Wednesday, April 13, 2011

History Dork Alert!

Yesterday I was digging through an old hope chest that I started sometime around the 7th grade and had filled to the brim by the end of High School.  Apparently I felt the need to save EVERYTHING, most of which I can't even decipher what it is or think of a single reason for having kept it.  This thing is basically a huge time capsule that will leave archaeologists centuries into the future scratching their heads as to why I felt the need to save a bottle of water I purchased on my 7th grade trip to Washington D.C.  Basically the thing is full of junk.

However, among the piles of old school-work and random bottles of water I did find a few things that gave me a chuckle and inspired me to share with you.  These items are some early historical documents that help validate my claim to being a "History Dork."

(Please excuse the blurry pictures, all these items were glossy and couldn't be photographed with a flash.)

Exhibit A:

My American Girls "Samantha" paper doll set.  I think I learned about American Girl sometime around age 13 which is about the age most girls give them up.  I however, reveled in my discovery and read the books from cover to cover.  And apparently, played with paper dolls.  Please note: on the back of the package it says for ages "7 and up".  They did not specify a cut-off age limit, so I feel validated in my having them into my early teens.

Exhibit B:

When I was young, I was a participant in a yearly "thing" called Young Authors.  Students wrote books, went to the local community college to all meet one another, and win prizes for their writing skills.  Again, when I was 13, I was playing the computer game "Oregon Trail" frequently.  I then had the bright idea to use it as the basis for that year's Young Authors book.  Essentially I played the game through, and wrote down key events as they happened.  I then used to events to shape a story about a woman traveling on the trail and wrote it all up as though it was her diary.  Above you see the cover of "A Journal by Melissa Trane", supposedly written in 1848.  It is made of "pleather" all stitched together in a crazy quilt fashion.  I even burned the edges of all the pages to reinforce that old-timey look.  But wait, here's the best part:

POLAROID pictures! For some reason I felt the need to illustrate my story with rapid-develop film whilst trying to represent an era where photography had only been in existence for less than a decade.  Go me.  Pictured above are one of my sisters and her two friends, all of whom I suckered into putting on dress up clothes and posing in our backyard as though they were out on the trail.  Please note the Teflon pan my sister is pretending to cook with over a non-existent fire.  Awesome.

Exhibit C: (Living historians with knowledge about 1860's clothing, brace yourself!)

Oh.  My.  God.  It's me in a "snood".  Lord help me, this should be burned.  Here I am 13, (apparently I hadn't begun to pluck my eyebrows yet) and this was done at a 4th of July festival by a caricature artist.  This was at the beginning of my reenacting career, and as you can see, it was a rocky start.  The big crochet collar. The bangs. The white rayon snood.  The dress which I know for a fact was still being closed with Velcro.  (I later made my mother take the Velcro off and turn the "for show" buttons into functional ones.)  Somehow I went from THIS, to being on the cover of a respected Civil War Civilian living history magazine.  It took a lot of research, willingness to learn and change what was wrong with my impression, and time.  But if I somehow managed, I guess there is hope for all those snood-wearing history dorks out there.

Civil War Photographs

Not sure if this is a help to anyone out there, but I thought I would pass the link on. The yahoo news article claims that these are rare Civil War photographs . Personally I doubt they are anything ground-breaking, as I'm pretty sure I've at least seen picture 1 before. Either way, if Civil War era photographs are your thing then here ya go - just in case they are of great use to someone out there. Feel free to comment if they are/aren't.