Historian. Educator. Interpreter.
There are extraordinarily talented people who make Henricus Historical Park a prime destination for history lovers. Allow us to introduce you to Nicole Pisaniello — better known at Mistress Procter here in the Citie of Henricus. Like her colleagues, Nicole puts a great deal of time and energy into research to create an authentic 17th century experience. Learn more about our upcoming events and plan your visit today!
What is your position at Henricus Historical Park? And how long have you been a team member?
My official title is ‘Domestic Skills Interpreter’. I demonstrate the roll of a woman in the early years of tobacco plantations at the Henricus settlement. I’ve been here for four years as a full time employee and about two years previous to that as a contractor and volunteer.
Do you interpret a particular historical figure? If so, who and what is the most interesting thing about this person?
On occasions I will assume the role of Alice Proctor who defended her home successfully during the 1622 Indian attacks. To me the most interesting thing about Alice is that she is a consistent deviation from what we see from most women in the Colony. Typically a woman would have been thought of as secondary to her husband, but Alice holds her own. We have very little written facts about her, and all of those facts pose more questions about who she was as a person.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in the Richmond area?
Originally I’m from New Jersey, but I’ve been living in Virginia since I was six.
Who or what inspired your love of history?
My love of history was fostered by many great history teachers early on, but I really connect to history through art, and through the more mundane tasks of how people lived and interacted with each other, and what they believed, rather than through dates and battles.
If you could change one historical event in 1600 Virginia, what would it be and why?
You can’t change history or you risk changing the present. Didn’t Marty McFly teach us anything?! I don’t think there’s anything I would change, I only wish more had been documented and written down so that we’d have a clearer picture of what life was like then. It would have been cool if the Powhatan Indians had a written language so that we could know Virginia history from their point of view rather than just the English.
What do you feel makes Henricus Historical Park special?
Definitely our staff. We have a small group, but each of us brings something different to the park, and we are somehow able to do what most parks require a staff of fifty or more to accomplish. Each of us is always coming up with a new and creative way to demonstrate history to the public and allow them to think about history from a different angle. We do most of the work on site ourselves, so those dirt stains and holes in our period clothing are actually from working the farm rather than just pretending to work it. I think this makes the experience more authentic and interesting for visitors.