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About Silas Deane Online

Join us at Silas Deane Online as we uncover the fascinating, little known and controversial biography of a "lost hero" of the American Revolution.

  • Take a virtual tour of his house in Wethersfield, Connecticut
  • Explore an extensive collection of artifacts and correspondence
  • Learn about his exciting, mysterious and tragic life in six lessons on the web
  • Study a comprehensive, interactive timeline of historical events
  • Refer to an extensive bibliography of references to Deane

Silas Deane Online establishes a working model of off-site, museum-based learning for high school history students. This web site harnesses digital technology to offer a thematic curricula cluster centered on the life and experiences of one of Connecticut's "lost heroes" of the American Revolution.

The core of the site is a cluster of lessons tied to the State of Connecticut's framework for high school American history, supported by digital and virtual reality images of the 1766 Silas Deane House (a National Historic Landmark), objects from the Museum's collections, and primary documents as well as a thoroughly researched and annotated bibliography with links to other sites. In each plan, Silas Deane is examined in comparison with better-known Revolutionary "heroes." Interactive learning modules such as Virtual Reality walk-throughs capture the essence of what it feels like to visit an historic site, and reveal the ways scholars and museum professionals glean information from artifacts and other primary sources in order to assemble and tell a story.

IMLS Funded Project

Read a review of Silas Deane Online in The Hartford Courant
Hero? Crook? Silas Deane, An Enigmatic Figure In State History,
Gets His Own Voluminous Website

February 5, 2005
By Steve Grant, Courant Staff Writer

Below is an excerpt of the article:

"Hero? Crook? Silas Deane, An Enigmatic Figure In State History, Gets His Own Voluminous Website
By Steve Grant, Courant Staff Writer
The Hartford Courant, February 5, 2005, Copyright 2005

… Deane, who may well deserve a better reputation, is an ideal figure for study. And a new website created by the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield is intended as a springboard for a fresh look at what the museum calls Connecticut's "lost hero" of the revolution.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, which includes Deane's house, is a popular field trip for elementary and middle school students in the area but is not generally a destination for Connecticut high school students. The online program will make Silas Deane available to them and others in Connecticut and around the country who could be interested in his story.

Silasdeaneonline.org was financed by a $40,600 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Literae Interactive Design of Mystic, a developer of websites, was a partner with the museum in developing the site.

There is plenty of room for research into Deane's life. There are no recent biographies, and major U.S. history texts ignore him. That is precisely why the museum sees its new website as a valuable tool, one that will allow researchers young and old to learn about a real but "undiscovered" Revolutionary War figure."

 

Thank you all a thousand times over.
For quite a while the Education staff at Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum had been regretting the fact that it was not able to tell the Silas Deane story to high school students. Except for the most local Wethersfield High School, whose students could hop on a bus, tour a house and ride the bus back in time for their next class in the high school building, visits to our museum by high school students were impossible due to scheduling and busing difficulties. We thought we had a great story to tell which fit perfectly into Revolutionary War social studies requirements, but had no audience.

Along came the announcement by IMLS of a grant for creative use of technology to offer history to a broader audience. Perfect! We applied for the grant and were rewarded in 2003 with funds to put our thoughts to work. The Museum staff started pulling together its knowledge of the story of Silas Deane, did additional research to extend the story and transcribed many primary documents to complete the story. The Museum formed a partnership with Literae Interactive, which provided the creative and technological skills to put the Silas Deane story online. Not only did their staff put the Museum’s lessons and document transcriptions on line, they came up with many creative details which enliven the site, including a virtual tour of the Deane House for those who cannot physically walk through its elegant front door. Throughout 2003 and 2004 the staffs of Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum and Literae Interactive have been working hard and are pleased to open this site in early 2005.

The road to this opening has included the help of many people. At the Museum Diane Cameron, Jennifer Eifrig, Donna Baron and Jan Peake have pulled together facts and stories. Mary Beth Manzi and Jessica Roberts were our talented and patient summer interns who typed and proofed the many documents for the site. Other museums and libraries have been most helpful in providing us with images of portraits, artifacts and pictures that illustrate the story of Silas Deane, most specifically: Kent-Delord Museum, The National Parks Service, Fort Ticonderoga Historic Site, Lewis Walpole Library, and our neighbor, the Wethersfield Historical Society as well as their mapmaker, Phil Lohman. Other images were acquired through the generosity of Steve Bartrick Antique Maps and Prints and the estate of photographer Fred Stein.

Our most important contributor has been the Connecticut Historical Society Museum which holds so many of the documents and artifacts of Connecticut resident Silas Deane. We are grateful to the CHS Museum’s staff in their Collections Department and the Library for all their help. The same is true for the staff of the Connecticut State Library and Museum that holds in its archives many documents concerning slavery and public records from the Revolutionary War period and beyond that now appear in Silas Deane Online. The Town Clerk of Wethersfield provided additional land records. The authentic 18th century musical sounds were provided by David and Ginger Hildebrand.

At Literae Interactive, Thomas Mitchell and Dorry Clay performed the gargantuan task of putting all this information on line in such a beautiful, creative and useful manner. They were also responsible for acquiring the talents of David Madacsi, videographer, who made the virtual the tour of the Deane House available for many to enjoy. We thank them as well as for obtaining the web hosting technology of Bob Patin. Thank you all a thousand times over and please forgive us if names have been inadvertently left off.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Wethersfield, Connecticut
December 2004

 

 


Silas Deane
Political Cartoon, 1783

 

Silas Deane
Attr. to William Johnson
Oil on canvas, c. 1766
Webb Deane Stevens
Museum

John Adams
by John Trumbull
Oil on Canvas, c. 1770
Smithsonian National
Portrait Gallery

George Washington
by Rembrandt Peale  
Oil on canvas, 1824
United States Senate Collection
George Washington:
Music for the First President
David and Ginger Hildebrand  
all rights reserved
The Colonial Music Institute

 

 
           
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