Friday, April 28, 2017

Engaging Millennials? There’s an App For That!

Or in this case, a few dozens of multi-colored sticky notes…

My attention span concerning most things lasts about five seconds, ten if I’m lucky. A quick cursory glance at the TV as I change a picture’s filter, my cramped fingers nimbly scrolling through pictures from last night during a lecture— you get the picture. The ironic thing is, I didn’t realize how stunted my concentration really was until Dr. Sarah Minegar assigned myself and Centennial SCA Abigail Parsons with a challenge: how long could we go without tapping the home buttons on our smartphones? How long could our attention spans last before we checked back into technology? The answer is about fifteen minutes, excluding sports practice of course. It was with this tricky task that our process of prototyping began.

Headed by Dr. Sarah Minegar, myself, Abigail, and fellow intern Joshua Knighten, our brainstorming sessions began with a copious amount of colorful sticky notes and, more importantly, energy boosting candy. Our mission seemed simple enough: to seek out new ways in contesting flaky millennial engagement when at Morristown’s park (i.e. that 200+ year old cannon is way cooler than your next tweet, but how do we engage you into focusing on it?). The answer, we quickly realized, was not to discard technology from the equation, but to include and consider it as part of each student’s life. Kind of like a third arm, a functioning part of who they are. If you removed an arm, you would find it difficult to function. The same goes for what has become— especially in the lives of younger millennials— an integrated part of their day-to-day routine: technology.

The process of learning and research in conjunction with technology— specifically in this case, cell phone and computer access— is possible! But to do so, a greater understanding of a broad range of personality types was needed, and there are many! The quiet one, the jokester, the too-cool-for-school (or in this case “museum tours”) crew— a variety of personalities that, funnily enough, were the most evident in high school kids (at least in my experience). With our personality types and learning styles gathered and assembled cutely on a rainbow of Post-It notes, our true prototyping challenge began: how do we creatively engage a expansive group of personalities, all with different needs? The answer was a huge conglomeration of posters, sticky notes (including my favorite, the mustache Post-Its), and a whole lot of brainstorming. One of the most important elements developed by our awesome team were the ever helpful Focus Cards. Breaking students up into smaller teams, these cards would aid each individual in the task of concentrating on a sole motif, which they could then discuss with their group. When combined, the Focus Cards accomplished the task of engaging each student, allowing them to build off of one another’s research within their groups.

Once we had had accumulated all of our research, it was time to test it out! With our research gathered under our arms and a tricorn perched on my head, our group began our lighthearted, chirpy walk up to the music hall. We rearranged the rows of chairs into a circle, a ploy to keep attention and discussion better circulated, and began our trial runs. It was here that the Focus Cards began their development. Eventually we made it to the mansion itself, where we discussed how best to affiliate students with life in past centuries. Upstairs, we discovered that the bedroom used by George and Martha Washington had excellent lighting. So of course, a selfie break was necessary.
Our efforts were challenged during a visit from a group of French foreign exchange students— the very first group of students to participate in our approach of teaching millennials. We soon discovered that the students— an extremely attentive and eager group— flourished throughout all of our planned activities! For the finale to all our hard work, Chief of Cultural Resources Dr. Jude Pfister played two ghost recordings captured within the mansion, much to the delight (and horror) of the students. The next time our little dream team met, we broke out the Post-its and markers to collaborate on what we thought worked, and what we’d change. Overall, we decided, our efforts were a success and we planned our next iteration based on our observations.

Many a millennial’s heart can be summed up is with a simple, four letter word. Wifi. Or, more precisely, free wifi, which, coincidentally enough, Morristown’s National Park offers. But in a world of rapidly enhancing technology, there must be a method in which teachers are able to redirect students’ attention by instilling an environment of focus and awareness within museum settings. The answer? Prototyping, hard work, and a bag (or three) of candy.

