The Being 18th Century Committee

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We met at Bob’s house Sunday, March 2nd. Present were John, Joe, Karen, and Bob. This was a very worthwhile meeting for the purpose of setting the tone of our endeavors.

This committee is not going to be the cloths Nazi’s or any other king of Nazi. The emphasis is going to be on research and education. One item discussed was a packet of information for new members (that would be given to all members at the time it is put together). In it would be the clothing guidelines, Mike Scoggens’ history of the NAM, some basic information on money, a basic bibliography including periodicals, and what ever else we can come up with that would help the new member. We are also going to start assigning mentors to the newer members of the group. What we are trying to do is to take the new member and bring them along, lending clothes at first, getting them to purchase the correct, quality clothes, then purchase the tools, weapon, shelter, and so on as their interest and commitment grows.

We talked about the camp. What we do is not correct to the NAM in this area, but it is a comfortable camp. John suggested having a militia camp 20 or 30 yards off that the men could use to interpret the harder militia camp life. It would be Spartan but accurate. We are gong to give this a try at AJ. All of us need to have more interpretation to do around camp while the public is there. We talked about sewing and cleaning weapons. Public time in camp is always a good time to work on something that you need – be it clothing, moccasins, or a piece of leather goods. We need to demonstrate something for at least a couple of hours when the public is in camp. The public is more interested in what we do than what we say!

Joe’s idea of us all having personas is going well. The next phase is to have our clothes match the persona, to develop the skills we would have had, collect the material culture (tools, etc.) to do demonstrations based on our persona, and to be able to talk about our chosen lives. In the future, we are going to have a non-public time to sit around the campfire and introduce ourselves, in the personas we have outlined to John. John is also going to do research and send us some current events or day-to-day knowledge before each event for background information.

We talked about period food and drink and keeping the camp as 18th century as possible. We know that it is impossible to keep the 21st century at bay for a whole weekend, but we are going to try to do at least an hour of 18th century immersion, with everyone being their persona in first person, in the evening when the public is not there. Remember that silence and listening are period correct! During this time, we may discuss current events or ask about each other’s occupations. As Joe has pointed out, Mark Baker and others, when trekking and trying to stay 18th century, remind each other by saying, “Take care!” when a companion starts to wonder into the realm of video games or computers. This sort of interaction takes time to develop, but should be worth the effort. I think that each of us would like to have that moment where we feel that we were really there!

Some things we are not going to do: Join the Brigade of the American Revolution (Talk to Kip!) Start counting threads or argue about machine-sewn clothes. Some things we are going to do: update the clothing guidelines and keep the potluck meals coming!

What we are trying to do is to walk the fine line between being accurate to the public and those we interpret and have fun at the same time. We want to be judged positively by our peers and (to paraphrase Jon Kuester’s tee shirt) be 18th century, historically accurate, but not politically correct!

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