Living on the Edge of Empire: Alliance, Conflict and Captivity in Colonial New England


An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop in Deerfield, Massachusetts, held  July 10-15 or July 24-29, 2022.

One of the best NEH programs I’ve attended… It was incredibly well thought out, effectively presented, and enlightening”

Presented by the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, the Living on the Edge of Empire workshop places the Deerfield Raid of 1704 in the broader context of the history of colonial New England. To learn more about the time period, see the Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704

For a century from 1660 to 1760, the bucolic New England village of Deerfield was a crossroads where differing visions and ambitions of diverse Native American nations and European colonial empires interacted peacefully and clashed violently. During a memorable three-hour span in the early 1700s, the town stood at the center of the struggle to control the continent. To travel back in time early on the morning of February 29, 1704, would be to encounter the flicker of flames and smell of smoke and gun powder; the air would be filled with a cacophony of French, English, and Native voices mixed with battle sounds, cries of despair, and cries of triumph. French, English, Native Americans, Africans, men, women, children, soldiers, ministers, farmers, and traders….all were there on that fateful day.  By mid-day over 70 residents and attackers were dead; while 112 men, women, and children were being hurried out of the burning village by their French and Native captors.  The 1704 Raid on Deerfield is a doorway to a fascinating and important part of American history.  It was an event rooted in religious conflicts, personal and family retribution, alliance and kinship ties.  The Raid on Deerfield and the colonial world that produced it, helped to create a distinctive American identity and world view that became a backdrop for the American Revolution.

Workshop scholars will explore global issues while also considering ways in which this history can offer a compelling entry point for teaching the complexities of the early American colonial period and the many cultural groups who comprised it –Native nations, enslaved Africans, the French, and English settlers.

PVMA’s Deerfield Teachers’ Center has delivered high-caliber American history and humanities content to over 1000 educators.  Our programs delve into topics presented by leading scholars in combination with sessions assisting teachers to integrate historical and cultural understandings into engaging and meaningful K-12 lessons.  We invite you to come to Deerfield, Massachusetts, to explore the rich colonial history of the region through interactions with landscape, objects, images, documents, and living history. Join us as we study together the shared experiences of “living on the edge of empire” and consider the role those experiences played in helping to forge a distinctly American identity and, ultimately, a new nation. We look forward to meeting you!

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.