This blog post by Morgan Haller, Centenary University.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mark Twain & The General

April 23, 2017

2:00 PM

Scenes from:

Mark Twain & The General -
One act Opera

Libretto: Jewel Seehaus-Fisher,
Music: Robert W. Butts

Washington's Headquarters -
Morristown National Historical Park
30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ

Admission FREE


Don Sheasley as Ulysses S. Grant

Timothy Maureen Cole as Julia Grant

Brian Jamieson as Mark Twain

Elizabeth Wooten as The Cook

Civil War Veterans: Anthony Shashaty - Douglas Anderson - Tom Loughman

The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey conducted by Maestro Robert W. Butts

Towards the end of his life, President Ulysses S. Grant is dealing with financial pressures and cancer. He attempts to write his book on the Civil War, tended to by his wife, Julia. Mark Twain, himself in financial difficulties, offers to publish Grant's book which has remained one of the landmarks of American literature.  While Grant was writing and battling for his life, veteran soldiers would pay respects outside his house, their stories being the inspiration for Grant's completing his book.

The concert performance is part of the 2017 National Park Week.
It is sponsored by Morristown National Historical Park and Eastern National.   

On display will be the hand corrected proofs by Mark Twain of an article called "To My Missionary Critics" which appeared in the April 1901 edition of the North American Review.   It dealt with the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Dr. Jude Pfister, Chief of Cultural Resources at Morristown National Historical Park, will be on hand to answer questions related to the museum and its vast manuscript collection.

Jewel Seehaus-Fisher (d 2015) was one of New Jersey's leading playwrights, a pioneer in women's theater. She wrote several plays which were produced across the country.  Her musical theater collaborations included Gesualdo and A Night in the Wilde Wild West.

Don Sheasley has been one of New Jersey's leading baritones for several years.  He has sung major roles with opera companies throughout New Jersey.  Among his frequent collaborations with Maestro Butts and The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey have been the Count in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Rigoletto in Verdi's Rigoletto, Don Alfonso in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, The Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata,

Brian Jamieson has sung musical theater, cabaret and opera.  He premiered the roles of Gesualdo in Gesualdo, Sherriff Willie in Wilde's Wild West, and Mark Twain in Mark Twain & The General.

Timothy Maureen Cole has sung with opera companies in New York and New Jersey.   With BONJ, she has sung The Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Damon in Handel's Acis and Galatea. She has also appeared as The Woman in Maestro Butts's setting of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart.   Ms. Cole is also co-host of the popular podcast Not Just a Movie.

Elizabeth Wooten is a student of Carol Yahr. A recent graduate from the Vocal Performance program at Montclair State University, she has performed in the staged Handel Cantata titled "Erotic Madness", Ida in Die Fledermaus, and scenes from Midsummer Nights Dream (Tytania), Il Mondo della Luna (Lisetta), and Idomeneo (Ilia). She has also performed Papagena in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Theatre Montclair and scenes from Ariadne auf Naxos (Zerbinetta) with the New York Summer Opera Scenes Program.

Anthony Shashaty, Douglas Anderson, and Tom Loughman have appeared in several opera and musical theater works with BONJ, Bell and Barter Theatre, Opera at Florham, and Eastern Opera.   They originated roles in Maestro Butts's settings of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask ofAmontillado.   They have also appeared together or separately in productions of Puccini's Tosca, Verdi's Rigoletto and La Traviata, Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore as well as originating the roles of the Veterans in Mark Twain & The General.

Photos Above: Don Sheasley - Brian Jamieson - Tom Loughman

Monday, April 3, 2017

From Reese’s to Results: The Prototyping Process

How do you keep a millennial generation student focused? This question almost has a tinge of humor in it for most, as many parents and teachers struggle to capture the attention of their younger audiences, constantly at opposition with their children’s cell phones. Modern technology, specifically cell phone use and internet access, has changed the game of studying and researching for the students of today. Over the course of two months, Morgan Haller and I, led by Dr. Sarah Minegar, began to brainstorm and prototype solutions, seeking to meet this new challenge. Our mission was this: how can teachers create an environment of scholarship and concentration for millennials to single-task and discover in museum studies?                                                                                                                                 

We began with Sharpies, Post-Its, and a bag of candy. Naturally, this is how the best ideas are born. The three of us laid some ground rules for our idea development: our groupthink would be a safe, open place for idea-sharing, where the thoughts of our group members would serve as catalysts to our own. Our first topic of discussion was around our initial, personal observations about how technology had affected our lives, and we expanded from those points. During the course of our brainstorming, we discussed a variety of student personality types to broaden the accessibility of the activities. We kept the needs of each student in mind as we turned ideas into actions and began to prototype. Soon, we had posters of Post-Its, and columns of possible activities to expand upon.

