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

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