Friday, March 25, 2022

Welcome Back, Kalamazoo Living History Show

"The past is a foreign place,  and a person's portrayal of the past depends upon thousands of choices about the physical,  behavioral,  and cultural details of the period and place being presented.  Being authentic or truthful about the past involves much more than getting the clothing and the architectural details right..."
"We are tellers of stories,  we history folks.  Our decorative and utilitarian objects are not merely things,  but clues to tales of our past as a country.  We don't just purchase a lantern;  we investigate how it was used and the significance of the pattern of the piercing of the tin.
All of the looking back is also a looking forward as friends and families grow closer just as they would have in early America.  Make the right historical environment and let the situations and camaraderie unfold."
The two above quotes are from Tess Rosch - Publisher Early American Life Magazine and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich from her book,  "A Midwife's Tale."


It takes place annually on the 3rd weekend in March...
I look forward to it all year.
I begin to make plans to attend right after Christmas.
I can hardly sleep the night before the  "big day"  for it is nearly like Christmas Eve to me.
Just what in the world could it be that has gotten me so excited?
Off to Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo-zoo...
Why,  the Kalamazoo Living History Show,  of course,  where nearly 300 of the finest artisans and vendors of pre-1890 living history/reenacting clothing,  supplies,  and related crafts and accessories come together from throughout the United States and Canada to sell their wares to around 10,000 living historians and reenactors.  Most of the items you will find at this exposition centers from around the French & Indian War  (1754 - 1763)  era into the period of the Revolutionary War through the War of 1812 then up to the Civil War period.  Since I am good with what I need for reenacting the 1860s,  for the most part - having reenacted Civil War for very close to 20 years - my priority tends to be more mid-to-late 18th century.  And there is plenty of everything for those of us who are interested in that era.
Unfortunately,  due to Covid,  it's been since 2019 that this has taken place,  so we've all been chomping at the bit to go back.  One must remember that there aren't many places we can go to that specializes in the much-harder-to-find 18th century items needed to the extent the Kalamazoo Living History Show has.
Which is why over 10,000 people attend every year.
And why we were so excited this year after the covid hiatus.
Of course I dressed period,  as did my son  (though the others I rode with did not)  and we enjoyed fine conversation during the nearly three hour ride from the metro-Detroit area to Kalamazoo.
And,  yes,  I had my camera in tow:
The first thing I did was scurry over to where Samson's Historical was located and purchased a new Slate Linen 18th Century Civilian Coat,  an  "elegant gray linen coat   (that)  is lined with natural-colored linen."   It's a bit wrinkly here but I will steam it when I get home.
I really like the style. 
I have been dealing with Samson's for years now,  and I love how they've expanded their store from leather goods to nearly anything anyone could want to recreate the 18th century,  from clothing to a myriad of accessories.

Just a couple of rows beyond Samson's I ran into the owner of Townsends,  another fine dealer in all things 18th century,  and even early 19th century.  In this photo of Mr.  Townsend and I we also see Carol Jarboe portraying Maggie Delaney,  the Irish indentured servant.  She has a terrific DVD available:  HERE
Townsend was also set up in full force with clothing and accessories to help recreate times past.  I have three pairs of colonial shoes - all straight last and all bought from Townsend. 

I met this woman who was dressed as an 1812 lady in mourning.
It was the 1st time I've seen Regency mourning.
It is a subject I do find interesting.

As mentioned,  there were hundreds of dealers/vendors./sutlers selling their pre-1890s wares,  from military to citizen to mountain man.  Also there were plenty of books,  patterns for clothing,  wood lap desks,  and powder horns available for purchase:
This was just one vendor of powder horns.
If I was a seller of such an item I would name my shop  "Horns o'  Plenty"~

There were also gun makers working their craft right there in front of interested on-lookers:
Shaping the gun stock.

And the implements needed for those who wanted to try this at home.

Three halls filled - and the people came...

I enjoy those who work their crafts there.
It adds so much.

There was something for everyone...

This is always one of my favorite stops - one can
never have enough tinware.

The tinsmith...

My son was checking out the variety of coffee beans. 
He likes to grind his own coffee in the morning.

Another stop was Susan Hansen's Carrot Patch Farm.
Susan is a spinner as well and what you see for sale here is what she herself had spun
 from wool from her own sheep. 

Here I am next to Susan and her friend.
Susan's cousin married my son Robbie.
Yeah...we're sorta like family now.

It seemed like I couldn't walk more than 10 feet without meeting someone I knew.  Since I reenact two eras - and have been in the reenacting world for nearly 20 years - I know many people in this hobby.  It's like the old comment,  "These are my  people." 
They most certainly are!
Some of the best are right here!
Unfortunately,  they don't know how to  "dress"  lol
Well...except for that guy on the left...

In this photo there are those who reenact Revolutionary War and/or Civil War
and/or  WWII  (even though there were no 1940s vendors here,  for this show was
strictly pre-1890).  