During our prototyping weeks, we made sure that notepads, markers, and Post-Its of many shapes and colors were available to encourage our creativity. After assembling the activities into their most basic forms, we were ready for a mock trial. We carried our supplies around the park to our work stations and set up shop. These trial runs allowed us to test the fluidity of the activities on a micro-scale to predict their success with actual students.

To break the traditional “classroom layout,” which can lull students into auto-pilot, we arranged the chairs in a circle to keep energy and attention at its prime. We began with a “gripe session” allowing the students to actively complain about how difficult the document may be to analyze. This would provide a safe, almost humorous space for kids who may have an uncontrollable funny bone, or may feel intimidated by the difficulty of the activity. After the group’s confessions of how unmanageable the manuscript was, it was time to look at the document’s layout and format in group discussion. This activity prepped the students for the primary documents they would encounter in the activities to come.

Technological, visual, and informational literacy were our focus points. We developed activities that surrounded these ideas using the park’s primary resources – exploration of a historic site, manuscripts, and galleries. Joshua Knighten, a fellow intern, helped us develop the manuscript-analysis table, depicting the many elements of paper-making and handwriting that occurred during colonial times. Across a three table layout, our group designed a layout of primary resource documents with accompanying modern texts to put the historic manuscripts in context. 

To aid the students’ exploration and discovery of their resources, our team developed Focus Cards that centered the individual’s research on a single topic. These cards encouraged students to explore with a single theme in mind, and then to share their ideas with their small groups, uniting the different Focus Card perspectives in discussion. After the small groups had discussed among themselves, we encouraged students to expand out to the larger group and share their findings publicly, with a lead instructor suggesting and answering questions.

Our hard work was put to the test this past Tuesday, when a group of French exchange students became the first class to try our millennial teaching techniques. With an exceptional attentiveness and willingness to learn, our French students excelled through our prototyped activities. Our first class was a success, and we will prototype until perfection as our future students visit Morristown during the summer of 2017!

This post by Abby Parsons

Friday, March 31, 2017

Protoyping Millennial Engagement

Abby Parsons and Morgan Haller
For the past two months, our Morristown education team has been working to address the issue of millennial engagement. We know as a smaller museum we are up against larger scale programming, high tech exhibits, incredible collections, and the culture of habituated distraction that is plaguing us all. We decided to take that challenge head on because, heck, we have some incredible collections ourselves and we have access to some pretty fantastic millennial representatives too. Our Centennial SCA Abigail Parsons and interns Morgan Haller (Centenary University) and Joshua Knighten (Rowan University) have been assisting archivist and museum educator, Sarah Minegar, in prototyping a new learner-centric education model.  

Prototyping, a term borrowed from the process of Design Thinking, is a way for teams to make brainstorming tangible so that they can collaborate and work to move ideas into actionable tasks. This week our team got the chance to put that hard work into practice with our first target audience group, 18 students from Lycee International Jules Guesde in Montpellier, France. Stay tuned for our interns' take on the prototyping process, what they learned, and how this process has impacted our approach to high school programming.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Volunteer Rockstars

Our Park simply could not accomplish what we do without the generosity and time of volunteers in parks (or VIPs). At Morristown, you'll find our volunteers engaged in all kinds of activities and programming: from trail maintenance and gardening, to historic house tours and trades demonstrations, to research and internships.

olunteer Park Passes were issued to nine volunteers who donated 250 hours over a three year period. While eight volunteers donated over 201.6 hours in 2016 to receive the NPS Centennial Challenge Award.

Today we'd like to honor two fine volunteers who have achieved some volunteering milestones. Wick House volunteer, Anne, was awarded her VIP Pass and Headquarters' guide and trail maintenance crewman, Steve, was awarded his NPS Centennial Challenge Award.

