- I am not new to the list. I often read but rarely make a comment. So here goes.
Regarding the issue of umbrella groups, I think that because it has been brought up, there is a need to more clearly define what 1812 interpretation is to be at events and seek some manner of assuring that interpretation gets enforced. In some ways, poor historic interpretation for the public is a form of censorship. By allowing certain participants to be a part of an event who are a far cry from what the event is about is doing a version of revisionist history. It is fostering an atmosphere to the public that this was part of the norm when it was certainly not.
How is this to be enforced and who will do it is disturbing. It is an inherent flaw. It is much easier for the military to interpret authenticity because they have the manuals, the rules and regulations of what was to be enforced. Take the recruiting regulations of the U.S. Infantry -- it clearly states the officer was to be sure only "men" were to be recruited who met certain conditions.
But when it comes to civilian participants, who will be the authenticity police? I wore a Quaker bonnet last fall to Mississinewa. A woman participant who is deemed an "authority" on women's clothing of this era claimed that didn't exist and was out of place. HELLO! Quaker women in Indiana Territory were more common than those butterflies in their polyester velvet spencers. So if this so-called authentic person is pointing fingers at those with authentic garb and saying it is not, who is to be believed? She can weed me off the site. If I were doing an authentic 1812 camp follower with a jumper style petticoat and an American version of a short gown (which is high waisted and shorter than a British or Canadian one) but the authenticity police deemed F & I style clothing of petticoats and shortgowns and chemises showing was correct (which often happens at 1812 events) then the real authentics are pushed out, censored, and revisionist interpretation reigns. I find that all very vexing. Civilians do not have the set military rules to abide by.
I bring up one other point here. And that has to do with cross gender interpretation of roles. I now don my steel-plated britches for this one. I used to be a 17th Light Dragoon in the umbrella organzation NWTA which allowed females to portray men (-- in some groups within the organization). I did pretty well, even getting yelled at by a woman participant for being in the ladies' bathroom. I had to open my military blouse to prove my gender so I could stay and do my business. I no longer do that. I tried it for about two years. I learned discipline, drill, how to fire a musket, and I cherish my Brown Bess. BUT today, I realize I had no business doing that role. I was misinforming the public who could tell I was female. I was doing a disservice to the public and for me, I was censoring true historic interpretation. Very few women were soldiers in the Rev War, and there were none I am aware of in the British Army.
My last stint in semi-male dress was at Prairie du Chein in 1995 when there were not enough Americans in the blockhouse to fire back at the British forces. I was asked by the overall American commander to don a 25th Infantry roundabout and forage cap over my washerwoman clothes and fire away. My unit commander asked me not to, but I did anyway, much to the potential demise of my relationship with him. Very dumb thing to do on my part. But it was wrong and were I asked to do that today, I would decline. What my responsibility as a female is to interpret the female roles of that era --the living past of those long dead, NOT to impose modern views upon the past. And men should not be donning women's gowns but interpreting men's roles. The cross gender thing was present in 1812, but hidden which is where it should be in 2001 as we interpret that time period. Our unit does allow women to fire muskets and pistols at blockhouse defense demonstrations. We are taught how to use the weapons safely and are controlled in our firing. We do this to interpret military and frontier dependents. So I still get to fire my musket once in awhile but in my proper role. And I don't have a problem with that.
So in regards to umbrella groups -- we must be very clear about what we want done. Clear about our expectations and goals are to be. We don't have units that help females interpret their roles the way the military does. Women are left on their own to by hook or crook come up with their own idea of what women should be. The easy way out is to wear F & I or Rev War camp follower clothing. The more difficult path is to research. We need to ask ourselves if an umbrella group would help women in their roles or only put the emphasis on men.
One last thing -- is that these problems can be addressed in by-laws of an organization with the help of a lawyer. If the Boy Scouts can decide how they will be run, so too can 1812 groups on either side of the border. Gender roles can be clearly defined if they are spelled out right from the git-go by event organizers or by unit organizations. Sally Bennett, 1st U.S. Infantry/Missouri Rangers
- I am sorry that someone asked you to put on a Roundabout and take the Block house. I am glad to say I was not there for that and I would have walked if that happed. Sitting in camp going "yesh" would have been more fun. I still believe the Orginizers should make the desions and, we should back them. The Civillians could also send in photos to see if they pass muster.
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- Dave, I think you're missing Sally's point here. What she is saying is that you can send a picture in great, but some self proclaimed expert who can't tell a shift from a sh**ter is going to say "Not they would never have worn that. They always wear this..." (how many times have we heard that!) and not let her in. Even though she has possible done 25 years of research
on this has a Ph.D in historic costuming, some yahoo who thinks they are be all and end all still says no.
I don't think this group should deal with authenticity just safety!
Dave & Monica Bosse wrote:
> I still believe the Orginizers should make the desions and, we should back them. The Civillians could also send in photos to see if they pass muster.
> Dave Bosse
> 25th US