The past is a foreign place indeed,  and the Kalamazoo Living History Show helps us to become more a part of it.  I am often asked where I get my period clothing and accessories to help bring the past to life,  for most people can tell what we wear does not come from a costume shop and our implements are not from an arts & crafts store.  They can usually see that the quality is much higher.  And more accurate.  
Photo by
Loretta Tester
Photo by
Anne Nicolazzo
I like to hope  (and I've been told)  that I do a pretty fair job in my presentation.   
<           >
I really do try,  but I know that there is always room for improvement,  and to get a decent set of  "new"  clothing from the ground up - a coat,  waistcoat,  shirt,  breeches,  socks,  cravats/neckstocks,  buckle shoes,  and cocked hat - can cost from as little as $500 to upward of $1500 or more in some cases,  though a higher price does not always mean higher in accuracy.  And if you really want to be as accurate as you can,  each garment should be hand-sewn.  Of course,  you would have to find someone willing to take on such a task,  which will certainly increase the total price.  Or do it yourself,  if you know how to sew.
Then there is that little thing called  "time" to allow to sew it all...
Either way,  a good many in this hobby seem to do their best to be as accurate as possible.  I like to think that if I suddenly found myself zapped into the past,  no one would give me a second glance...unless I opened my mouth to speak  (lol).
Much of it boils down to how much is one willing or is able to invest in their hobby of living history.  I mean,  it is not cheap to recreate the world of the past.  
But the Kalamazoo Living History Show gives the reenactor of all levels the opportunity to,  at the very least,  get a good start,  and,  at most,  to add to their kit to bring the past to life in such a way as to have  (or present)  that travel through time experience.
Yeah...the Kalamazoo Living History Show is as good as it gets. 
Living history indeed!

Until next time,  see you in time.

~   ~   ~

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Patriots Presentation For the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)

After a two-year wait,  me and my co-living historians,  Larissa and Bob,  were finally able to present to members of the local Detroit Chapter of the SAR:  the Sons of the American Revolution,  which is the largest male lineage organization in the U.S.   We were supposed to do this presentation two years ago,  but,  you know...covid and all...  But on Saturday March 12,  2022  we were able to speak to the men  (and a few women)  whose blood runs deep in our American history!
Our Patriots presentation centers on three people who played a role in the American Revolution:  Ben Franklin and any number of famous topics he was involved in,  Sybil Ludington,  who made a harrowing ride two years after Paul Revere's,  and Paul Revere who spoke of his most famous of warning rides. 
Benjamin Franklin,  Sybil Ludington,  and Paul Revere.
Okay,  so I don't look like Mr.  Revere,  and we have no idea what Miss Ludington
looked like.
But the likeness of!
Yeah...and then there's the information we speak on...that's what counts.

