MAC offers lectures on local, New Jersey and American history, including programs that deal with maritime history, the Victorian era and World War II, for classroom and assembly halls as well as for libraries, community and senior centers. These programs can be the perfect pre-field trip orientation but are suitable as stand-alone experiences.   Most of MAC's programs are richly illustrated PowerPoint programs. Many come with pre- and post-lesson materials. MAC encourages schools and districts to plan a series of coordinated experiences for their students for maximum educational impact. 

Free Programs for Local Schools!*

*Free classroom and assembly programs available for schools in Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland Counties.

Minimum Expense for Maximum Education
MAC's high quality educational programs are available at no or low cost to schools.  A detailed price list is available.

Cape May and

Local History

  • Cape May History: A 400-year time capsule with an emphasis on how our location and environment helped shape our history and economy.

  • Cape May Oddities: From its founding to today, part of the charm of Cape May are the many unique, curious, and bizarre people, places and events that are part of our history and culture. 

  • Cape May on Fire: Beyond the story of ”The Great Inferno” that nearly destroyed Cape May in 1878, this program also deals with other significant 19th century fires in Cape May and the nation.

  • Analyzing Victorian Architecture: Looking through the lens of Victorian Cape May, students will learn how to identify over a half dozen major Victorian architectural styles and how Victorian architecture and interior design reflected Victorian lifestyle and philosophy.

  • Victorian Homes and Interiors: This program looks at how Victorian homes reflected the Victorians’ values and lifestyles, including a pictorial trip through the Emlen Physick Estate.

  • The Ghosts of Cape May: Cape May has attracted psychics and ghosts hunters and generated volumes on the spirits who inhabit the town. This illustrated lecture discusses that activity and the methods used to detect ghostly presence.

  • Tales of Olde Cape May: A costumed storyteller visits your classroom with a selection of stories from local history and folklore.

  • The Story of Henry Sawyer, Cape May’s Civil War Hero: The story of a common man who gained national fame for his uncommon exploits during the Civil War.

  • Underground Railroad in Cape May (in partnership with the Center for Community Arts): Learn about the part that Cape May played in the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman’s presence here in the early 1850s.

  • The Wildwoods and the Doo Wop Era: This presentation focuses on the post-WWII era and the Wildwoods’ heydays in the ‘50s and ‘60s as a Mecca for the architecture and music of the Doo Wop era. It features the unique architecture of the era centered on its motels and clubs.


Victorian Social

History and Culture

  • A Short History of Valentine’s Day: How did we get from St. Valentine to vinegar valentines? Learn how the Victorian’s changed our celebration of the holiday. A workshop to make your own Victorian card can be added.

  • British Victorian Literature: An introduction to English writers and their social commentary and critiques. This PowerPoint presentation highlights many of these classic works and their authors.

  • Ghostly Tales & Music: A MAC storyteller shares chilling ghost stories from the past two centuries, along with a creepy slide show and atmospheric music.

  • History of Halloween: Where does the celebration of our Halloween traditions come from? This PowerPoint looks at the ancient origins, Victorian adaptations and modern twists.

  • How the Other Half Lived: Learn how farmers, industrial workers, urban dwellers, immigrants and women achieved the American dream in Victorian society.

  • The Impact of Immigration: This program explains why immigrants chose to come to America and how they shaped the country.

  • The Impact of Industrialization: How the change from an agricultural to an industrial economy changed many aspects of America society during the 1800s.

  • The Impact of Inventions & Technology: Learn how inventions and innovations changed the way people lived during the 1800s.

  • Let’s Go Shopping:  An illustrated examination of the social and economic impact of the growing consumer culture in the Victorian Era.

  • School Days in the Victorian Era: What was school like in the Victorian era?  What subjects did children study? This program looks at these questions and compares and contrasts education in the Victorian era with education today.

  • The Victorian Civil War: Exploring the causes, events and results of the Civil War, this program also illustrates how it exemplified aspects of Victorian culture.

