Over this past weekend, I was browsing through some of the blogs that I follow and I ran across a post by Grant Oster on his Hankering for History blog. In his post, Grant was bemoaning the lack of respect that the public has for historians and complained that they often view them as reenactors / living history practitioners.
I am not going to get into a huge discussion of the fact that Living History is a part of a the branch of History known as “Public History”. Also that many reenactors/living history practitioners are working closely with professional historians to make sure that what they present is historically accurate, or that reenactors/living history practitioners have professionally published some very high quality research recently.
One of the things that struck me about Grant’s post was the clip from the TV show “Desperate Housewives” that he included:
There are those in our community who do seem to forget that, when it comes to public events, or anytime we are appearing or interacting with the public, we are ambassadors of “public history.” Unfortunately, I have too often heard reenactors say that they are doing this for their own reasons and they do not really care if the public likes it or not. We need to remember that the many reenactments and other public events where we appear would not exist if it were not for the public. Many of these events are paid for by the public, through admissions, or taxes (for government-supported sites) and without that public support, those events would go away. Continue reading →
Well, it has been over a year since my last posting on this blog. The old saying that “life happens” rings truer with every passing year and my last year has been very busy. New projects, a new job, and a teenage daughter with an interest in musical theater all combined to keep me too busy to write. Hopefully, things are calming down and I can begin to once again write for my blogs.
I can’t say right now just how often I will be posting, I am hoping for somewhere in the range of every 2-3 weeks, but keep your eyes open for upcoming posts on living history, interpretation, and public history.
Those of you who know me know that one of my living history personas is that of Lt. Col. Thomas Brown, Commander of the King’s Carolina Rangers (KCR), a loyalist regiment during the Revolutionary War. Yesterday, August 6, was the 232nd Anniversary of one of the Battles that the unit participated in, the Battle of Hanging Rock, SC.
While Col. Brown was not present at that battle, a company of the KCR was present and they were instrumental in turning the tide of battle, preventing a complete rout of the British forces. To learn more about the battle check out the article that appeared in The Founder’s Blog yesterday:
Historic Reenactment not only reinforces a sense of pride in our heritage; it is educational as well. Recent movies, such as “The Patriot” and “John Adams,” as well as books about the founders have caused interest in the Revolutionary War period to mushroom. In response, some Revolutionary War Reenactment groups have attempted to make themselves more family. Similarly, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States have raised interest in those periods as well.
“The Patriot,” and other historically influenced movies, has increased interest in living history
Taking part in Living History is a great way to escape the worries of today and “pretend” just as you did when you were young. Best of all, it is something in which you and your family can share the experience together. Continue reading →
When you are starting out in living history / reenacting activities, you come equipped with many preconceived notions about American History. Regardless of the period, there are things that you learned in school, read in books, or saw in movies that help shape your vision of the past. The problem is, often times some of these are just plain wrong.
Every country, as part of the fabric of its society, creates a historical narrative. The purpose of this “narrative” is to promote the country’s triumphs and strengths, and to promote a common national identity complete with a single set of political ideals and values. Continue reading →
If you choose what you buy carefully. Many things you will use are costly so this is a good reason to follow the advice about joining a group and asking them for help. If you don’t, when starting out, you will end up buying a ton of gear that you don’t need or is inappropriate for your impression. Eventually you will get tired of hauling it around and after that, it just gathers dust in your basement or storage shed
8.Get it right for your impression.
Most of the sutlers (vendors of period equipment) that cater to the 18th century are honest, and want you happy with your purchase so you will keep coming back. Continue reading →
1. Don’t believe everything you see in the movies.
In almost every case, historical accuracy was not the point of the film, TV show or novel; entertainment was. Don’t be confused by them. Base what you do and say on solid research, not TV, movies, or novels.
2. It will take time.
Building an impression takes time. It takes time to do research, to get clothing, to learn what the period was like. Like all beginners, you will be in a rush to Continue reading →