Establishing colonies in North America took an astonishing amount of work. Colonists had to clear trees, eventually remove stumps from newly cleared fields, plant crops to eat and sell, weed and tend those crops, and then they had to harvest crops, and get the crops they intended to sell to the nearest market town, and that was just some of the work involved to establish colonial farms.
Colonists did not often perform this work on their own. They enlisted the help of children and neighbors, purchased enslaved people, and used animals.
Undra Jeter is the Bill and Jean Lane Director of Coach and Livestock at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He joins us to explore the animals English and British colonists brought with them to North America and used to build, run, and sustain their colonial farms and cities. Animals provided many benefits to early Americans, so Undra also shares information about the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s efforts to bring back the population numbers of some of these historic animal breeds through its rare breeds program.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.
Undra Jeter, the Bill and Jean Lane Director of Coach and Livestock at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, joins us to explore the animals English and British colonists brought with them to North America and used to build, run, and sustain their colonial farms and cities. As animals provided many benefits to early Americans, Undra is also here to share information about some of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s efforts to bring back the population numbers of some of these historic animal breeds through its rare breeds program.
During our investigation, Undra reveals details about the livestock English colonists brought with them to North America, as well as the indigenous North American animals they encountered; The work livestock performed on farms and in colonial urban sites like Williamsburg, Virginia; And, information about Colonial Williamsburg’s rare breeds program and why a living history museum like Colonial Williamsburg is working to help increase the population numbers of different historic animal breeds.
What You’ll Discover
- What the Coach and Livestock Department at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is responsible for
- What livestock early colonists brought with them
- Animals indigenous to Tidewater Virginia and the colonists’ relationship to them
- How colonists used livestock like horses and oxen in their daily lives
- How people in cities like Williamsburg used animals
- Where animals in cities were kept
- The gardens kept by the gentry and middling class people in cities, the role of chickens in the gardens, and who kept the gardens
- Gardens kept by enslaved people in Williamsburg
- How Revolutionary War battles near Williamsburg impacted livestock in the area
- The use of animals by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in the 1920s and 1930s
- What animals you can find at Colonial Williamsburg today
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s partnership with the Livestock Conservancy to choose the breeds it includes in its Rare Breeds Program
- The background of Cleveland Bay horses and why they are facing extinction
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s efforts to save the Cleveland Bay from extinction
- How donors and visitors help support the Cleveland Bay breeding program
- How horses are trained and developed at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
- Other rare breeds of sheep, cows, and chickens that are part of the Rare Breeds program
- The Randolph stables that are being created and how visitors can interact with them
- The kinds of things you might see on a behind-the-scenes tour of the stables at Colonial Williamsburg and other ways to experience livestock at Colonial Williamsburg
- How you can learn more about the Rare Breeds program online
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Rare Breeds at Colonial Williamsburg
- Randolph Stable Project at Colonial Williamsburg
- Livestock Conservancy
- The Cleveland Bay Horse Society
- Undra Jeter
- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
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- Factor Meals (Save 50 percent by using benfranklin50)
- Episode 067: John Ryan Fischer, An Environmental History of Early California & Hawaii
- Episode 168: Andrea Smalley, Wild By Nature: Colonists and Animals in North America
- Episode 187: Kenneth Cohen, Sport in Early America
- Episode 234: Richard Bushman, Farms & Farm Families in Early America
- Episode 275: Ingrid Tague, Pets in Early America
In your opinion, how might early America have been different if European colonists had never brought domesticated animals to North American shores?
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