Living History

The living History program in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was conceived in a garage while eating a picnic lunch. This was during a break from moving a whole charter school to another location. The date was just before 9/11. Inside on picnic tables were two fathers chomping away and shooting the breeze. Jim Gale, Chief of Interpretation, suggested to playwright, Peter Charlot, that a Living History program about Professor Thomas Jaggar would be an excellent experience for Park visitors. Thomas Jaggar, though not as renowned as John Muir, Thomas Jefferson, or Ben Franklin, deserves to be at least recognized. Jaggar founded the first geologic observatory dedicated to saving lives. He also co-founded the Park itself. Jaggar’s vision, though his name is lost to history, is the individual who inspired the idea of predicting geologic hazards worldwide. His dream remains as urgent now as it did then.

The program, “A Walk into the Past,” introduces visitors to Professor Jaggar and his times. Since its inception in late 2005, the presentation has been seen by thousands of visitors. This is easier said than done. The experience takes place in a 16 by 18 foot underground laboratory that still has original seismographic equipment. The visitors experience April 13, 1912. The interpreters recognize the visitors as having come a long way by ship, train, horse, and carriage. This is 1st person Living-History. It is a remarkable instrument to engage the guests in reliving a time when women did not have the vote. There were only four airplanes in America. Teddy Roosevelt was running for president, and, the Red Sox won the World Series.

Dick as Professor Jagger

The program originally enlisted Peter Charlot as Professor Jaggar and Sandra McLees as Isabel Maxwell, but currently has Dick Hershberger portraying Professor Jaggar. The program runs every two weeks; check out our calendar for dates and times! The entire program is forty minutes.