The Detroit Metropolitan Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution works with other organizations in furthering the understanding of the War for Independence - teaching and celebrating our early American history.  
A few years ago I was very proud,  humbled,  and honored that my family and I had been selected to receive the Flag Certificate of Commendation from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution – Detroit Metro Chapter - for my displaying of historic American flags.
In 2019 my family and I were recipients of  the wonderful flag commemoration
you see me holding up.
I began collecting historic flags nearly two decades ago and have been purchasing
them ever since.  I fly them at my house frequently,  which garners great conversations
from passersby,  and I especially love to fly them at our historical reenactments, 
which also is a great teaching opportunity.
It was such an honor.
For this March 2022 presentation,  the flag I brought along with me was the Taunton Flag,  which was first adopted on October 21,  1774 after the Sons of Liberty had forced out American Loyalists from Taunton,  Massachusetts.  'Twas the Reverend Caleb Barnum who originally proposed a plan for a symbol of opposition to the Crown and was one of the early purveyors for support for American independence.  In commemoration,  the Patriots erected a liberty pole,  112 feet high,  outside of the Taunton Courthouse and the house of Tory Loyalist lawyer Daniel Leonard.  It was on this pole they raised the Red Ensign with the words  "Liberty and Union"  sewn onto it - the Taunton Flag  (which was adopted as the city flag of Taunton by a resolution of the Taunton City Council on October 19,  1974).
The Taunton Flag - a banner not often seen in modern times.
I was very pleased to find this made of cotton:  "Early American flags were made from wool,  cotton,  linen or silk,  depending on the availability of materials and the intended use,"  Kansas State University professor emeritus of textile science Barbara Gatewood said. 
A combination of these materials also was used sometimes.  A wool bunting fabric,  which was produced in England,  was the material of choice for early American flags,  she said.  This material was favored over cotton,  which faded more quickly and didn't unfurl as well in the wind.  However,  many early American homemade flags were cotton because it was readily available.  Linen was a less favorable material,  although it was often used to make the stars or to sew flags because of its strength.
"Flags made from silk were more expensive,  and thus were used in flags for military purposes and special occasions,"  Gatewood said.
I also brought along a replicated  "Old North Church Lantern"  made and sold by the Concord Antiquarian Society back in 1975 to commemorate America's bicentennial.  The society has the one remaining of the two lanterns that shined on that fateful night back in 1775. 
The one remaining original Old North 
Church Lantern that signaled 
Paul Revere to make his 
famous ride on April 18, 1775.
It is now in the care of the 
Concord Antiquarian Society.
At the time,  little or no significance was placed on the lanterns used to send the momentous signals,  as is often the case.  For the preservation of the sole-survivor of the original pair,  seen in the picture at left,  we have three people to thank.  First is Robert Newman,  sexton of Christ Church  (Old North Church),  who was a friend of Paul Revere's and one of two people who climbed the 154 stairs that took them to the ladder to climb even higher into the steeple,  the tallest marker in Boston at the time,  to set the signal.  Because Newman saved the lantern,  I believe he may have had a sense of history about him.  I have not found what happened to the second lantern.
The second person to thank is Captain Daniel Brown of Concord.  He obtained the lantern from Newman in 1782,  and it's believed he recognized  its historical importance.  It remained in Brown's family until 1853,  when it passed into the possession of Cummings E.  Davis.  Davis was a collector of old items - the kind of things most others didn't want to keep,  in this case mostly colonial artifacts with local histories.  This hobby of his led to Davis,  over time,  acquiring what is now considered to be the first great collection of early American artifacts,  including the Old North Church lantern from the descendants of Daniel Brown.
The Davis collection became so large and attracted so much attention and interest that he began to devote all of his time maintaining and exhibiting it.  In 1886,  because of age,  illness,  and expense,  Davis willingly gave up ownership of this amazing collection of Colonial America to the newly formed Concord Antiquarian Society,  whose purpose was to preserve and exhibit the artifacts,  which continues to this day as the Concord Museum.
Here is the original 1975 76 advertisement
from the Saturday Evening post.  
It was also in Life,  Time,  and Newsweek.
I wanted the lantern so bad!!
Let's jump ahead 200 years,  to the beginnings of America's Bicentennial celebrations - 1975.  The Limited Edition Collector's Society,  with the approval and blessings of the Concord Antiquarian Society,  arranged for the meticulous production of a limited number of certified,  authentic copies of the Paul Revere/Old North Church Lantern.  According to the Limited Edition Collector's Society,  there are only two aspects of the lantern in which the reproductions are not absolutely faithful to the original:
First,  they were not individually hand-made by a craftsman,  for this would have raised the price much higher than what was charged in 1975.
Second,  metals such as sterling silver and pewter were used instead of the impure sheet iron in which the originals were made.  Again,  this was due to cost as well as the fact that the old metals would rust over time,  as has the original.
These Bicentennial lanterns were meant to be high-quality heirlooms...keepsakes.
And,  after searching all over the internet for quite sometime,  I was able to find one of these replicas that are now almost antiques themselves!
My replicated
Old North Church Lantern from 1975
with a candle burning…
The plaque that is placed upon the plinth:
Considering it is now nearly 50 years old,  the lantern is nearly an antique itself!
Back in late 2014 while combing the  'net,  I would find the lanterns here and there,  though not very often,  and they would usually be priced way out of my reach.  As cool as they were - and how badly I wanted one - I simply could not justify spending such a price.
So I kept searching...searching...searching...until I happened across one on Craig's List  (I never go on Craig's List!  Why did I go on it on this particular day?  Maybe it was meant to be...)
I contacted the person selling it and he told me that he was now in his 80's and since his children were uninterested he thought he'd sell it off and make a little money.
The price was pretty darn cheap when compared to others I've seen,  and I became excited.  Maybe,  finally,  I might own one of these awesome replica lanterns I've wanted for all these years!  The seller also mentioned that a couple clips that held the glass were broken off and two panes of glass were missing as well.  Because of this he gave me a better deal.
I asked him why he was willing to part with the lantern after 40 years,  and he wrote back with,  "My last birthday brought me to 83 and the realization that it's time to find new homes for some of my life's impulsive acquisitions.  My children's interests lie elsewhere,  negating them as the willful beneficiaries." 
Lucky for me,  I suppose,  but also kind of sad in a way.  I certainly wish I had more of my own father's  "impulsive acquisitions."
But,  to me,  it was their loss,  and now it is my unbelievable gain,  and for that I'm thankful.  Very much so,  for I remembered the advertisements and thinking back then how great it would be to have something like this.
And I bring this replicated lantern with me when I speak as Paul Revere.  Oh the fact that two - not one - lanterns were  "shewn"  in the Old North Church tower is not always known  (most tend to think only one was lit).  Except...for this latest talk I missed my cue---and forgot to hold it up at this presentation for the Sons of the American Revolution.  It was there right by me...but my brain has been a bit scattered of late...but for good reason:  my fourth grandchild,  Elijah,  was born only two days before.  
Yeah...pretty,  I got a great surprise just before my speech,  which we will get to shortly.
There's the lantern...right behind me.
Other than that my first Paul Revere presentation in a few years went well.
By the way,  I did talk about the lanterns and how  " I "  (Paul Revere)  helped to come up with the entire lantern-in-the-steeple plan back in April of 1775.  I also made sure to hit on all of the important parts of the story:  the Stamp Act,  the repeal of the Stamp Act,  the Boston Massacre,  the Boston Tea Party,  the rough treatments by the Redcoats,  and,  of course,  the famous ride that took place on the evening of April 18,  1775.
I was followed by Sybil Ludington,  a heroine of the American Revolutionary War.  On April 26,  1777,  the 16 year-old daughter of a colonel in the Colonial militia,  Henry Ludington,  made an all-night horseback ride to alert militia forces in the neighboring towns of what is today's Putnam County,  New York of the burning of Danbury,  Connecticut by British forces.
Larissa tells the story as an older Sybil,  and always
does such an amazing job at it.
It's been said the story of Sybil Ludington isn't true,  that it is all a myth.  Some say it is partially true,  though it has been embellished quite a bit.  And others swear to it being fact.  As Larissa says during her presentation,  there is plenty of information available about this young lady,  so please research to make your own decision.
I believe it is true but may have been embellished a bit.
By the way,  there are statues of Sybil and there were US postal stamps in her honor as well.
And then we had Benjamin Franklin speak:
Bob's presentation was on the Silence Dogood letters
Mrs. Silence Dogood was the pen name used by Benjamin Franklin to get his work published in the New-England Courant,  a newspaper founded and published by his brother James Franklin.  The letters were published in The New-England Courant fortnightly  (every two weeks),  and amused readers.  Some men even wrote in offering to marry Ms. Dogood,  upon learning she was widowed.
Eventually,  James found out that all fourteen of the letters had been written by his younger brother,  which angered him.  Benjamin left his apprenticeship without permission and escaped to Philadelphia.
All of this wonderful history!!
Well,  for us to present to the Sons of the American Revolution was such an honor!  I mean,  to be in a room filled with those who were descended from Revolutionary War soldiers is really quite a historical thrill.  And they were a fine audience indeed,  for they showed a keen interest in hearing the stories of which helped to found our great country.
But something else happened at this event that was quite the unexpected surprise.  Before we went on as our historical counterparts,  President Chris White spoke:
The Sons of the American
Revolution Bronze Medal
"The Bronze Good Citizenship Medal is designed to recognize an individual who has made an important contribution to the community.  Ken Giorlando has been a living historian for almost 20 years.  (He)  actively writes multiple history-based blogs including Passion for the Past...and Greenfield Village Open-Air Museum.  He also maintains the Friends of Greenfield Village Facebook page.
Throughout the year you may run into Ken at Greenfield Village,  Mill Race Village,  Historic Fort Wayne,  Cass River Encampment in Frankenmuth,  Colonial Kensington,  or many other places around the Midwest.
We first met Ken at Colonial Days at Historic Fort Wayne back in 2018 and have been following his exploits around the Midwest since then.  Along with Larissa Fleishman,  they hone their first-person skills as 18th century farmers.  Their Year in the Life of a Colonial Farm  (presentation)  was the highlight of our 2019 annual meeting,  and we look forward to their presentation today along with Bob Stark.
In recognition of Ken's ongoing efforts to keep history alive in our community,  the Detroit Metro Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution is very pleased and honored to present him with the SAR Bronze Good Citizenship Medal."
I then was presented with the Bronze Medal along with the certificate.

