Lately I have been pondering the situation of the "civilian re-enactor". This is someone who chooses to portray a non-military person at public history events. This civilian often finds him or herself marginalized at events that are really all about soldiers marching about and playing "bang you're dead" or gunfighters doing what ever gunfighters do, as well as also target shooting or playing "bang you're dead".
Further, the civilian is often, by choice and situation a free agent without the support provided by an established group. This can be very isolating, and seriously degrade one's quotient of fun, with nothing much to do and no one to talk to.
Modern technology however offers an interesting opportunity to mitigate the negative aspects of wanting to portray the ordinary man, woman or child of the era while increasing the fun and impact of our activities.
A modern phenomenon is the "flash mob", where a group of individuals use email, texting, social networks, cell phones and the like to create collective action. Often it's things like political protests or stunts. However, this same model of the flash mob can be applied to our hobby, and allow the benefits of a supportive group of like minded people without the complexity and constraint of formal organizations.
I would like to suggest that we who portray historical folk embrace the model of the "flash mob" and use technology to make our mark on the world.
Flash Packet, which consists of Bill Howard, Walter Nelson, Sheila Murphy-Nelson and Scott Hulett; sings sea songs of the 19th Century
In the business of putting on historical events with appropriate music, one frequently encounters the need to find appropriate sheet music. Further, when one has been doing historical events for many years, one can get a bit tired of the same tunes all the time, and want to dig up something new--which is to say something that everyone hasn't heard yet.
Fortunately, there seems to be a growing collection of sites on the web that can be tapped for historical sheet music. Of course, with copyright laws being what they are, you aren't going to find much past 1925, but if your interests lie in the Victorian or Ragtime eras (and occasionally earlier) there's some good stuff out there free of charge.
Here are the ones I know about. If you know some more, please add them via "comments".
The band is the key to your vintage dance event. Recorded music, no matter how good, will always make your event feel, somehow, incomplete.
If someone wants to get dressed up in a uniform, and march around playing "bang you're dead", it is generally not too difficult to find some kindred spirits to play with.
However, for those who are more interested in the more peaceful aspects of history, it is sometimes a bit harder.
We provided 18th Century Venetian Aristocrats to support a Los Angeles Master Chorale gala fundraiser at the Biltmore in 1992
Historical correctness, simplicity and appropriateness are what make a good costume for a living history interpreter.
In terms of historical correctness, it should, of course, be cut in a manner that is right for the time and place being portrayed. That should go without saying, but I have seen too many hoop skirts in 1880s portrayals and bustles lurking about the Civil War.