The smell of black powder, the foot sounds of military in march, and ladies in petticoated skirts swishing as they walk by. Those are some of the first images many would bring to mind when thinking of reenactments regarding the Civil War period. So educational and historical, stepping back in time can be so enlightening!
So with my love for historic preservation and many influential friends who have urged me time and time again, I will be donning the clothing of our black ancestors. There are many avenues to considers as a living historian but first things first…
What period of history do I wish to represent? While I love many eras the years 1830 through 1890 are of great interest. This span of years would cover several eras and historical periods I will consider for attire: Victorian, Romantic, Civil War, Reconstruction, and Edwardian.
Building a wardrobe can be fun and daunting. It’s all in the fine details. Recreating period wear requires a true knowledge for history, materials, and craftsmanship to display the historic details accurately. Photographs are a wealth of information that are going to be so important for recreating my persona.
Should I join a local reenacting group? I have considered this many times over the years. Many of the local groups represent the Civil War and with great passion. Just watch how the Turner Brigade or the FREED (Female Reenactors of Distinction) put on their events and anyone will be intrigued.
Why don’t more minorities don the clothing of centuries past and step into the roles of our forefathers & mothers? I have been asked similar questions over the years. Well, I won’t get into that debate on the who and why but I’ll just say, “knowing one’s family history allows you to feel comfortable portraying such a strong past with honor and dignity.” And wouldn’t history class have been more interesting in school if it was presented with live participants portraying events than the summarized text in the writing?
Those above questions in mind have set me on this path…
- Portray an African American woman during the Pre-Civil War through Reconstruction time period. This will likely be a blend of several documented women I come across during researching.
- Appropriately and accurately build a period wardrobe. I am a seamstress and will sew my own clothing as well as purchase from knowledgeable seamsters.
- Of course I’ll join a local group and perhaps the national group. Being with like minded people is half the fun!
- I will share the history I uncover through presentations and writings. I aim to research and rediscover the lives and importance of minorities.
- Overall, one thing I hope to help spread is the broadness the past actually entailed. Our historical past was more than the parodies of old Hollywood movies full of misrepresentation and segregation or the lack of textbooks to promote all of the ethnicities which constructed our American history.
This is my first inspirational piece for building a persona:
I am so eager to delve into the past and broadcast the untold stories of minority ancestors.