Detroit Metro Chapter SAR President Chris White did
the honors.
I cannot even begin to tell you how honored I am to receive this.  When Chris read the above words,  I absolutely had no idea what was going on.  No warning---totally oblivious.  Taken off guard.
I wasn't sure how to even respond.
I am touched...and,  yeah,  a bit emotional.  For me,  this is as great an honor as I could ever receive...especially knowing it came from those who are descended from men who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
Thank you so very much.
It was given to me at the beginning of our Patriots Presentation - before we spoke - - yikes!  lol
I was honored to have my wife,  Patty,  there,  who is also a member of the DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution.
My wife Patty - who has her own Revolutionary War ancestor  (and she is in the Daughters of the American Revolution) - knew about this surprise for a while and never said a word to me.  As she wrote:  "Very proud of you and so glad I was able to keep it a surprise!!!"
And that was when I found out that Patty & Larissa both knew about it for a couple of months!  As Larissa wrote  (on Facebook):  I love it when a good surprise goes off without a hitch!  Very well deserved!  Thank you for sharing your passion for the past  (😜)  with us all and always motivating me to never stop learning.  I’m so glad I get to do history with you!
After the presentation had ended,  we were pretty hungry so we
decided to go to a nearby restaurant - Bagger Dave's Tavern.
Go figure---a tavern!
While there much of our talk was on the presentation as well as history itself,  so my contribution was explaining that taverns were the pulse of 18th century urban life,  and their importance to the local community could not be overstated.  By the 1760s and 1770s,  the taverns were the rendezvous for those who believed in the Patriot cause and listened to the stirring words of American rebels,  who mixed dark treason to King George with every bowl of punch they drank.  The story of our War for Independence could not be dissociated from the old taverns,  for they are a part of our national history,  and those which still stand are among our most interesting Revolutionary relics.
And we messed with our waitress  (who took the above photo)  by asking her about a few old-time drinks no longer found in most public taverns.  When my friend Theresa heard of our conversation,  she asked,  "Ooh!  What specific ones did you mention?  Switchel?  Meade?  Water?"  To which I replied,  "Water...and why it was not so popular to drink  (lol)  and Madeira  (Washington loved Madeira)  as well as another favorite of his,  Cherry Bounce." 
What fun we had at such a fine place to dine and drink  (now,  now---I had root beer!).

