About MVEP


About Living History


Mississippi Valley Educational Programs


In 1996 Kent Goff, Tom Yancey, and Derek Clements created Mississippi Valley Educational Programs as an organization to present professional living history programs to schools, museums, parks, and other institutions. With the growth of living history as an educational tool, the variable quality of living history programs and re-enactors, we decided that forming an organization dedicated to professionalizing our impressions was an opportunity. A considerable amount of research, practice, time, and money goes into a single living history impression, but to what end? We chose to market ourselves to educational institutions and to use our skills and resources to integrate living history into the classroom. While other re-enactors call themselves living historians, we believe that a true Living Historian needs to perform to a higher standard than even a dedicated hobbyist. Additionally, the teaching points of the customer, the "learning objectives" for the audience we are employed to present to, are the focus of our presentations.

Many students and the public generally perceive history education as dull. We knew the fact that actual history is often more unbelievable and intriguing than the best fiction. Our previous experience demonstrated the public responded enthusiastically to good living history presentations, and that this ultimate multimedia could compete with all the entertainment options available to modern Americans on an equal basis. Living history provides the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and many vicarious experiences of the past. Handling reproduction artifacts and trying them out lets people feel as if they are touching the past instead of just looking at it through a glass case. Finally a good living historian is interactive unlike any computerized display or game.

A growing body of research literature on the use of living history as an educational tool is proof that many professional educators are recognizing the potential to use living history techniques as a teaching method. Some studies have shown incredible rates of information retention from programs, two to three times the retention of ordinary lectures. Given our academic and professional backgrounds, we believe that we could custom design living history programs specifically to teach the chosen learning objectives. (Click here for a bibliography.)

Our philosophy of living history is simple. We put the research effort into each program and the documentation required that would be the equivalent of a master's level paper. We focus on using good primary sources in our programs, and generally allow the audience to interpret. We do our best to present historical characters as they believed and thought, not as we wished they had. We use the finest reproduction artifacts available, many made by us, using authentic period materials and manufacturing techniques. We work closely with the customer to ensure the desired learning objectives are covered thoroughly in the program and that the material is appropriate for the audience. Finally, we make sure the program will be fun, and memorable for the audience.

Why use a contractor like MVEP to assist you in your educational mission? Putting together a living history impression is costly and time consuming, and not likely to be used every day (except at places like the Arkansas Territorial Restoration or Colonial Williamsburg.) We at MVEP have years of good (and bad) experience using living history as a teaching tool for age groups as diverse as kindergarten to senior citizens, rural and urban, professional educators and general public that is invaluable. Your institution avoids the capital outlay for equipment, staffing, training, and other expenses. For example, the clothing and equipment of a single Civil War soldier impression can cost more than $1200.00. MVEP can bring two or three soldiers, trained and experienced in living history presentations, equipped, and knowledgeable on the Civil War, to your institution for less that half that amount.