James Heintze, American University's assistant university librarian, is the researcher and author of the information on this site. It includes notable July Fourth celebrations and music events, speeches, and a listing of what the presidents did each holiday. It even notes Independence Day weather and cuisine.
"People need to know the history of their country in terms of the impact of the Declaration of Independence and what it means to them today,” continued Heintze, whose 300-page Fourth of July Encyclopedia will be published by McFarland later this fall. (from an article by Adrienne Frank for the American Weekly Summer News)
In reading his history of the "first" holiday celebration, I found the similarities to our current activities somehow reassuring. Enjoy!
Philadelphia, July 4, 1777
One of the most elaborate celebrations in 1777 and the first organized celebration of its kind occurred in Philadelphia. This event had all of the elements of typical future celebrations--the discharge of cannon, one round for each state in the union, the ringing of bells, a dinner, the use of music, the drinking of toasts (it would subsequently be traditional to have one toast for each state in the union), "loud huzzas," a parade, fireworks, and the use of the nation's colors, in this case the dressing up of "armed ships and gallies" in the harbor. The following is a description of the event as printed in a local newspaper: