Three distinct living history experiences stand out in my childhood memories. Those sensorial experiences shaped my relationship to history.
A Window into the Past
The first memory is of a visit with my family to Historic Westville. A living history museum representing 19th century Columbus, Georgia. All these years later I still remember the taste of the ginger cakes and the lemonade. The interpreters clothes are still vivid in my mind.
The next memory is of a school field trip to the Columbus Museum. While it wasn’t a living history site, there were tangible displays with an essence of living history. Columbus is an old mill village. The museum represented the town’s history. It began with an exhibit of the native Muscogee all the way through the typical mill shotgun house. There was so much to touch and hear and takeaway.
The third memory is a visit to Callaway Gardens with my Girl Scout Troop. Callaway is not a living history site, but it does have a mid-1800s cabin constructed of Longleaf Pine.
This was my gateway into loving history. We made hand-dipped candles and corn-husk dolls!
I still have my doll. I’ve held onto her as long as any other cherished item from my childhood. Proof that those experiences had a lasting impact on me.
The Living History & Ancestor Connection
I grew up on my grandparents small, rural cattle farm. That kind of life exposes you to grit. They lived in the tiny three-bedroom house my grandfather built in the 1940’s with his own hands. Originally it had an outhouse, a detached kitchen, no running water. These details mattered to me.
I had to understand what life was like for the women who came before me. Especially the women of the 18th century. I craved a hands-on experience into the daily activities of their lives.
There were no matriarchs left to teach me once I was old enough to appreciate the primitive skills. Eventually, I found out those skills existed in the living history community, but didn’t know how to access them. I explored becoming a volunteer. Unfortunately, this information wasn’t easily accessible.
What I’ve come to understand since, is that I’m like most people who wind up in this community. We have a passion for history and a desire to connect with our ancestors. We want to be a part of this, but we just don’t know where to begin. I’ve also watched people not pursue it because of the intimidation that can wait at the gates of living history and reenacting.
Why I’m Here
I don’t have a history degree. I’m not an expert on extant garments or what people ate for breakfast in 1772. Thankfully, those people exist and and so many of them are beyond talented human beings with the same goal in mind: to teach history in an experiential and accessible manner.
As a former long-time, radio personality turned event planner and digital marketer, I brought that skillset into the living history community. As the Vice-Chair of a local, living history site, I saw a need for more marketing, more digital interaction, and more connection to the next generation of living historians.
After a year of testing my theories for the living history site, I created the Linen Agency. This company serves a resource for people wanting to grow their historically themed businesses. It is also a resource for living history sites to expand their virtual and digital footprint. The Linen Agency is especially a place where people can find resources to start their living history experience.
Beginner’s Guide to the 18th Century
Working with expert clothing makers, interpreters, and others, I’m developing an online community for Beginner’s Guide to the 18th Century. Launching in early summer 2020. In the meantime, check out my interviews with the living history community on YouTube. There is also an upcoming Beginner’s Guide to the 18th Century virtual workshop weekend May 16-17.
If you fall in the category of owning a historically themed business or work for a historic site, check out my free guide to grow your business.
My biggest belief is that there is room for everyone. This will always be a place of accessibility, keeping in mind those either beginning their journey into living history or those craving information. It is my absolute joy to bring this into the world and to get to know you!