Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Origins of Historial Societies ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Origins of Historial Societies
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: artydi-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 10 Feb 2003 05:31 PST
Expires: 12 Mar 2003 05:31 PST
Question ID: 159425
Did Historical Reinactment Societies exist in London, England, around
the 1850s? In other words, would Victorians have dressed up in
historical costumes to recreate an earlier period? If so what kind of
subjects would they cover? Include examples of Historical Societies in
the answer, please.
Subject: Re: Origins of Historial Societies
Answered By: kutsavi-ga on 11 Feb 2003 07:36 PST
Hi there Artydi,

Historical reenactment as a form of interpretation did not begin until
the 1960's.  This is not to say that people didn't dress in period
costume in Victorian London; they most likely did.  In fact doing so
sounds to me to be perfectly suited to the Victorian period, what with
the increased leisure time of the upper classes, but I was unable to
find any information on the web concerning this type of persuit.

There is an interesting article on the origins of living history from
the National Park Service in the US.  Here is the pertinent paragraph
from the article:

"Well before "living history" became fashionable in the mid-1960s, a
few parks undertook limited recreations of historical activities or
processes. In the mid- 1930s a replica of an early Indian camp was
constructed behind the museum in Yosemite National Park. "An old squaw
occupies the camp daily; she demonstrates the weaving of baskets,
preparation of foodstuffs, and sings indian songs. This "live exhibit"
has proved to be of great interest to visitors," a 1936 Service
publication reported. Navajos performed traditional dances for
visitors at Mesa Verde National Park. At the behest of Secretary of
the Interior Harold L. Ickes, Pierce Mill in Rock Creek Park,
Washington, D.C., was restored as an operating gristmill in 1936; the
meal was used in government cafeterias. At a 1940 meeting of
Southwestern National Monuments custodians, Dale S. King encouraged
them to find local Indians who would produce handicrafts and suggested
having a Mormon girl bake tarts at Pipe Spring National Monument when
that site was refurnished."

Addressing living history in general terms, here is a paragraph from
an article titled The Evolution of Living History from The Living
History Museum of the Plymouth Plantation, again from the US:

"Living History was first introduced as a separate concept in the late
1960s, where it evolved in open air museums (especially agricultural
ones) combining the exhibition of material culture with re-enactment
of the historical processes which originally employed or produced
those artifacts, structures and landscapes. This was usually done by
employing costumed interpreters who used either a standard "third
person" presentation in which they talked about "what they did back
then" while performing their activities, or went on to adopt "first
person" role playing. In first person interpretation, interpreters
assume the identities of historical individuals and present the
re-enacted activities as "what we did back then" or, if adopting the
trope that the visitor has stepped back in time, "what we are doing
now in 1620 (or whatever date is represented)."

Interpretive reenactment in Britain seems to have had a somewhat later
start.  The following is from "The Vikings!", the website of the
oldest dark ages reenactment group in Britain:

"Founded in 1971, The Vikings are the oldest and largest Dark Age
re-enactment society in the UK, and probably the world. With over 700
members throughout Britain, and others in Europe and the US, The
Vikings are the premier society presenting re-enactments of the Viking
Age. While the Society concentrates mainly on the 10th Century, some
events are set in the wider period from 790 to 1066, with the
appropriate modifications to dress and equipment used. Our aim is to
provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking period,
with an equal emphasis on the daily life of the period, and on the
more warlike aspects of life in what was a formative period in
European history."

The The Mediaeval Combat Society appears to have had a bit earlier

"Originally formed in 1970, the Mediaeval Combat Society is one of the
oldest Tournament groups appearing in the United Kingdom today. The
object of the Society is to entertain the public and generate interest
in our English history. We create a 14th Century Tournament complete
with all it's pomp and pageantry with Knights testing each others
skill in the art of combat."

I hope this answers your question.  If you need more info, don't
hesitate to use the "Request Clarification" button.



origins living history

origins "historic reenactment"

popularity living history

historical reenactment britain

evolution "historical reenactment" britain

recreating historical periods

victorian pastimes

victorian hobbies

victorian customs

national association recreation societies
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy