Irvington High School social studies teacher Dr. Erik Weiselberg’s essay, “The Revolution Lives On,” has been published in the scholarly collection, “Rip Van Winkle’s Republic: Washington Irving in History and Memory.”
“My essay is a historical look at how and why Washington Irving’s ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ was associated with the Revolutionary War and the capture of British spy John André through the late 19th century until it became a Halloween fixture alongside pumpkins and ghost stories in the early 20th century,” Weiselberg said.
Drawing on extensive research for his essay, Weiselberg examines the tale’s different receptions by residents of the Tarrytown region from 1820 to 2020. It explores Irving’s personal and historical inspirations in writing “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and traces his association of the tale with the Revolutionary War events of Tarrytown and its reception by local and national audiences. It also explores the local impacts and reception of the story and traces the loss of those historical allusions by the early 20th century when it became essentially a Halloween ghost story, including the Village of North Tarrytown changing its name to Sleepy Hollow in the 1990s.
Weiselberg, who is the Village of Irvington historian and principal historian of Revolutionary Westchester 250, said his essay topic connects to the local history that he teaches in his American Studies class at Irvington High School.
The book, “Rip Van Winkle’s Republic: Washington Irving in History and Memory,” edited by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, can be purchased online from Amazon, LSU Press and other booksellers.