  • Understanding Victorian Life: Through photos, illustrations and artifacts, your students will learn about the Victorian lifestyle, with an emphasis on “then vs. now” comparison. 

  • Victorian Christmas Traditions: Trees, cards, carols and the very image of Santa Claus himself- your students will learn how these traditions spread to America from Victorian England.

  • Victorian Era American Literature: Some of the greatest classics of American literature were penned during the Victorian era and had a significant impact on social and political events. Included are Twain, Poe, Thoreau, Dickinson, Stowe, Melville, Baum, Whitman, Alcott and the Muckrakers.

  • Victorian Etiquette and Manners: Your students can learn the “hows” and “whys” of Victorian manners and etiquette.  A brief introduction to the Victorian Era and to the Emlen Physick Estate is included.

  • Victorian Love, Courtship and Marriage: What’s love got to do with it? This PowerPoint presentation looks at the traditions of courtship and marriage in the Victorian era.

  • Victorian Medicine: Learn about the great medical advances made during the Victorian era…and how much more progress was yet to come.

  • Victorian Recreations: Even at play, Victorians were proper.  Learn about socially acceptable recreations like ocean bathing, croquet, golf, tennis and bicycling in contrast to unacceptable amusements like gambling.

  • Victorian Spiritualism: The Victorian Era was a golden age for monsters, ghosts, spirits, séances and belief in the paranormal.  This program shows the many aspects of Victorian Spiritualism and why the Victorians were so willing to believe in the other side.

  • Victorian Vices: An expose of the underside of Victorian life, including sex and drugs and other vices.

  • Victorian Viewpoints on Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”: Beyond being a beloved part of our Christmas literature and part of the lore of Christmas, learn how “A Christmas Carol” illustrates the views and values of the Victorian lifestyle.


Lighthouse & Maritime

History Programs

  • The Beacon: The Cape May Lighthouse: A rich presentation on lighthouse lore with a particular focus on the Cape May Lighthouse and its history and restoration. This program is an ideal preparation for a Cape May Lighthouse climb. 

  • Cape May's Maritime Heritage: From Captain Mey to Today: Teaches students about the evolution and importance of whaling, recreational and commercial fishing, maritime trade and travel.

  • New Jersey Lighthouses: From the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware Bay & River, New Jersey’s coastlines are dotted with lighthouses, all of which have played a role in the state’s rich maritime history.



Programs on Cape May’s

Historic Role in

Homeland Defense

  • A Visit from Cape May’s Veterans: Several veterans will visit the classroom and discuss their military experiences

  • Cape May in World War I: An illustrated lecture on Cape May’s significant but underpublicized and thus underappreciated role in World War I.  Included are Naval Section Base Nine with its blimps, seaplanes and submarines, Cape Wissahickon, Hotel Cape May used as a hospital, and the ammunition test sites in the area.  World War I’s role in ending both the Victorian Era and Cape May’s Victorian Golden Age will also be explained.

  • Cape May in World War II: Located at the entrance to the strategically vital Delaware River and Bay, the Cape May area played an important role in the war, including homeland defense, anti-submarine warfare and training dive-bomber pilots. It played a similar role in World War I.

  • Defenders of the Delaware: An illustrated PowerPoint tour of the historic defenses of the Delaware River and Bay from the American Revolution through the Civil War to World War II, with details on the history and configuration of each fort.


Women’s History Programs

  • Herstory- Charting the Course: A look at seven women who led the way to equality and suffrage for women: Lucretia Mott, Sarah Josepha Hale, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul.

  • The '50s Woman: What a Difference a Century Makes: This program contrasts the lifestyle, social roles, and everyday life of women as they evolved over 100 years from 1850 to 1950.

  • The Fashions of the Downtown Abbey Era: This PowerPoint show looks at the very quick evolution of fashion as the Victorian era gives way to the Edwardian era and then the Jazz Age.