So there was our day,  which was a very good one indeed!  It felt good to do our Patriots Presentation again after so many years.  Larissa and Bob are such great presentation partners.  And to do it for these folk whose blood runs thick in American history and patriotism...such a feeling like no other.  It was a wonderful way to spend a March day...

Until next time,  see you in time.

To learn more about Paul Revere,  please click HERE

To learn more about Sybil Ludington,  please click HERE

To learn about William Dawes,  who rode with Paul Revere,  please click HERE

To learn of the other Patriot Riders from April 1775,  please click HERE

If you are interested in the important role that taverns played in the founding of our great nation,  click HERE

Flag fabric information came from THIS site

If in the metro-Detroit area,  check out Bagger Dave's Tavern HERE  (great burgers!!)

~   ~   ~

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Language of the 18th Century: Greetings, Conversations, and Partings to Accent Your Presentation

Living history in the manner of which I have presented here is not for everyone.
Remember - this is an opinion piece.  Nothing more---nothing less.


As living historians,  we care greatly about the clothing we wear.  We sometimes go to such extremes to make sure every nuance - every stitch - is absolutely spot on.  And why wouldn't we?  It is the first thing people see when they come out to a reenactment.
Then we open our mouths,  and much of the magic disappears.
Well,  you know we can do something about that,  right?


"You are judged by the words you use" ~~~~~~~
I believe this to be true in all walks of life,  so why should it not be true for us as living historians?  There are few things worse at a reenactment than to watch as an impeccably-dressed historic reenactor speaks to a group of visitors and hear them talk using full modern vernacular,  even,  like,  using the,  you know,  slang of  21st century high schoolers---no cap.  Or worse yet,  pull out a phone as if giving a power point presentation or something.
Now,  mind!  I am not even necessarily meaning we should speak in a 1st person vernacular here.  But at least give a hint that you pertain to somewhat be of another era in your speech patterns.
Please allow me to explain:
My dear,  I am not quite sure how we
found ourselves suddenly back into the
time of the founding generation,  but we
must conform else there could be problems.
To study language of times past can be a daunting task.  Since there are no actual recordings of the human voice before the end of the 19th century,  we may never know for certain how the English language and conversations during the time of the American Revolution may have truly sounded,  or even how certain words were pronounced.  However,  with a little detective work,  we can make very good educated guesses.  Reading books,  especially diaries,  letters,  journals,  and even news print  (such as broadsides)  can certainly steer us in the right direction.  Since so many colonials spelled their words phonetically,  their writings can be a guide for us in our own pursuit of how they spoke.
One good example of  "phonetics as language"  comes from the well-researched book about Paul Revere by David Hackett Fischer called  Paul Revere's Ride.  In it Fischer writes how Revere spoke with a  "harsh,  nasal,  New England twang"  and that we can  "hear him  (by)  the eccentric way he spelled his words."  For example,  Paul Revere wrote the word  'get'  as  'git'  every time,  and,  though his mother's maiden name was  'Hitchborn,'  it was written as  'Hitchbon.'  We also sometimes find  'charter'  as  'chattaer,'  which was probably pronounced with no  'r'  at all.  'Boston'  was  'Bast'n,'  'marsh'  became  'mash,'  'want'  was  'weren't,'  'hull'  for  'whole,'  'foller'  for  'follow,'  'sarve'  for  'serve,'  and  'acummin'  for  'coming.'
18th century Connecticut farmer,  Samuel Daggett,  consistently wrote  'coffin'  as  'coffain  or  'coffan,'  and  'potatoes'  as  'pertators.'  And he wrote  'booshil'  for  'bushel.'
I have seen similar phonetics in my own ancestral family.  For instance,  my 18th century 5th great grandparents,  Jonathan and Mary Heacock,  which I always pronounced as HEEcock,  have spelled their surname numerous times more as HAYcock in documents of the time.  This leads me to believe the pronunciation of the first syllable is most likely HAY and not HEE. 
Now I,  in no way,  plan to attempt to speak with an accent during an event in the way an old Bostonian such as Paul Revere may have spoken.  However,  like the accessories brought to accent one's camp site,  such as lanterns,  eating & drinking utensils,  and period tools & crafts,  language,  to a good extent,  is also important,  for it brings a greater understanding to the period for us socially as modern students of history.  And,  yes,  it is true that the farther back in time we go,  the more difficult words can be to read or even pronounce.  Even then,  there is enough familiar verbiage that one can discern to give,  for instance,  the Renaissance reenactor's voice a flair that will keep their speech pattern more interesting,  without sounding like a typical RenFaire rennie announcer.
As for me,  I only go back to the mid-18th century,  and therefore the spoken word isn't impossible to use or understand.  And...there are a few phrases which can easily be applied to my vernacular---without  an accent.
Welcome to the 1760s.
How fun it can be to add some color  (or,  ahem,  colour)  to a presentation by tossing in a word here or a sentence there that fits the time you are representing.
An 18th century time-traveler's companion
There are numerous period diaries and journals available in book form - wonderful language guides - and can easily be purchased on line.  However,  there is also a book I found where the author did some deep research on the colonial language herself by way of  said diaries & journals,  as well as broadsides,  letters,  depositions...really digging to get as close as one can to this almost foreign language,  and she gathered the examples for a concise book:  "Eighteenth Century English as a Second Language."  Cathleene Hellier's book is,  simply put,  the best available researched source on the subject that I've seen.  In fact,  it is the only  book like this that I've seen!  Ms.  Hellier is a Colonial Williamsburg historian who works in the training and research department for the historic open-air museum,  and the book is published through the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  This could be the most extensive assemblage of colonial verbiage collected as a teaching tool available.  Yes,  it does center around the Virginia dialect,  so the accent can be slightly different as compared to New England,  but I am willing to bet word usage and phrases can very well be accepted throughout the colonies.  In between the front and back cover you'll find  "a series of lessons designed to help character interpreters to better understand how English was spoken in the eighteenth century and,  consequently,  to help them to sound more like the persons they portray."
What I have in this week's post is only a quick overview of a few of the lessons I've learned and read on and will hopefully be another way to lead living historians onto another pathway in our journey to bring the past forward:

