"How I Became Ben Franklin: The Story of Signer's Hall at the National Constitution Center” with Dr. Ray Smock comes to the Milton Historical Society's Speakers Series at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22. This engaging and illustrated talk will feature an insider's view of how the National Constitution Center Museum, dedicated to telling the story of the U.S. Constitution, was developed.
Smock was chief historical consultant to the National Constitution Center that opened July 4, 2003, in Philadelphia. His talk will focus on Signer’s Hall, the main exhibit in the museum. Signer’s Hall is filled with life-size bronze statues of the 42 men who were in the room together when the U.S. Constitution was signed Sept. 17, 1787.
During the research Smock did on the physical appearance of the signers, he discovered he was the same size as Benjamin Franklin. As a result, he was asked to become the model used to create Franklin's statue. The creation of Ben Franklin’s statue was the subject of a documentary featuring Smock.
Smock served as the first official historian of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995 and was highly respected for the precedent he set in his role as historian. For the past 10 years he has been director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va. He is the author or editor of numerous works on Congress and other topics. He was co-editor of the 14-volume Booker T. Washington Papers and is the author of a biography of Booker T. Washington. Smock earned his PhD in American history from the University of Maryland. He currently serves as a member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an independent agency affiliated with the National Archives, and is president of the West Virginia Humanities Council.
This event is free and open to the public.