Past Meeting

At our public meeting on Sunday, June 22, 2008 the featured presentation was:

Nancy Loane, Ph.D.

Love Letters from Valley Forge

by Nancy Loane, Ph.D.

The soldiers at the Valley Forge encampment of 1777-1778 were determined, courageous soldiers. Many of them were also lonesome, as beloved wives and cherished families had been left behind.

A lot of information about Valley Forge can be gained from reading the letters of the men to their families. What worried the men? What health problems did they have? What did the soldiers do in their spare time? How bad was it to live in a hut? Did the men of the army think they could win the war? What supplies did they lack?

By reading the letters written to home, you will get the answers to these questions and gain a first-hand glimpse of life in camp. You will also, in a more personal way, get to know the soldiers of the Continental Army and begin to appreciate their sacrifice and dedication. These were not cookie-cutter soldiers, but flesh-and-blood men who loved their country and loved their families until, as one soldier wrote, “death part us.”

“Love Letters from Valley Forge” is based on the letters in Joseph Lee Boyle’s Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment of the Continental Army, volumes 1-5. Heritage Books, Inc.


Biographical Information provided by Dr. Loane

Soon after moving to Pennsylvania, I visited Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park. I toured the small house, then casually asked the park ranger this question: “Did Martha Washington sleep here?” I was stunned to learn that she had. And so began an odyssey – it has become a passion – to research the ladies and women of the 1777-1778 Valley Forge encampment.

I am interested in primary research, and so have studied more than four hundred diaries, journals, letters, returns, orderly books, records, books and periodicals of the Revolutionary War period. In almost ten years of research I have spent countless hours at the library of the Valley Forge National Historical Park, the Pennsylvania Historical Society, and local historical societies. I’ve traveled to Mount Vernon, Colonial Willamsburg, Boston, and Philadelphia and to all but one of the eight Revolutionary War winter encampment sites. “The Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation” granted me funding to do additional primary research at the David Library of American History and at Mount Vernon. I participated in two archeological “digs” at Valley Forge to uncover relics at Revolutionary War officers’ huts, too.

In the past few years I have presented more than fifty lectures in four states about the women at the Valley Forge encampment, the letters of the men from camp, and Martha Washington. I was a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Speaker during 2006-2007. I also work independently as a step-on guide for tours of Valley Forge Park, have recorded information on Martha Washington for Valley Forge National Historical Park, and appeared in a documentary about the Valley Forge encampment. I have two articles published; one entitled “George Washington’s Housekeeper,” the other on three of the ladies who came to camp. I am hard at work on a scholarly piece on Martha Washington and have completed a book – currently in contract negotiations – about the women of the Valley Forge encampment.

  • Pennsylvania Commonwealth Speaker, 2006-2007
  • Founding member – American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia
  • Interpretive Volunteer, Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Step-on guide at Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Board member of The Friends of Valley Forge Park
  • Former Seasonal Park Ranger, Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Former Associate Professor, Miami-Dade Community College (Florida)

Page last updated: 2008-06-24 at 11:15 EDT
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