~Meetings and greetings~
First off,  it is unfortunate that Ms.  Hellier does not go into the bow or curtsy,  for I was at the mercy of other living historians and the internet for this info.  But as I combed through my research,  the following is the deduction I have been able to arrive at,  and you can be assured that what I have written herein is fairly sound-------
A slight bow at the waist with slightly extended arms  (or arm)  is the proper way for two colonial men to greet each other,  followed by the verbal greeting of your choice:
"How do you do?"  was a popular greeting and oftentimes included 
an extended hand and slight bow between gentlemen.  
"Pray,  good sir,  if I may be so bold..."
"I wish you a good day."
"What say you,  sir,  on a day such as this?"
"Good morning"  (or  "good day"  or  "good night" - depending,  obviously,  
on the time of  day).
"But what's wrong with  'Hello'?"  you ask.
It was not until Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone in 1876 that  "hello"  came about.  When this telephone device came along that year nobody was sure what the correct way to answer it was.  The use of  ‘hello’  was suggested by Thomas Edison.  Bell,  however,  preferred the use of the nautical terms  ‘ahoy’  or  ‘ahoy-hoy’  as used to hail ships.  'Hello'  eventually won out in popular usage,  but if you watch the cartoon series  ‘The Simpsons’  you’ll find that Mr.  Burns always answers the phone,  "ahoy-hoy." 
Prior to  using the word  'hello'  as a greeting,  the predominant address would have been as listed above.  The word  "halloo"  or  "hullo"  existed,  but it was used as an expression of surprise - you'll find it a lot in Arthur Conan Doyle's  'Sherlock Holmes'  stories.   And Thomas Edison's workers would shout  "halloo"  to each other at the Menlo Park laboratory.  Even Charles Dickens wrote in  'A Christmas Carol'  (1843):  "A merry Christmas to everybody!   A happy New Year to all the world!  Hallo here!  Whoop!  Hallo!"
So,  simply removing  "hello"  or  "hi"  from your presentation is a wonderfully easy start.

The handshake between men in the 18th century living history world has always been a no-no.  It was thought to be as foreign to one from the 1700s as a high-five.  But I have found the opposite to be true.  Though there were no  "high fives"  at the time,  there was the hand shake.  Now it seems that in the 16th and 17th centuries,  and probably for a good deal of the 18th century,  shaking hands had a different meaning from the ritual act we know today.  It looks as if the gesture was not part of any greeting or parting behavior at all but that it had quite different connotations which centered around such concepts as friendship,  brotherhood,  peace,  reconciliation,  accord,  or mutual agreement.  A handshake was also used to seal a business transaction.  
So,  what all this means is that though the handshake as a greeting was not common practice,  it was not an unknown gesture at the time for reasons noted above.  And I am pretty certain not every culture shook hands.
But,  it was a part of society in some form or another.
This comes from the well-researched book,  A Cultural History of Gesture by Jan Bremmer & Herman Roodenburg.
The Celebration of the Peace of Munster painting by Heist from 1648.
Check out the two men clasping hands in a shake on the right.

Now,  for the women,  we have the curtsy.
The curtsy  (or curtsey)  is a traditional gesture of greeting by a girl or a woman to someone more senior in social rank and dates back to at least the Middle Ages.  It is derived from a  'courtesy'  and is simply a mark of respect.  It became gender specific in the 17th century,  with men adopting the bow,  and women the curtsey.  Like the bow for a male,  the curtsey was used by women as a greeting in the 18th century.
"How do you do,  Miss Jordan,  I am right heartily glad to see you."
"Good day to you,  Sir."
From what I could find,  neither the bow nor the curtsy should be directed toward anyone of a lower class from one of  a higher class.  Only lower to upper and to equals  (usually of a middling on up)  class.
Of course,  different centuries had different courtesies.  Please,  if you have corrections and further information  (from good sources),  let me know.  I certainly would appreciate it. 
"Honour me,  Madam,  with one dance."
"You do me honour,  Sir,  but I believe I will not dance at all."
Many thanks to Jordan for the poses.

And continuing on...
Many folks also addressed one another according to relationship:
father,  mother,  grandfather,  grandmother,  daughter,  son,  nephew,  
uncle,  cousin,  etc.:  
"My dear Niece!  It is very good to see you on this day." 
 Another popular greeting  (and one that has become my personal favorite)  was  
"How does all at home?"
 "How does your father  (mother,  etc.) ?"

