Ashley Ford, the Artist
This presentation of the "songs of Stephen Foster" is offered as an outreach program of Cincinnati History Museum at Cincinnati Museum Center (at Cincinnati Union Terminal). The personality and music of Stephen Foster are interpreted by Ashley L. Ford, longtime "first person" historical character interpreter at Cincinnati History Museum, where he has worked with the interpretive staff on a volunteer basis since retiring from a legal career with Procter & Gamble in 1994.
At Cincinnati History Museum, Mr. Ford has variously portrayed steamboat captain Captain Richard Wade on board the Museum’s replica 19th century steamboat "Queen of the West"; an early surveyor working in the original Symmes (or Miami) Purchase of southwest Ohio near Cincinnati shortly after its founding in 1788; a machine tool operator of the early 20th century; famous German-immigrant engineer and bridge builder John Augustus Roebling remembering his work in constructing Cincinnati’s iconic suspension bridge; and, for several years now almost exclusively, a retrospective Stephen Collins Foster magically returning to Cincinnati to remember getting started on his musical career there in 1846 before moving back east in 1850—eventually dying in New York City in 1864.
Mr. Ford is a member of the Association for Living History, Farm & Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM), an association of professional and volunteer interpreters working in the "first person" field, and also of the Midwest Open Air Museums Coordinating Council (MOMCC), the midwest regional affiliate of the national ALHFAM. He has given presentations at several annual conferences of the ALHFAM organization on subjects stemming from his work at Cincinnati History Museum including the story and lore of steamboating on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the 19th century and the law and practice of surveying in the Old Northwest Territory in the period immediately following the American Revolution.
Mr. Ford is also associated with the Lloyd Library & Museum in Cincinnati for which he offers an interpretation of the late John Uri Lloyd (1849-1936), one of the three founders of the Cincinnati eclectic medicine house Lloyd Brothers, Pharmacists, Inc. in the 1880s and with them benefactor of the Library & Museum that bears their name. Mr. Ford is a great-grandson of the second of the three Lloyd brothers, Nelson Ashley Lloyd, which descent prompted the Library & Museum to invite Mr. Ford to develop this character as an outreach program similar to his program of the "Songs of Stephen Foster" for Cincinnnati History Museum–initially for presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Columbus, Ohio in 2013 as part of the dedication of a medicinal garden sponsored by the Library & Museum. For more information about that program see http://www.lloydlibrary.org/services.html#programs
In 2003, Mr. Ford chaired and directed a summer public program for Heritage Village Museum in Sharon Woods Park north of Cincinnati called "Meet the Past at Heritage Village" wherein the historic buildings at that museum were peopled by historic characters associated with such buildings brought to life by professional and volunteer interpreters drawn from Cincinnati History Museum and other sites.