Thank you for your dedication and service.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Meet Josh Knighten

The cultural resources division would like to welcome Rowan University senior, Josh Knighten. A history major and nature enthusiast, Knighten will be preparing an exhibit featuring the work of John James Audubon. His work will focus primarily on our 1840 edition of Audubon's Birds Folio (Vol 1), Audubon's research, and the condition and composition of nineteenth-century rare books.

To satisfy his explorer and early American history curiosities, Josh will also be helping preserve our outdoor campus by extending his services with trail maintenance on parts of our twenty-seven miles of historic trail.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Meet Morgan Haller

We've got some new faces in cultural resources this semester. Meet Centenary University senior, Morgan Haller. Ms. Haller is a history and communications major interested in the American War for Independence and those who participated. She enjoys researching everything from spy rings to battle tactics, but her favorite person to read up on is the Marquis de Lafayette.

This spring, Morgan will be offering her expertise researching some of our underutilized art collections. She will be focusing on the paintings exhibited in the front hall of the museum (which includes an 1860 Edward Kranich), preparing artifact descriptions, and brochures. Morgan will also continue our study of Theodosia Ford. She'll be sharing her research journey on the blog, so stay tuned!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Curator Pfister on The Legacy of John Jay

Volume XXXVIII, No 4, 2016

Among his many talents, Dr. Jude Pfister is a scholar of Supreme Court history. His most recent contribution to the Supreme Court Historical Society Quarterly, "The Legacy of John Jay," can be found in the current volume.  Here Pfister discusses Jay's achievements as a co-author of The Federalist Papers, the first Chief Justice, his governorship in New York, work as the President of the Continental Congress, and negotiation of the Paris Peace Treaty (1783), among other formative accomplishments.

To read the article, click HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Illuminating Hidden Gems

Some of you may be aware, but our own Dr. Sarah Minegar, Archivist/Museum Educator, has a wonderful article in the current NJ Studies Journal. Sarah looks at the seemingly contradictory juxtaposition of a National Historical Park (Morristown) , with its "history in a box" approach to the past, paired with a first-rate, but forgotten, research library (also Morristown), with its total approach to the past. 

We are also very proud to point out that another Morristown NHP staff member, Steven Elliott, a PhD candidate at Temple, has an article and a book review in the current issue. Steven's article looks at "how and why the Continental Army decided to place the bulk of its forces in northern New Jersey for two consecutive winters during the war."

Click HERE to see the current issue.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Winter Visitor Services Hours

Morristown, NJ – Beginning on January 1, 2017, the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center building will be closed. The building will reopen on Saturday, February 11, 2017. During that same period, the Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford Mansion will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Please note that the grounds of the entire park will remain open seven days per week along with the restroom facilities at the Jockey Hollow area, per park hours listed at

These closures will not affect currently scheduled education programs.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, December 12, 2016

Morristown by the Numbers

⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫ ⏫

Troops Strength


December 1779 total Present and Fit for Duty [able to fight] – 10,785

December 1779 total Present and Fit and Present Sick – 11,788

Total Deaths December 1779 to May 1780 - 96

Valley Forge 1777-1778 had 1478 deaths

Total Desertions Dec. to May - 974

A desertion rate of about 10%. Normal desertion rate during war was 25%

Total Discharges Dec to May - 2610

This would be soldiers whose enlistments had expired.

Total Enlistments Dec to May – 748

Total of troops sent away to other locations before encampment ends - 2530

1815 men of the Maryland line and artillery depart in April to reinforce southern army.

715 men of the NY Brigade leave in June for NY Frontier.

Total Troop Left in June 1780 - 5578

Total Troops Lost from December 1779 to June 1780 - 6210

Includes deaths, desertions, discharges and troops sent to other locations.

Subtract the 748 enlistments then overall loss is 5462

Provision return, May 2, 1777, Capt. George Bush

Men and Huts Jockey Hollow 1779-1780

The army’s peak number of men in Morristown was in December 1779. In December:

there were 10,785 men present and fit for duty they would have required 1039 huts.

But if you include soldiers who were present but also sick, there were a total of 11,788 men.

11,788 men would have required 1131 huts.




