I’ve recently been active on a couple of living history and reenactment type forums, mostly for the sake of the podcast. I’m enjoying the discussions there with different types of reenactors that I would not normally get to mix with. I am amazed by the different sorts of living history going on out there.
When I was working at Strawbery Banke Museum (more than ten years ago now) as a costumed interpreter and tour guide, a Civil War reenactment group came and set up on Puddle Dock for a weekend. Since I was playing the maid in the governor’s mansion I was in the year 1870, only 5 years off from the civil war folks. On my break I walked around their encampment and said hello. One of the young female reenactors walked back with me after my break and we sat on the porch swing and talked living history. She was in high school, I was in college, she was reenacting as a hobby, I was a professional. But I was a bit jealous of her. She got to make her own clothes and wear them out and about, mine belonged to the museum and were too big for me. The group she was involved in were all friends and had a lot of fun together. I enjoyed my colleagues, but we were working together, not hanging out.
I’ve never been a member of a colonial or civil war group. I’ve set up summer camps, worked in museums, done a number of renaissance faires, I’ve presented in schools, and entertained in corporate settings. This past fall Stephen started a reenacting guild, but I almost don’t count that experience since it is a new unit, which is based on the living history tenets that Stephen and I share, that I certainly did not get as a result of participation in other units. Besides, it is a 16th century unit, European history, not American history.
I know there are probably folks out there that are jealous of all the wonderful experiences that I have, and I certainly would not give them up. But some day I will have to join a well established unit, portraying the civil or revolutionary war and see what that experience is like. Maybe then I will feel like a more rounded reenactor, or maybe I’ll just find a new experience to set my sights on… SCA member, experimental archaeology, what else am I missing?
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