About Us

The project that is Virtual Americana started in 2010 as a passion project of our producer, Carlton SooHoo. Inspired to photograph the story of the American Revolution in 360 degree photography, he self-funded his travel up and down the East Coast, photographing sites. He started his initial website at, but over the years the project proceeded slowly, as much of his time was taken up with his business Panospin360, where he hired team member Amanda Bowen as a fellow photographer and web developer as part of the Panospin360 Team.

In November 2020, Carlton met Christine Hoffman at the New England Museum Association Annual meeting in a variety of virtual sessions involving technology and museum education.

Carlton recruited Christine as a project manager for the Virtual American Revolution project. Over a number of brainstorming sessions, the vision grew to encompass providing engaging online educational material about many important events in American history, and so they renamed the project Virtual Americana. Carlton recruited Amanda for her amazing web design skills and photography skills, and her contributions to the team really round out our capabilities.

Field trips seem like a thing of the past, especially history-centered field trips. Even before the days of Covid 19, growing school sizes, increasing emphasis on performance on high stakes testing, and liberal arts subjects being de-emphasized in favor of STEM/STEAM education has led to decreases in school visitation of historic sites.

Additionally, the hybrid schooling situation that developed due to Covid-19 has made us aware of the shortfalls of taking in-person schooling online without adequate preparation. Still, given the slow roll out of vaccines, it is likely that this condition will continue for the foreseeable future. Additionally as students acclimate to online learning, some may continue to pursue schooling from home for a variety of reasons.

Parents have also been caught off guard by these present circumstances. They often don’t have the resources to find engaging content for their children to supplement some of the lackluster school offerings in digital format. Even schools that were designed to be remote, often rely on slide show presentations as an educational tool.

Additionally, American History Textbooks for public schools are… severely lackluster. Due to lobbying by various interests, the textbooks tend to be bland, stripped of controversy, and the leaders of this nation glorified in ways that distance them from the sometimes horrible decisions they made. People are complex. Even our most revered leaders have made decisions that at the time seemed non-controversial but in the present day are considered politically incorrect or in violation of human rights. This is what actually makes history so interesting! Worse, our textbooks often strip out many of the important contributors to our history, stories of immigrants, women, and Indigenous groups.

There are a number of excellent resources available online to learn about our nation’s history, but finding them, assessing them for quality, and finding the diverse stories missing from our textbooks is time consuming. Our goal is to provide the following:

360 degree high quality experiences detailing important historic sites as they appear in present day.

Accompanying text that tells a more honest history that includes all of the people who contributed to the great tapestry that is the past, not flinching from difficult histories.

Asking students to combine reading with observational skills to develop critical thinking about our past, and build connections to the present in hopes of a better future.

Increasing the number of students seeing images and stories of people who look like them in history.

Linking students, teachers, and parents to some of the already incredibly useful information already existing out there, created by historic organizations, museums, and the National Park Service.

Provide resources for those who want to learn more and dig deeper, as well as highlighting local stories that get missed in the grand sweeping national story.

In Phase 1:

If you are reading this, then phase 1 is completed. The goal of phase 1 was to update the Massachusetts-based information from the Virtual American Revolution site, to the new Virtual Americana site, which involved re-programming the images out of flash and into a format compatible with current and future internet standards. Additionally, to photograph some additional interesting sites, create updated texts, and add questions that students and teachers can use to assess understanding.

Following Phase 1, we seek to incorporate as an official Non-profit organization in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and gain 501(c)(3) status.

Phase 2: Expansion

Upcoming phases will be to expand on the American Revolution content until the completion of the war. We have considered crowdfunding as one possible source of funding for the expansion phases, once we have an updated product to show potential funders.

Expansion 1: The rest of the New England States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Expansion 2: The Mid-Atlantic Region of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West-Virginia.
Expansion 3: The Southern Region: Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida
Expansion 4: Outlying territories such as the Ohio River Valley, as well as sites in Canada, etc.

Phase 3: Enrichment:

Virtual Americana Media productions – source reenactors and musicians specializing in period music to create visual and auditory media to further immerse students in the feel of the historic period.
Source foodways resources to create hands-on learning opportunities to deepen students’ connections and understanding of the time period.

Phase 4: New Stories to Tell

At this future phase, Virtual Americana will expand to include other time periods in American history. Our goal is to include as many diverse voices as possible to explain difficult and complex histories from multiple perspectives. The following are examples of some of the stories and time periods we are interested in exploring and interpreting:

Civil Rights Movement
Lewis and Clark expedition
Trail of Tears
The Underground Railroad
Gold Rush
Women’s Suffrage Movement
Development of the Highway system, especially the famed Route 66