History villages arose almost simultaneously in the 1930s when two entrepreneurs, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Henry Ford, recreated Williamsburg and Greenfield Village. These large institutions brought history to life for the viewing public for the first time on a vast scale. (1)
In the United States, the Army and the National Guard often trained on actual Civil War battlefields and performed “reenactments” of battles. At Chickamauga,
Georgia, and at Gettysburg, battles took place over the commanded a tank regiment
Pennsylvania, many “sham”
at Camp Colt in
where he and his wife developed a lifelong love of They purchased a farm there in 1949 and the former retired there in 1961. (2)
the area. president
There have always been individuals who have been interested in recreating history but the first group to garner national attention was the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, in 1931. Within the NMLRA groups began to evolve with interests in certain time periods. Several groups who were primarily interested in the American Civil War started the North South Skirmish Association. The NSSA was incorporated in 1959, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. One of the most famous and influential of the NSSA units was and continues to be the internationally renowned “Loomis’ Battery”, commanded by the Monroe County Historical Museum’s former Director, Matt Switlik. The NSSA helped sponsor the first major event of the Civil War Centennial in 1961 at Manassas, Virginia. (3)
The event was a major disaster with temperatures over 100 degrees. Several “soldiers” received hits from live rounds that had been inadvertently left in the original muskets. Others got burned from cannons fired too close to the action. The Civil War Centennial Commission decided to cancel future Living History events until it was learned that then President Kennedy enjoyed watching fake battles. With such presidential sanction, the modern era of mega events was born. (4)
During the latter part of the 1960s and early 1970s, in Living History grew in leaps and bounds. New
interest in social history among scholars created a publishing revolution where the previously unread diaries and journals from the past shed new light on the lives of the common people. Experimental Living History programs at selected National Park Service sites created intense interest in recreated clothing and material culture. Expansion of these programs led
to professional study and publishing official guidelines presentations.
endorsement, with the NPS to Living History programs and
The Bicentennial of the American Revolution, July 4th, 1976, put recreated battles and famous events on national television. A decade later, during the 125th anniversary of the Civil War, recreated battles at Gettysburg drew audiences of over 100,000 people. Interest in the PBS Civil War series, and the motion pictures Glory and Gettysburg, brought larger crowds and participants to the field. During 2003, the 140 anniversary of Gettysburg featured a full-scale reenactment of th
Pickett’s Charge, with over 15,000 Confederate reenacters and over 200,000 spectators.
Today, at most historical events, a group of living historians dressing and representing their ancestors are part of
any official program.
Recognized for their dedication
part of any professional museum’s During the next two months, we will be
interpretive offering the
public Lakes before _____
some of the finest Living History programs area. Come on out and enjoy history as it your eyes.
in the Great comes alive
1 Jay Anderson, The Living History Sourcebook, 1985, The American Association for State and Local History, pp 3-5. Jay Anderson, Time Machines: the World of Living History, AASLH, 1985, Pp1-13.
2 3 http://www.kansasheritage.org/abilene/ikedoud.htm Steve Silvia & Mike O’Donnell, Civil War Reenactments, Moss Publications, Orange, Virginia, 1985, pp. 6-12. Time Machines, p. 135-139.
Time Machines, p. 143.
September/October Wants List by Assistant Director John Gibney
Outdoors People needed!
Hey all you outdoor types! As you go out to witness the autumnal offerings of the Great Lakes area please let us know if you find any sources of bark for our wigwams. Hunters, especially DEER hunters, we are actively seeking out deerskin for the exhibits at the NATP. Those of you who have extra skins, please consider donating them to our programs. We try to feed our folks at the Lantern Tours with food that we make ourselves so any additions are greatly appreciated. Any of you lucky enough to draw turkey permits, we are always on the lookout for turkey feathers.
OLD NEWS by Jim Ryland
407 West Fourth Street is a modest vernacular home. It is on Lot 30 of the Lawrence Plat, which was laid out by Judge Wolcott Lawrence in 1836. This plat began at the railroad just south of West Front and went south along Hubble Street to Seventh Street.
By the year 1857 Samuel S. Parker owned Lots 29- 33, but no homes were on the lots. In 1859 he is still listed as the owner on the map and again no homes were on any of the lots.
On the 1866 map a house shows up on the adjoining lot (31) and from the map it is a typical Federal Style home with the roof facing the street and three to five bays wide.