Learning from Historic Whitesbog Village

This fall we wrap up an important audience research study for historic Whitesbog Village. Alexander Balloon a consultant working with us for the last three years was the manager on this project and he writes about this project below.

Located on nearly 3,000 acres in the heart of the New Jersey Pinelands, Whitesbog Village is a place described as by early visitors as desolate, barren, and unforgiving. Today, this  state-owned historic site is managed by the Whitesbog Preservation Trust through a management agreement. Originally a family owned cranberry farm founded in 1857, the historic Whitesbog Village became world famous for its contributions to agriculture. In the early 1900’s Elizabeth White and her father cultivated the first wild blueberry for commercial production. With her success the farm at Whitesbog grew into a central production center for blueberries and cranberries complete with large-scale production facilities, worker’s cottages, company store, school house, and worker amenities.

Our audience research and evaluation study highlighted a number of interesting findings. Visitors to this historic site had a variety of interests including historic preservation, folklore and folklife of the Pinelands, and of course–blueberries. Incorporating some of the many themes of Whitesbog into programs for both structured and unstructured experiences presents tremendous opportunities for increased interpretation. Our on-line survey asked respondents why they visited historic sites and what their motivation was. Over 267 people responded to our survey and they listed their motivations for visiting an historic site, from most popular to least interesting below.

We are wrapping up our report and recommendations on the survey, which will  assist Whitesbog in future program development, planning, and evaluation. Consider how these program elements and motivations are incorporated into programs at your historic site and let us know how we can help with your audience research project.