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Friends Speaker Series

Sponsored by the Sherrin H. and Bruce A. Baky Foundation

As part of the Friends mission to provide interesting and compelling programming for the public, the annual Speaker Series is held in cooperation with the Washington Memorial Chapel. This series, which runs from October through May, gathers an array of historians, scientists, authors, archeologists, actors and performers to share with the public their multiple points of view on history, the natural world and the ongoing commemoration of Valley Forge.

October to April presentations are free and held at Washington Memorial Chapel, on Route 23 in Valley Forge, on Tuesdays at 7 pm. The May presentation will be held in the theater at Valley Forge. A complimentary reception follows each talk.

For directions to the Chapel, visit

November 3
Hercules, Washington’s Chef
as interpreted by Keith Henley

Presented in cooperation with the American Historical Theatre.

Considered something of a dandy, Hercules was chef to George Washington in New York, in Philadelphia, and at Mount Vernon. His accomplishments in culinary excellence were known throughout the colonies. Hercules’ inestimable talents led him to be a favorite of the Washington family, and as such he enjoyed privileges withheld from other slaves. Allowed to keep profits from the sale of left-over food, Hercules was able to dress extravagantly for his station and walked around freely with his gold-handled cane. Hercules fulfilled his duties with grace and efficiency until one day he disappeared from the Washington’s service, never to be heard from again. Once master of the kitchen, he now was master of his own destiny!

About the Speaker

Keith Henley as Hercules

Keith Henley’s background is one of great diversity. He graduated from South Carolina State College with a major in Chemistry and minor in mathematics and biology. Later, he went on to study Theatre Education at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey. He currently owns and operates J.O.Y. Productions, Queenie’s Homemade Sweets and Catering, and Alpha Designs. In addition, Henley is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for Folkloric Heritage Culture Arts Company Inc. of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Keith Henley began his historic interpretation career with Historic Philadelphia Inc. and has since worked for American Historical Theatre and History First Hand. He has also performed for the Smithsonian Associates Teaching American History program, Historic Germantown and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, as well as local libraries.

December 1
Kim Burdick
Seized in September: Delaware during the Revolutionary War
Delaware’s role in the Philadelphia Campaign – seldom-told, action-packed – as described by an award-winning public historian.
January 5
Bruce Mowday
September 11, 1777: The Battle of Brandywine
A popular author talks about the soldiers and civilians who shaped the first big battle of the Philadelphia Campaign and sent Congress fleeing.
February 2
Elizabeth Beatty
To the Last Extremity: Fort Mifflin’s Valiant Stand
Fort Mifflin’s site director shares the history, construction, and defense of the Delaware River Fort that the British bombarded for weeks during the Revolutionary War.
March 1
Dr. Susan Christoffersen
Economics of the Valley Forge Encampment
A university professor discusses the economics of the Valley Forge encampment and suggests how lessons learned from Washington’s army can inform our decisions today.
April 5
Mary Thompson
Mount Vernon during the Revolutionary War
The research librarian at Mount Vernon gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what was happening at Washington’s Virginia home during America’s long fight for freedom.
May 3
Todd Andrlik
Reporting the Revolutionary War
Revolutionary War news coverage, as reported in the eighteenth century newspapers of Britain and the United States, and shared by the award-winning author of Reporting the Revolutionary War.

Special Location: Park Theater  •  Tickets required
Friends Members and WM Chapel donors: FREE  •  Non-members: $20