"Mr."  was still used before the surname,  such as  "Mr.  Jones,"  and  "Mrs."  was used as we use it today,  though there were quite a few who still pronounced it as  "mistress."

"Miss Wright.
I pray this day finds you well.
How does your father,  old fellow?"

~Useful expressions~
Other ways to help build upon your conversation that will certainly liven up any presentation at a reenactment for visitors and/or other living historians to hear or even take part in would be to include a shortening of some phrases,  such as  'or else'  to just  "else"  and use  "only"  for a substitute for  'but': 
"I am glad I did not travel to Lexington this evening else I would be
caught in the excitement."

"My dear wife had planned to travel with me only she felt unwell."

Here are a few other phrases that can be used:
"to have been brought to bed of a son/daughter"  (meaning to have given birth of a son or daughter - excellent especially if you know of someone who recently had a baby)
"to have catched cold"  (during cold and flu season,  this can be a great description during a conversation)
"to be much mended"  (feeling better - - yep  "I was very ill but I am now much mended.")
"a very fine weather day"  (this can be used quite often...daily,  in fact)
"the wind chopped about"  (changed direction - I like this one)
"go to housekeeping,"  (This phrase comes from the book  "A Midwife's Tale"  by Lauren Ulrich,  which was when a newlywed couple moved in together after marriage)

~More expressions to use~
 (Some of which are still used today with the same meanings)
Here I am conversing with Mr.  John Greenhow,  who was a merchant in Williamsburg from about 1755 until his death in 1787.
"I did  not get a wink of sleep  last night due to the severity of the storm last evening.
Here are a few more expressions:
* to bring up the rear
* to stand a chance
* to be true blue
* to be in the dark
* let the cat out of the bag
* to be in the dumps
* to be at the end of one's tether
* to be sent upon a fool's errand
* to not care a farthing  (or a fig)  about_______
* to take the bull by the horns
* necessity is the mother of invention
* it never rains but it pours
* when in Rome,  do as the Romans do
* to put on airs
* make hay while the sun shines

"Well,  my dear,  the proof of the pudding is in the eating..."

To continue to make your speech sound more 18th century,  occasionally use the form  "was"  instead of  were,  or use  "is"  instead of are.  
For example,  say  "You are not the man you was formerly,"  instead of  "you are not the man you were formerly."  
Another good example is  "My servant is run away,"  instead of saying  "My servant has run away."
Rather than say  "He had nearly died,"  say,  instead,  "He had near died."
What was considered  "genteel profanity"  in the 18th century is unlike a prayer today:
God knows,  God forbid,  Lord!,  God bless me  (used mainly by women:  "God bless me!  I hardly knew you!"),  Thank God - -
"Alas,  poor Anna,  Lord bless me,  she sang out of tune at times,  though,  thank God, 
not always!"

Adding  "a-"  to a verbal form used as an adjective,  such as Paul Revere did for  'coming'  ("a-cummin'")  will also help to liven up your 18th century language usage:
And as far as contractions,  most that we use today were in general conversational use in the 18th century:
But here are a few popular contractions from the 1700s that have lost favor in our modern society:
'Tain't  (it is not)
sha'n't  (shall not)
mayn't  (may not)
ha'n't  (have/had/has not)
One pamphlet from Colonial Williamsburg,  "Eight Easy Ways To Make Your Speech Sound More Eighteenth-Century,"  suggests that interpreters say,  " 'tis"  and  " 'twill"  in place of  "it's"  and  "it'll."  It also recommends  "sir"  and  "madam"  in direct address to provide an atmosphere of proper formality,  even in everyday conversation.
When I was at Colonial Williamsburg,  the interpreters there used  "above stairs"  and  "luster"  in place of  "upstairs"  and  "chandelier."   It's this sort of thing I hope to strive for when I am out at an event,  especially inside or around period structures:  to create the atmosphere of the time.  Oh,  it will not happen every time...but I mean,  imagine,  while at a reenactment,  hearing one of the living historians say,  "How does your lady,  sir?"  which I believe would catch the ear and mind of a visitor,  don't you?  And they may imagine that 18th century folk spoke more elegantly and properly.  But the usage of such ungrammatical   (but period-correct)  constructions as  "suprisingest"  for  "most surprising"  and to mangle subject-predicate agreement will help to give different historical perspectives.
Imagine the conversations!
(photo courtesy of Fred Blystone)

