Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pioneer Farms Volunteering Day

Saturday I volunteered at Pioneer Farms in Austin. I was at the German Farm. It was a dreary, rainy day. It stopped raining  by the afternoon but it was cold and very windy and wind was chilly. We still had a few visitors though! Just a few pictures of the German farm.
German Farm-Kruger Cabin interpreted 1868
Back of cabin

The back woods and chicken coop, ignore the water spicket and hoses :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pioneer Farms Volunteer

This past weekend I started volunteering at Pioneer Farms in Austin. I helped out at the General Store running the register. The General Store, as the rest of the town site, is interpreted in the 1890s. New clothes!! Right now make do with homespun generic with an apron. Not ideal, but will work on proper 1890s. I plan to help out there 2 days or so a month at the store and at the German Farm site. The German Farm is interpreted as 1868, so my 1860 work dresses will be fine. Not sure the site is quite appropriate for Germans in Texas in 1868, but the cabin was built by a German so that is how they interpret it.

I spoke with the site director and they really want the site to interpret the history spot on and eventually get AAM acredited. I would like to help them with their costuming and maybe some of the interpretation. So now until I get another full time job I'll get my dress up fix and serve an organization that appreciates the help.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Civil War and the Material Culture of Texas, the Lower South and the Southwest

This passed weekend I attended the 3rd Biennial David B. Warren Symposium put on by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The focus was the Civil War. I missed the Friday night talk as I couldn't leave Austin until late. Saturday morning, then, was the first session I attended. The first presentation was on the William Hill Collection. This is a database being put together by the Kitty Powell Library at Bayou Bend. The database will catalog Texas artisans from the 1850-1900 censuses and 19th century Texas newspapers. It is based on the craftsman database at MESDA in Salem NC. The library has a grant to develop the database and will be working on this soon.

The next presentation was Pretty Pictures for Troubled Times: Portrayals of Plantation Properties. John Vlach was the speaker. He wrote the books Back of the Big House and The Planter's Prospect: Privilege and Slavery in Plantation Paintings. This was an interesting presentation on how the plantation was represented in art. It gave me a great idea for a conference proposal.

The next presentation was Reconstructions: Material Culture of the South Carolina Plantation by Dana Byrd. She discussed the plundering of the south by Union troops during the war. She stated that looting was done for 3 reasons either as souveniors, simply to destroy or due to envy of the weathy. It was an interesting session

Lunch was catered by Central Market. There were no tables in the room where lunch was served so we sat on a bench in the hall. On the wall was the strangest anime video called "City Glow". If you want to see it you can view part of it on Flickr at

After lunch we listened to No Cotton in the Kingdom: Textiles in the Civil War South. This is the one session we were really looking forward to and unfortunately we were disappointed. It was presented by Katie Knowles. The first part of her talk was spent explaining what fibers were; I really think most of the audience knew what silk, wool, linen and cotton are and where they come from. The next part she discussed cotton in eighteenth century France. She finally got to the 19th century and discussed the importance of cotton on the south's economy. She knew quite a bit about the effect of the cotton trade but little on the use of cotton outside of plantation cloth. I guess I expected images of the different textiles and uses, which were not presented. She also made a bad connection between a dress in a painting and one in a fashion plate. Was not very impressed with her research or her presentation.

The final presentation was on Monumental Achievement: the Civil War and the Making of American Memory. This presentation included slides of different Civil War monuments, almost exclusively from the Northeast. It was interesting to see the different types of monuments groups and cities put up in recognition of the Civil War dead.

After the symposium we went to see the King Tut exhibit. Wow...disappointing! The majority of the exhibit consisted of artifacts from other kings and tombs. Yes, they were great to see but I expected Tut. There was only small artifacts and the bed from his tomb and a reproduction of his mummy. I guess I just thought there would have been at least one "wow" artifact, you know the items you really think of when you think Tut. So then we visited the Life and Luxury exhibit on 18th century France. Beautiful! Really enjoyed that one. No photos though.

We had dinner at a great little restaurant with a friend of Nancy's and then to bed early. We had not planned to attend the next day's event, just too expensive; however, there was a drawing for free tickets and Nancy won. So to bed early to be on time to catch the bus.

Sunday we start at the new Bayou Bend Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which by the way is really nice. The Center also houses the Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center. Nancy and I were given a tour of the library. Very nice space. We then boarded the bus to travel to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to view Discovering the Civil War, a traveling exhibit from the National Archives. The exhibit also included pieces from the Nau Civil War Collection. The National Archives exhibit was basically a display of documents from the Archives, which are now digitized. Little on the home front. The Nau collection was all military focused with lots of guns and dags of soldiers. I'm glad I saw it but glad I didn't have to pay for it. We then went to Silver Eagle Distributing, Nau's business. Here we had lunch and listened to a talk about Robert E. Lee followed by a viewing of more of Nau's collection. I was able to get a few photos from this viewing.
Leather housewife
Donation list from Gonzales
for the comfort of soldiers in Terry's Regt.

General Order No. 12 from Marshall, Tx.
printed on wallpaper

All in all it was an enjoyable weekend even if it wasn't outstanding. I heard some good talks and met some very knowledgeable people.

Next conference is the Sexuality & Slavery: Exposing the History of Enslaved People in the Americas conference at UT. Shoud be interesting.