Monday, October 31, 2011

Cool Things in the Mail

A couple of cool things in the mail the last week. First the exhibit catalog for the new exhibit at Kent State Museum, "On the Home Front: Civil War Fashions and Domestic Life." Wish I lived closer to see the exhibit in person. The catalog is divided into sections: Military Influence; Outerwear; Color, Pattern, Trim; Memories and Mementos; Foundations; King Cotton; and Weddings. There are photos of dresses, children's dressing, accessories and quilts. One of the dresses in the wedding section appears that it was made for a pregnant person. It has the weirdest waistband treatment. There are some lovely shawls and quilts. But it definately leaves you with wanting more. The photos give you a great overview but of course do not give you the detail. I still think it is a great resource. If you can't visit the exhibition I suggest getting the catalog. You can order the catalog by calling the museum or emailing with shipping address and credit card number. It is $7.95 with shipping to be determined.

The other book I received is "The Civil War Remembered: Official National Park Service Handbook." This contains essays by reknown Civil War scholars like Ed Ayers, James Horton, James McPherson, and Drew Faust. Lots of images. Looks like a good overview of several aspects of the war. You can find the book through e-parks at*The-Civil-War-Remembered/.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Civil War in Texas: Changing Interpretations After 150 Years

This past weekend I passed on Texian Market Days and attended this conference sponsored by Victoria College/University of Houston-Victoria. (While I felt bad not going to TMD as it was the 25th year, after seeing some of the photos I'm glad I didn't as it seemed to lack authenticity. Lots of netting on hats, false ringlet falls in unnatural colors and badly made up Simplicity patterns in upholstry fabric. I don't think I would have had a good time.)

The conference was well done with many well-qualified speakers. I was pleased to see several papers on minority populations. But not a lot of new information, although I did learn about some new sources I wasn't aware of. A new book to look out for: the letters between KM and Minerva Van Zandt. Being edited and I hope is published soon. The talk by Terry Alford on Booth and the assassination of Lincoln was very good. Very indepth information and background on Booth. Information you don't get from the History channel programs :). I also found the session on Bernard Bee Jr. very entertaining.

The obligatory "home front" papers were interesting. One paper was on the effect of the war on the home front, basically the same that I did for the Harrisburg conference even with the same sources, but with a completely different thesis. In this talk there was a lot of starvation and lives turned upside down. Sounded like she was talking about the upper south rather than Texas. She seemed to take the experience of people in Galveston and Corpus Christi and apply it to the entire state. Even one of the other speakers addressed this saying it was hard, a challenge, but nothing like what they experienced in other southern states.

I also enjoyed the session on the German population and their experiences in the war. But again, not much new information. I did learn quite a bit during the Latino topic session. That is a population I have not yet researched. There was an interesting session on Sally Skull; a kind of first person performance. Some of the speakers took roles of some of Skull's relatives, husbands, and acquaintences  and commented on her life. It sounded like a lot of what they read was taken from letters, diairies and other period accounts. An interesting way to explore a person's life and discuss contradicting accounts.

The rest of the sessions concentrated on military and reconstruction topics. There were a few books there, but I either have them or were not a topic of interest.

Next weekend I'm going to a symposium on material culture of the mid-19th century south. I'm hoping it meets my expectations; the topics sound wonderful. After that, events dry up. There is Imprisoned on the Frontier in November but I think money is going to be an issue getting up there so I may have to pass. Not much else on the calendar. Leaves me time for research.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Change of Plans

A slight change in things is causing me to miss Texian Market Days next weekend. However, it is allowing me to go to the The Civil War in Texas: Changing Interpretations After 150 Years in Victoria, Texas. I will miss TMD and playing dress up for the weekend, but the conference I think will be a great experience and lots of great information. Once again I'm finding I'm getting more out of research and true living history events rather than playing a dressed up docent and going to mainstream events, so I think this is a turn for the best anyway.

AAR after the weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Got Sprouts

My experiment in period gardening is working at least for two of the crops: Cucumbers and radishes

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seeds are sowed

This afternoon we cleaned the plot, broke up the dirt and sowed seeds: peas, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, and carrots. All period varieties from Landrum Seeds. Of course I forgot my camera, so no photos. We discovered an abandoned eggplant plant bearing fruit. Some may be thinking we've started late, yet a bit. But Texas' growing season can be quite long and sources are saying end of September to November 1 for planting our choices. So we'll see. We may get nothing, squirrels may eat everything, they may freeze or we'll have a great bounty in the spring.

The plots are a bit difficult to plant in as they are called kitchen gardens but planted as ornamental. So we're working around edging plants and a center plant we can't remove. We oly planted part of the plot with the vegies as we plan to plant herbs in the spring.