  • Two Women, Two Worlds: This PowerPoint program looks at the “upstairs” and “downstairs” life during the Victorian era and the opportunities available to the women who inhabited them.

  • Victorian Fashion Show: Enjoy a PowerPoint presentation on the evolution of Victorian women’s fashions, complemented by a display of period and reproduction pieces.

  • Victorian Women I: Life in the Cocoon: Victorian women of the upper classes were idealized as wives and mothers, but sheltered from the real world in the cocoon of their homes. Learn how the clothing of the Victorian women reflected their roles and evolved to suit an evolving lifestyle.

  • Victorian Women II: Shedding the Cocoon: As the Victorian era progressed, women began to shed their cocoons, and participate fully in society. Learn about the forces, movements and dozens of individuals involved in the evolution of Victorian women and their lifestyles.

  • What to Wear: Packing for a Voyage on the Titanic: This PowerPoint presentation looks at the passengers of the Titanic, from first class to steerage and what they wore on the fateful voyage.

Other Historical

and Cultural Programs

  • America:  God’s Chosen Nation:  From the Pilgrims through the Revolutionary War Civil War, Westward Expansion, waves of immigration and Spanish American War Americans have viewed themselves as God’s chosen people, as close to perfection as is humanly possible and a beacon for others to emulate.  Today this concept is a bit more debatable.  This illustrated program will present historic highlights used to support this viewpoint.

  • Classic Movies and The Stars of Yesteryear:  Explore the Golden Age of the American film industry via this presentation of the classic studios, stars and films of the era. Included will be a short history of film industry and the major and minor studios of the era.  Clips from classic films will highlight stars such as Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne.

  • Famous First Ladies:  Many of our First Ladies have made important contributions to not only their husband’s administration but the nation.  Others have been more infamous than famous.  Included are Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, Mary Lincoln, Edith Wilson and Elinore Roosevelt among others.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt:  His Domestic Policies:  During his four terms, FDR’s domestic policies had a tremendous impact on American political, economic and social history.  Emphasized is his expansion of national governmental power in dealing with the Depression.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt:  His Foreign Policies:  During his four terms, FDR’s foreign policy was often as impactful and controversial as his domestic policy.  Emphasis is on examination of his policies leading to and fighting World War II.

  • History of the Cold War:  An examination of the critical events of this worldwide conflict between Democracy/Capitalism and Communism and an analysis of why the free world eventually won.

  • Lessons from the Barbary Wars:  Explore the importance of understanding a different culture and its values the advantages of negotiating from a position of power, the importance of a navy, the principle of enlightened self-interest, the power of religion and economics, and much more.

  • POTUS Power:  An examination of the evolving and ever-increasing power of the Presidency focuses on key moments and administrations in this process.

  • Presidential Armageddons:  Several presidential elections have been viewed as changing the political, economic, and social direction of the nation.  Included in this examination are 1800, 1828, 1860, 1898, 1912 and 1932.

  • SCOTUS Pocus: An examination of the evolving and ever-increasing power of the Supreme Court focusing on key decisions and events in this process.

  • The Philippine-American War: America was involved in a controversial guerilla land war in a jungle in Southeast Asia against a people with little sense of nationalism and led by their version of George Washington almost half a century prior to Vietnam. It was our least known war. Learn what lessons might/should have been learned from this series of 3 wars.

  • The Splendid Little Spanish American War:  Victory in this 1898 conflict made the U.S. a leading world power.  There were other reasons why those who fought it thought it was “splendid:"  fought for noble reasons, brief, endorsed by the press, full of incidents proving God was on our side…and we won.  This illustrated presentation reviews this lesser known but highly significant war.

  • Top Presidents:  Historians and journalists love to play the presidential rating game.  The presentation compares those rankings over the years.

  • Underrated Presidents:  Some presidents just don’t seem to get their deserved high ranking over the years.  Who are they?  Why?


