Genesee Country Village & Museum to Host Civil War Living History Weekend

Visitors to Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M) for Civil War Living History Weekend on Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, will learn from the Museum’s own historical experts as well as historians and guest speakers from around the country about life in the Genesee Valley Region of New York State during America’s greatest conflict. 

GCV&M does not host opposing force fire demonstrations or reenactments; instead the Museum’s costumed historic interpreters, tradespeople, and special guests experts and scholars present engaging experiences steeped in the details of history relevant to New York State in the 1860s – and the impacts that continue to reverberate in modern life. 

See the relationship between President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass play out in real time, examine every detail of the garments Union soldiers wore into battle, smell coffee and bacon cooking over open fires, learn about women who disguised themselves as men to enlist, watch firing demonstrations and musket loading drills, fall in line with either the “Mumford ranks” or the “Caledonia ranks,” and so much more. 

Tickets for Civil War Living History Weekend are available online at 

Learn about female soldiers and spies 

Women took active roles in the Civil War, both on the home front maintaining households, trades, and tending farms, as well as on the battlefield – sometimes disguising themselves as men to join the fray. During this year’s Civil War Living History Weekend, guests can attend a panel discussion with guests Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller and Tracey McIntire focused on women in the Civil War who disguised themselves as men and took up arms to protect the Union. This panel will be moderated by V Spehar, host of Under the Desk News. 

No battles were fought in New York state, but the impact of the conflict was great. 

The inconsistency between America’s founding freedoms and the lived experience of enslaved persons was thrust into the consciousness of many throughout the country. While no battles took place in New York, more than 400,000 New Yorkers fought in the war and the state played a key role in the Abolitionist movement. Throughout the weekend, Museum interpreters, expert guest speakers, and performers will share stories of how the war impacted all residents of New York. Visitors can join Doug Oakes and Terri Olszowy from the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp for a fascinating talk about how the Elmira Prison Camp pivoted from a training facility for Union soldiers to holding for captured Confederates.

Explore the relationship between President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass 

Special guests President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (portrayed by Fritz Klein and David Shakes) will be on-site throughout the weekend to greet visitors, pose for “likenesses,” and discuss their historical collaboration to recruit and enlist People of Color. Those interested in learning more about Fritz Klein’s career depicting the 16th president of the United States and his method for such an uncanny portrayal are encouraged to purchase tickets for “Becoming Lincoln: An Evening with Fritz Klein” at GCV&M on Thursday, May 18. Learn more and purchase tickets online: 

Abolition, advocating for citizenship, and the experience of USTC 

Visitors can join guest expert Marvin-Alonzo Greer, Lead Historic Interpretation and Community Engagement Officer for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, for an exploration of Black Americans advocating for citizenship and the USCT (then known as the United States Colored Troops). Guests will also have the opportunity to explore the topic of abolition with Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma’s History. 

Civil War Living History Homeschool Day (Friday, May 19) 

Leading up to our Civil War Living History Weekend, homeschool families are invited to attend a Civil War Living History Homeschool Field Trip Day on Friday, May 19, from 1 – 4 p.m. Explore the impact of the Civil War on our nation and the actions New Yorkers took to engage in the momentous event. Meet Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, play Civil War-era games, explore abolition movements, learn about wartime communications in the Telegraph and Print Office, attend talks in Civil War fashions in the John L. Wehle Gallery, experience what it was like for soldiers to be recruited and trained, and so much more. Tickets for Civil War Living History Homeschool Day are available online at: 

Purchase tickets today 

Tickets for Civil War Living History Weekend are on sale now at Tickets are free for kids 3 years old and under.