LWS70-100, provisions request for 

beef and potatoes. Attribited to the 2nd NJ (1777).
  • A group of six men, known as a “Mess” shared a tent and a kettle for cooking their food.
  • Each hut held 12 men [two messes], who cooked, ate and slept in their hut.
  • Each hut was built by the 12 men who lived in it.
  • On average it took 9 to 14 days to build a hut.
  • General Orders required the huts to be 14 feet wide and 16 feet long, six ½ feet high at the eves and built in a straight line with the other huts. Huts that did not meet this standard were to be torn down.

  • Regiments, Brigades and Divisions varied greatly in the number of men and number of huts they built. Looking at the December 1779 when the army was at is largest [during this encampment], here are the numbers of men who were present a fit for duty.
  • The smallest regiment was the 1st Canadian Regt, with 115 men and approximately 12 huts.
  • The largest regiment was the 6th Connecticut Regt. with 411 men and approx. 37 huts.
  • The smallest brigade was Hand’s with 739 men and approximately 71 huts.
  • The largest brigade was the 2nd Connecticut Brigade with 1237 men and approx. 114 huts.
  • The smallest division [2 brigades] was Hand’s and NJ with 1760 men and approx.. 101 huts.
  • The largest division was the Connecticut Line with 2273 men and approx. 212 huts.

Land Used for Camps

The area of One Brigade was supposed to be:
320 yards across the front,
100 yards deep plus a 40 yard parade ground.
A total of 32,000 square yards or 6.61 acres.
Archaeology done at the site of the Second Connecticut Brigade showed a slightly larger area, with a total area of 7.3 acres. Not surprising since this was the largest brigade.

If you use an average of 7 acres for a brigade and multiply it by 11 brigades:
The entire camp took up 77 acres of land just for the camp areas. Trees removed for hut construction and firewood would have cleared much more land.

How Much Wood?

At a minimum a soldier’s hut probably used two cords of firewood a month during the winter weather for a total of 12 cords during the winter. Multiply 1112 huts by 12 cords, then during the winter encampment the army burned 13,344 cords of wood. A brigade probably needed at least 1125 cords of firewood for a winter encampment of approximately 6 months. If you multiply 1125 cords times 11 brigades then the army burned 12,375 cords of wood during the encampment. Between firewood and wood used for building huts and other needs, the army used well over 30,300 cords of wood during the 1779-1780 Morristown encampment.


Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army, by Charles H. Lesser, University of Chicago Press, 1976

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799,
Volume 17 October 21, 1779-February 9, 1780, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, printed May, 1937, United States Government Printing Office, Washington

The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. Volume V, 1 November 1779-31 May 1780.
Richard K. Showman, editor, Robert E. McCarthy, Senior Associate Editor, Dennis M. Conrad and E. Wayne Carp, Associate Editors, c. 1989 The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, Published for the Rhode Island Historical Society

Regulations For The Order and Discipline Of The Troops Of The United States. Part I. [Von Steuben], Philadelphia, Printed by Styner and Cist, in Second-street, 1779

“Forty Years of Archaeological Research at Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey” by Edward S. Rutsch and Kim M. Peters, Historical Archaeology, Vol. 11, 1977

A Survey of the Historical Archaeology of Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey, by Edward S. Rutsch and Kim M. Peters, Historic Conservation and Interpretation, Inc., 17 Van Houten Street, Paterson, N.J., for U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, Professional Services Contract No. CX-2000-4-0029, Archaeological Investigations and Excavations, Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey, 1976

“Excavations in the First Brigade Site, Connecticut Division Area, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J.”, J, Duncan Campbell, 1963, January 8, 1964

“Hutsite Survey, Stark’s Brigade, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N. J., by J. Duncan Campbell, NER-968, NER-950-321 Supp.

Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey, 1760-1769, New Jersey Archives, Third series, Vol. IV, compiled by Bernard Bush, Bureau of Archives and History, New Jersey State Library, c. 1982

Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey, 1770-1775, New Jersey Archives, Third series, Vol. V, compiled by Bernard Bush, Division of Archives and Records, New Jersey State Library, c. 1986

Quartering, Disciplining, and Supplying the Army at Morristown, 1779-1780 , by George J. Svejda, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Washington, D.C., National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia, February 23, 1970

Summer Soldiers: A Survey and Index of Revolutionary War Courts-Martial, by James C. Neagles, Ancestry Incorporated, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986

 This Blog Post by Park Ranger, Eric Oslen.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holly Walk Returns to Morristown!

