Welcome to the fascinating world of modern-day time travel!
According to definitions.net, living history, also known as re-enactment, is the act of incorporating historic tools, activities, and dress into an interactive experience that gives observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. In this case, the battle waging is part of Redcoats and Rebels, the largest military re-enactment in New England with nearly 1,000 soldiers portraying British, Irish, Spanish, Scottish, French, and Colonial troops. The event takes place each summer at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
|Redcoats & Rebels - Photo by Chris Pratt|
Jennifer and the other historic re-enactors I’ve since come to know are deeply passionate. This is dedicated, hard work. Years of study and preparation, countless hours of practice, hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to become someone they admire or wish to embody from the past.
|Jennifer with fellow re-enactor Robert Lecce - Photo by Chris Pratt|
A “Seeing the fire, smelling the food, learning about the labor required to live in the past—perhaps even to survive a Revolutionary War battle—it’s an enchantment to the senses. Reading about history is great. It’s required for this endeavor. But seeing it, feeling it, experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells first-hand… There is no equal. What re-enactment does is add another layer to learning, a flesh and blood element. Clothing, tools, and language all make for a rich sensory experience. It’s visual, tactile, and exciting for all ages.
“Not every re-enactor is in First-Person,” she explains further. “Some are in Third-Person - dressed accurately but being themselves. Some are in Second-Person - dressed accurately and playing a character while knowing you are from another time.”
Q “So, you’ve told me why you do this for others – to teach. Why do you do it for you?”
A Long pause. “For a few fleeting moments I’m a time-traveler. There is no better thing for a historical writer and performer. It’s another era, a world gone forever. Yes, there is the risk of romanticizing the past, but most re-enactors strive for realism. The past is more than most imagine. There’s much to learn there.”
|Naomi with the surgeon, fellow re-enactor Dan Newman|
Photo by Chris Pratt
A “Rich ladies with fine dresses and pretty hair were fun to play, but after a decade that got boring for me. I wanted to portray a “work-a-day” woman. To me, that’s where the real stories are. Naomi is a survivor; a London girl and fiercely loyal to King George III. Yet the love of her life was lost in this war. She churns butter, cooks over an open flame, washes clothing in a tub, and assists the surgeon in caring for the men, even during amputations. Her story is important to understand.”
Q “So, Naomi is based on a real person?”
A “She’s a composite character, meaning I’ve incorporated stories from many factual individuals into one. That way more of their stories can be told. I use primary sources, actual letters and journals from the time period, plus secondary sources, and modern history books.
“Naomi is also evolving. The surgeon taught her to read, and she’s learning 18th century herbal medicine. I’ll keep you posted on where she’s headed next.”
Hellfire and Handbaskets - if you’d like to meet Miss Adams. My books are stand-alone. No need to read in order.
Follow my author’s Facebook page for more to come about these “modern day time travelers” and the historic locations we frequent. To learn more about me and my books, visit my web site.
Sources & Links
Jennifer Emerson • Petticoat Pages
Old Sturbridge Village • Redcoats & Rebels
YouTube Video of Redcoats & Rebels
Photographer Chris Pratt on flickr • Videographer Chris Pratt on vimeo
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