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Living History

Do you remember when history first captured your imagination? A couple members of our staff, and no doubt countless other Americans, caught the history bug while listening to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry read aloud when they were youngsters. Who can forget “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”—“Listen, my children, and you shall hear…”—or “The Song of Hiawatha”—“By the shores of Gitche Gumee/By the shining Big-SeaWater…”? At Longfellow House in Cambridge, Mass., the poet’s standup writing desk still occupies a corner of his study, his books and personal memorabilia are everywhere, and it is easy to imagine him reading aloud to his own children. “You feel this was a real home,” says Stephen Harrigan, who wrote “House of Fatherly Dreams,” p. 54. “You feel it is a place your family could move into tomorrow and enjoy a rich domestic life.” It is also a place where it is easy to imagine a previous master of the house, George Washington, meeting with his fellow revolutionaries when he lived there during the Siege of Boston in 1775. We’re interested in hearing about other places or moments that made history come alive for you. Write us at


Originally published in the June 2013 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.