~Partings and farewells~
The common  "Your servant,"  "I am your obedient servant,"  and  "I am your most humble servant,"  are all certainly very acceptable to use when parting company.
"I wish you a good day,"  or  "Good day to you,  sir"  are also very good parting comments.
Imagine seeing Rebecca & I speaking as we were.
For two of us to part company,  the farewell should go something like this:
Me:  "Good day to you madam."
Rebecca: "The like to you, sir." 
It would be very difficult for the two of us to carry on a full conversation as colonials,  for it would take such a long time to learn everything to make it not sound contrived - almost like learning a foreign language.  However,  by dropping in a few bits of terminology from the past to flavor our speech could brighten what the visitor hear and perhaps pull them into our world of 250 years ago,  even for a short time.  
Now,  I know that many in this hobby could not care less about historic language use,  but I personally would like to see living historians do more than learn about the past;  I feel to help bring the past to life we should try to undo the present beyond clothing by weeding out modernisms as best as we can,  which means,  as representatives of colonials and early Republic,  anything that entered American English after 1800.  Out goes  "okay"  and  "no problem."  In place of   "I'd like your input,"  we can try to substitute  "What are your sentiments?"  But some seemingly modern sayings have colonial roots,  such as  "Birds of a feather flock together,"  "When in Rome,  do as the Romans do,"  and  "No news is good news."  Using adages like those can build a bridge between living historians and visitors because they help people understand that what they still may say today reaches into the past.
It takes practice and is an initial slow-go to pull it all together,  but imagine what it would be like to visit a reenactment and listen in on the colonials conversing:
"How do you do?  How does all at home?"
"Oh,  some have catched cold but seem to be much mended."
"Aye,  I am heartily glad to hear this.  And,  pray,  how have your crops fared?"
"Indeed my crops have fared well,  though I have concerns.  It seemed so warm yesternight,  yet still we have a frost.  I sha'n't let it go to the dogs,  however."
"I am afraid we shall make but little corn unless we have rain soon."
A little story:
It's a clear Virginia day at Colonial Williamsburg.  Behind the Governor's Palace,  the eighteenth-century George Washington,  in the person of a character interpreter,  stands on a slightly raised platform,  speaking to a twenty-first-century audience about the political tensions that led to the American Revolution.  At the end,  one among the crowd asks a question,  an inquiry that shows the listener hasn't been paying attention.  Good naturedly,  the general says:  "Did you tune me out when I talked about that just a few minutes ago?"
The visitor laughs,  and the crowd laughs with him,  and Washington laughs and answers the question,  and the ever-so-slight linguistic hitch-if that's what it was-goes all but unnoticed.  The scene,  nevertheless,  illustrates an ever-present challenge for the costumed men and women of Colonial Williamsburg,  the interpreters who daily don not only the clothing but the vocabulary of the 1700s.  Washington said  "tune out,"  a phrase not coined until broadcasting began.  Its entry in the Oxford English Dictionary says it first appeared in print in 1931.  The real-life Father of Our Country,  knowing nothing of twirling knobs and dials to get better radio reception,  could not have used so anachronistic an expression.
From  "Speaking of the Past:  the Words of Colonial Williamsburg"
by James Breig

When Larissa  &  I do our historic presenting,  we do a semi-1st person as a colonial husband  &  wife,  though we will speak with a modern tongue.  We are teaching here,  which is a bit different than doing living history.  But we still stray from the trendy slang words,  which could and would squelch our  "authenticity."
Yes,  the clothing one wears can help to guide the way they act.  It is rather difficult to be a 21st century person while in knee breeches or a colonial dress no matter how hard you try.  In fact,  you look silly if you do!

 .   .

As far as language of the 1770s goes,  I barely scratched the surface.  Like most live languages,  English changes as it goes,  collecting new words and phrases to fit new conditions and modifying or discarding ones that no longer work.  It was as true three centuries ago as it is today.  
But please understand - I know the difficulty in keeping a total conversation in this manner.  However,  to intersperse a few of these verbal gems into your presentation while dropping modern vernacular during a reenactment will definitely spice up the atmosphere.  Now,  I fully understand that reenacting in this manner is not for everyone.  Heck---it's not even for me under many conditions.  And I'm not saying it's better or worse than other forms of historic presenting.  It is only a different path - not above or below.

The reenacting season is about to begin - - I hope today's posting helps you find a very successful journey in recreating the past.  Remember:  to hear an exchange centered on 21st century news events or the latest hot technology from those dressed in period clothing can be such a let down for the modern visitor who perhaps paid money to come to the reenactment.  
It was to me before I got into the hobby.
I understand that it happens - sometimes necessarily so during explanations or then  &  now circumstances.  But,  unfortunately,  other times,  unnecessarily so.  I mean,  you wouldn't leave a 2 liter bottle of Coke where it can easily be seen or wear a wristwatch at an event,  would you?
Yeah...just Ken's own thoughts...

Until next time,  see you in time.

Back in the day one had to dig deep and sometimes read between the lines to find the much sought after information about 18th century living.  But here in the 21st century,  there are books--plenty of books--of this type available.  It's just a matter of keeping your eyes peeled.  I may be scanning through various web sites such as  Jas Townsend or Samson Historical  (and other sites,  including  and will find books of this flavor available.  I also look for the bibliographies cited in the books I own to find where the author got some of their information.  And still, the members of various Facebook history pages may also throw in some of their finds - but be careful with social networking sites,  for those memes are so often wrong or strictly agenda-filled.  Don't get your degree in history by attending Facebook University.
So there are numerous ways today in which to find deep and well-researched history books.
And,  I have to say,  now that I help to teach high school history classes,  I do pass along the interesting information I find to the students.  And by doing so,  maybe---just maybe---I might garner a stronger interest in the subject from them.
Stronger than what I had when in school.
Here are a few postings about books I have in my collection

~   ~   ~