Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Diaries- Links to the Past

In many respects, when we offer our knowledge to children and visitors at the Frontier Events at the Forts, we are Actors playing a part. In theater and acting studies, one of the primary elements of an actor preparing to perform a part, is the process of understanding the Motivation of a character. Understanding the Motivation of the character gives the actor the tools to portray that charcter with a commanding performance; it helps the actor to give a more 'realistic' presentation of the character.

I realize that most of you have been doing the living history events much longer than I have, but I wanted to validate your efforts, and to put a name to the process you've all been doing: Finding the Motivation of your Character.

Knowing what our foremothers thought and felt, provides us a sense of their motivation in their daily lives. Once you understand their motivation, you can relay that to the audience.

For me, diary entries are invaluable; they are straight from the source; no historian adding their own interpretation to the event; no political persuasions slanting the ideologies or emotions; no modern moral or ethical re-directions to cloud the reality of those people at that time. Diary entries provide us the raw emotions, the reality of their lives with all its unpleasantries and their joys in the most simplest of things.

In my presentations for school children, I like to share with them some of the 'simple' day to day activities that children in the past did; it helps them to associate with the past- giving them something more tangible to associate with- than just the activities of the adults. Diary entries of children are invaluable to help today's children grasp what life was like in the past.

Here are links to some online diaries both adult and children, and some othe diary links have entire books of diaries available to purchase.

Carrie Berry- a short excerpt of her life in Civil War Atlanta in the days before and after the great Burning of Atlanta

Abba Owens- the diaries of a teenaged girl from Ypslanti, Michigan

Journal of a Residence of a Georgian Plantation originally published in 1863, the University of Virginia offers this adult diary online. It is written in the stylized prose of the day, so it can be laborious to wade through it all... but offers a glimpse to the mindset of the author.

As I continue to research, I will post more online diaries.

Angela 'ARNie' Grabowski
Owner of ChezCrochet.com
Author of Encyclpedia of Tunisian Crochet

Monday, April 18, 2011

West Texas Heritage Days at Ft. McKavett

West Texas Heritage Days was held at Ft. McKavett SHS near Menard, TX on March 25-26, 2011

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Digital slideshow customized with Smilebox


The Victoriana Magazine online has a myriad of articles on the Victorian period.  Below is an article on crinolines or hoop skirts along with very nice pictures.  Have you ever resembled this lady as you "exploded" from a contemporary wagon at an event?

CrinolineThe 1800s crinoline, also called a hoop skirt or extension skirt, was  inspired by the open cage or frame style of the 16th and 17th century farthingale and the 18th century pannier. The Victorian crinoline developed various appearances over it's fashion lifetime as a result of new designs and methods of manufacture. Click here to read the rest of the article
by Joanne Haug

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Civil War Tintypes and Ambrotypes--The Stories They Could Tell

The Web has blossomed with sites dedicated to upcoming sesquicentennial of the American Civil War . Below are some web sites from various places that contain pictures of various aspects of the Civil War. These period resources are great for research into the lives of the men and women of the time.

Featured Acquisition: Library of Congress

Liljenquist Family Collection
Close to 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs highlight both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The Liljenquist Family sought out high quality images to represent the impact of the war, especially the young enlisted men. The photographs often show hats, firearms, canteens, musical instruments, painted backdrops, and other details that enhance the research value of the collection.
Among the rarest images are African Americans in uniform, sailors, a Lincoln campaign button, and portraits of soldiers with their wives and children. A few personal stories survived in notes pinned to the photo cases, but most of the people and photographers are unidentified. Tom Liljenquist donated the entire collection to the Library in 2010. An exhibition of the collection will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War in April 2011. (Note: Only the online images are available due to exhibition preparations.)
View collection (new images added each week)
View a slide show: Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs
Read an essay: From the Donor's Perspective: The Last Full Measure

Flicker -- Civil War Faces  http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/sets/72157625520211184

In addition, Parade magazine has a Real or Reenactment set of photos. How well will you do?

More photos available at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/cwphome.html

Teaching Resources at the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/brady-photos/