Music Programs

  • Music of Benny Goodman:  An in-depth review of the music of one of the iconic figures of the Big Band Era plus insights into the man.

  • Music of Frank Sinatra:  A sight and sound presentation on the memorable man and his music by a member of his orchestra.

  • Music of George Gershwin: An appreciation of the life and times of the composer who “made a lady out of Jazz.”

  • Music of Glenn Miller:  An in-depth review of the music many feel is synonymous with the Big Band Era plus insights into the man.

  • Music of Olde Cape May: Join John Philip Sousa for a sight and sound review of the popular music of the Victorian Era from his marches to Foster melodies that were played in the hotels and music pier of Victorian Cape May.

  • Music of the Civil War Era: Learn about the music that inspired the North and the South while also reflecting their competing cultures.

  • Music of the Spheres: Music of the heavens and earth from Pythagoras to the 20th century.

  • Music of the Victorian Era: illustrates the rich variety of music of the Victorian era from Sousa’s patriotic marches, to Stephen Foster’s minstrel songs, to the great classical works of the era, to the birth of jazz.

  • Music of the World’s Fairs: Americans love fairs. Starting with the 1st fair in 1876 in Philadelphia to New York City in 1939, this lecture presents an historical view with an emphasis on the musical evolution of our society. Presented by John Philip Sousa.

  • Music of World War I: A sight and sound presentation including both patriotic and popular works including Cohan, Sousa, and Berlin among others.

  • Music of World War II: describes the music that accompanied America's WWII experience.  Famous big bands and their leaders and vocalists are featured.

  • New Jersey Musicians: Featuring the varied talents of great popular artists of the past from the Garden State.

  • Nursery Rhymes: Designed especially for young audiences who sing and act out traditional songs and novelty tunes of childhood to piano accompaniment.

  • Sherlock Holmes and Music: An exploration of the musical references that appear in the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous and musically talented detective.

  • Supernatural Music I: Features music with fantastic and macabre themes from the classical masters, including many pieces still popular today.

  • Supernatural Music II:  More eerie music from the classical masters including musical references to the iconic writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

  • The Big Band Era: Recall the legendary bands for the Swing Era and their colorful leaders. Presented by an alumnus of Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians.

  • The Classical Masters - Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven: The lives, times and music of the big three of the classical era. This is the music of the “The Enlightened Age.”

  • Turn of the 20th Century American Music: Presenting music of Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, Ragtime and John Philip Sousa done in character by the March King himself. Can be presented in one or two parts.

  • Water Music: This life-giving element has been the inspiration for a multitude of musical works from the classics to popular pieces.


Living History Programs

  • A Visit with Dr. Emlen Physick: Dr. Physick in costume presents a brief introduction to himself, his family, his estate, Cape May, and the Victorian Era, and answers questions about his personal life and the history and lifestyle of the Victorians. Lots of interaction is encouraged, with students asked to explain modern concepts to the Victorian doctor.

  • A Visit with John Philip Sousa: A costumed interpreter and expert musician visits your class or band as John Philip Sousa, the Victorian March King.  Sousa tells of his life and music, and places an equal emphasis on the value of being a musician. 

  • A Visit with the Physick Family: Dr. Physick brings his mother and aunt to pay a call. The ladies provide a window into the world of Victorian women, while the good doctor equally represents the masculine domain of the era.

  • A Visit with President & Mrs. Benjamin Harrison: Our living history reenactors bring to life the President and his wife, and discuss their era, including their visits to Cape May. 

  • A Visit from Queen Victoria & Prince Albert: The Queen and her consort tell you about their life and times.

  • The Temperance Tempest: Dr. Physick moderates a debate over temperance and prohibition between a leader of Cape May’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union and a local saloon owner in Cape May circa 1890s. Extensive audience participation is encouraged.


For specific information and to schedule outreach programs, contact:
Director of Museum Education 
Melissa Palmer
609-224-6032 or


To schedule a field trip, contact Sandi Adams:

609-224-6043  or