Saturday, December 3 & Sunday, December 4
11:00 am to 4:00 pm

A long-standing and beloved tradition in Morris County is the historic house tour known as "Holly Walk".  With one admission ticket visitors can tour five local sites which will be decorated for the holidays.  

New this year, the event has been expanded from one to two days, and will be held Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Participating sites for Holly Walk include: 

Acorn Hall, the Ford Mansion,
Macculloch Hall, the Schuyler-Hamilton House and the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.  

Each location has been planned special Holly Walk programming just for this weekend. Additionally, their gift shops will be stocked with unique items for holiday shoppers.  

Advanced sale tickets cost $30 and are available at and at the Morris County Tourism Bureau office, 6 Court Street, Morristown, until Friday, December 2nd.  During the weekend of the event the ticket price will rise to $35. Children 12 and under are free.

For more information, please visit the Morris County Tourism Bureau website.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Artist Among Us

When you ask Ranger Kevin Hanley to build you a teaching tool, he fact, he creates a work of art.

As part of our Primary Source Seminar programming, we often explain antiquated concepts of paper making and printing processes that can be difficult to conceptualize without the help of visual aids. We enlisted the services of Mr. Hanley, an expert in miniature model building, to help us create a 1:10 scale model of a Gutenberg printing press. We had hoped for something basic to demonstrate the general setup and components, but Kevin, being the master craftsman he is, created an intricate model that features even the miniature type, ink balls, footstep, printed text, and stacks of pressed pages! The craftsmanship and attention to detail are truly impressive.

                        Thank you, Kevin! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Cursive Learning Curve & Future Historians' Dilemma

Booker T. Washington manuscript, LWS Collection.
I taught high school for a couple of years before going into museum work and the number one apprehension my students had about the SAT; the one sentence academic oath that they are required to complete in cursive before commencing the exam! The curse of CURSIVE!

If English Secretary hand eventually fell out of use, it might not come as such a surprise that as the need for technology literacy increases, the instructional time for manual practices like cursive may decrease.  In my own experience working with teachers, I have been informed it’s not only on the decline, in some schools cursive is no longer part of the curriculum.

After recovering from my instinctual cringe, I took some time to ponder my own cursive journey and the implications for such a bold change. Was I shocked simply because I was witnessing a break with tradition? 

I asked myself...

When was the last time I was instructed in/evaluated on my script?  Third grade

How accurate/precise was my cursive? Not very (I kind of just connect regular letters, and heck if I have ever properly written an upper case Q.)

Does my version of cursive speed up my handwriting or note taking ability? Maybe?

Does it seem to help me remember my notes?  Handwriting certainly seems to be connected to my own cognition, but I can’t verify cursive does anything. I usually take notes in a mix of cursive, print, and graphic organizers.

Does my knowledge of cursive letter forms help me decipher others’ handwriting? Yes, but each hand takes time to get used to. As handwriting degrades, script can sometime increase that challenge.

I wasn’t very reassured by my own checkered use of cursive, so I decided to think more about the bigger picture implications for a curriculum that doesn’t include it. 

What are cognitive scientists and learning theorists saying about cursive?

As it turns out, not very much. It seems the emphasis on cursive in a “post-quill-age” is steeped more in folklore and tradition than any hard scientific fact. According to Philip Ball’s recent article “Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths,” the case for cursive over manuscript (or non joined letters) is waning and is probably why educators are seeing it missing from the Common Core Standards, among other things.The New York Times education debate has featured a lot in support of handwriting, but not cursive. And Chronicle of Higher Education has delved into this matter on more than one occasion, most recently bidding it adieu.  
So while no conclusive evidence points to cursive being imperative to our cognitive function, save for situational learning applications (as in the case of dyslexia reading strategies)...

What does cutting cursive mean for us? 

Archival Ambassadors alum
Two things:

1. An unprecedented disconnect/communication gap between young people and their living ancestors; a sudden drop in a writing convention that makes it difficult or impossible for young people to read materials created by their (often still living) relatives.

2. A learning curve for students of history and the need for universities and museums to provide paleography training in modern cursive.