pamela Malcolm Hamlin, who died earlier this year, is pictured teaching historic dance steps to children at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners, we give thanks for the abundance around us and for those who have contributed to our lives and community. Although we may worry as individuals about the deferral furlough, unemployment or poor health, let’s not forget to say a sincere thank you to those who enrich our world.

This Thanksgiving I want to write a special thank you to an individual who gave so much, and yet is no longer here to thank in person. Pamela Malcolm Hamlin, Assistant Director of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, contributed her time, enthusiasm and creativity for seven years in order to enhance children’s experience of the past. The lives of Pam and her mother were tragically ended in a car accident on June 3, 1995. Yet, her work lives on.

Those of us volunteering and working to preserve, study and interpret Alexandria’s heritage know that we are assisting in a task far greater than each. The importance of Alexandria’s history is not in the myriad of artifacts washed, documents searched, children taught; but, the whole experience of the past which is evoked for millions of people each year. Pam’s contribution enriched thousands of children visiting Gadsby’s, and her legacy will continue to make history meaningful.

Monta Lee Dakin, the Director of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, said that Pam combined her own love of history with her mother’s award winning style of teaching. Pam believed strongly that children need a sense of history to understand their place in the world. She worked to improve the educational programs at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum because f her genuine commitment to children’s needs. She was convinced that true history could be fun. The children and teachers must have agreed, because school program attendance doubled at Gadsby’s under Pam’s leadership. Pam worked closely with teachers to tailor programs to fit their specific goals.

Pam pioneered the idea of a historic museum and a school becoming partners in education. Her "Perceptions of Alexandria History" outreach program united both art and social studies as children at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School created their projects which were exhibited at Gadsby’s. Monta Lee explained to me that Pam insisted that the students should take center stage in the exhibit and treated them like artists at the opening reception. Who knows how this experience may affect choices that the students make in the future?

There is so much to learn and enjoy at Gadsby’s. Come to a first person Time Travels program, take historic dance classes, enjoy a tavern candlelight tour, dance in period costumes at an 18th century masked ball, World War II victory celebration and 1950s sock hop. The Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society is using donations received in memory of Pam Hamlin for an on-line education program, which she had been creating. Call Gadsby’s at 703-838-4242 or visit at 134 North Royal Street. Educators may call Ruth Reeder at 703-838-4399 for information on combined group tours of Historic Alexandria sites.