December 30, 2013

December Sketchbook Challenge

This was my least favorite Sketchbook Challenge to date. Not because it was a bad challenge or I didn't like what I sketched but because the topic, "Holiday Colors" pretty much dictated that the challenge had to be in a pigmented medium.  I wanted to sketch in pencil, so this month, my holiday color is white.


I liked the sketch. I'm in the process of making a customized sketchbook and made this little sketchbook out of the scraps.


Overall I enjoyed drawing in it. I just hope next month's challenge is pencil sketcher friendly. If you are looking to get into or back into drawing, the Sketchbook Challenge has been very fun. People interested can post their photos in their flickr group.  

December 20, 2013

Holiday Butter Cookie Recipe

This recipe is new to me. I was really in the mood to try and make butter cookies. My mom used to make them when I was younger.She used to make them with a press in the shape of camels and stars. They were an adorable Christmas treat. The press died years ago and with it the little cookies.

Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

- 3 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

Instructions:

Cream the butter, sugar, juice, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder.  Form dough into 1 inch thick rolls and refrigerate until still. Slice the dough in 3/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven a 400 degrees for 7 minutes.

If you want sprinkles on top, dip the dough into the sprinkles before placing on baking sheet.If you plan to use a press, subtract 1/2 cup of flour.


I'm pleased with how they turned out for a first time recipe. It's a delicious recipe for winter, especially with hot chocolate.

December 16, 2013

Awesome Civil War Reenactor Homemade Gift Post at The Victorian Needle


So much snow this week! But the holidays are still fast approaching. I've been baking, buying and wrapping like a crazy person.

Are you looking for homemade gifts to make your favorite reenacting buddies? This post at The Victorian Needle is great. The pattern for the traveling bag is fantastic. I have been meaning to make one of those for years.

December 11, 2013

"Began my New Life by Seeing a Man Die at Dawn": Louisa May Alcott's Army Hospital Diary

 Everyone remembers famous writer Louisa May Alcott for her Civil War novel, Little Women. But on December 11th, 1862, Louisa was on her way to become an army nurse.

Many people know that her experiences working in the hospital led her to write Hospital Sketches, a fictional account, but few know that she actually kept a short diary during her 6 weeks there.  



 
Louisa did not intend to leave the hospital when she did but was forced to due to a terrible sickness she contracted while there. The diary excerpt is a raw account of her time there and her experiences similar to many army nurses at the time.  

Journal kept at the Hospital, Georgetown, D. C, 1862.

November. — Thirty years old. Decided to go to Washington as nurse if I could find a place. Help needed, and I love nursing, and must let out my pent-up energy in some new way. Winter is always a hard and a dull time, and if I am away there is one less to feed and warm and worry over.
I want new experiences, and am sure to get 'em if I go. So I've sent in my name, and bide my time writing tales, to leave all snug behind me, and mending up my old clothes, — for nurses don't need nice things, thank Heaven!

December. — On the 11th I received a note from Miss H. M. Stevenson telling me to start for Georgetown next day to fill a place in the Union Hotel Hospital. Mrs. Ropes of Boston was matron, and Miss Kendall of Plymouth was a nurse there, and though a hard place, help was needed. I was ready, and when my commander said "March!" I marched. Packed my trunk, and reported in B. that same evening.
We had all been full of courage till the last moment came; then we all broke down. I realized that I had taken my life in my hand, and might never see them all again. I said, "Shall I stay, Mother?" as I hugged her close. 

"No go and the Lord be with you" answered the Spartan woman; and till I turned the corner she bravely smiled and waved her wet handkerchief on the door step. Shall I ever see that dear old face again?

December 9, 2013

100 Years of Dance: Safe And Sound by Capital Cities.



I only comment on music when there's something very interesting going on. Safe and Sound by Capital Cities is an extremely catchy song but where it really shines is the music video.

At first glance it just looks like a theater production but if you look closely the video follows dance through the ages using  footage from the 20s, 30s and 40s and incorporating modern dancers. It's fantastic. The Charleston, swing dancing, and Bollywood are all in there.

I love it when popular culture adds in historical things. Too many pop songs are very superficial or tend to focus on negative lifestyle choices. This one may be superficial but at least it's uplifting.

There's a neat video about the making of the music video:    


According to the video they hoped to show the history of the historical theater that they filmed in.

December 5, 2013

Walmart Gives Battlefield Land Back!?

That's a crazy headline I never expected to see. After all, they petitioned for the land for so long and bought it, I really didn't think Walmart was afraid of the backlash they would have received if they built a store near a battlefield.

In 2011, Walmart purchased the land  near the Wilderness Civil War battlefield in Virginia. If you've been there, there's little battlefield land left in the area. The city has grown around and through the battlefields there and there is only little battlefield "pockets" of land.  The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

People were afraid that the extra traffic and the loss of land would just increase the buildup in the area and the preserved parts of the battlefields there would suffer. When Walmart bought it, after a long fight with the CWPT, many people were upset that even more land would be gone and were extremely disappointed. The battle was fought on parts of the land that were also fought on during the Battle of Chancellorsville, the previous year. Yankee soldiers came across the skeletons of  other soldiers who died the year before and were buried in shallow graves.  This was also the first battle where Lee and Grant opposed each other.

I saw the battlefields in this area for the first time last year and was sort of confused. The city grew up around the battlefield, which is unavoidable as it was already a city during the 1860s. This was very strange to me as I am from the land of Gettysburg where the battlefield is an isolated, sacred place.

When we got into the area, we started asking around for where the battlefield was and didn't get a definitive answer. Even at the hotel where we asked, the lady at the desk said she didn't know but that she would help us search her map for it. When we finally found a good chunk of the Wilderness on the map and drove out to it, we realized why even locals didn't know where things were or if they even existed: the battlefields in this area are really just little patches of battlefield to be seen in between parking lots and neighborhoods.  

I had known that the Wilderness was an "endangered" battlefield, but i didn't really know what that meant until I saw the four battlefields in this area.

I'm surprised and happy to say that Walmart didn't just put the land up for sale, but donated it to The Virginia Department of Historic Resources.   

I am extremely happy that this has happened. News has been so bleak lately it's nice seeing something positive.

December 3, 2013

Free Civil War Era Scarf Pattern

 It's winter and time to get knitting!

I have been trying to find the provenance of the photo at the left. It is a great illustrative photo as to the type of scarf that this pattern creates. the stitches are tiny and the scarf, much wider than what we are used to. 
 

1859 Scarf Pattern

Size 00 needles, DK weight yarn. 

Border:
Cast on 100 stitches
Row 1: *K2tog x4, yo, k1 x8 , K2tog x4, p1* repeat between the * until end of row.
Row 2: purl all stitches.
Row 3: knit all stitches.
Row 4: purl all stitches.
Repeat Rows 1-4 until the scarf reaches 14 inches.
Final Row: Purl all stitches.

Scarf Main:
Row 1: *yo,sl 1, k1, psso, k1, p1* repeat between the  until end of row.
Repeat row 1 until the scarf is 14 inches shorter than you want it. 

Finishing Border:
Row 1: purl all stitches.
Row 2: knit all stitches.
Row 3: purl all stitches.
Row 4: *K2tog x4, yo, k1 x8 , K2tog x4, p1* repeat between the * until end of row.
Finish scarf with fringe or netting. 



25 stitch practice swatch.

November 28, 2013

Don't Shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday

There's a joke going around that "only Americans would trample on top of each other to buy new stuff the day after they give thanks for the things that they already have." Unfortunately I agree with it.

 The holidays are increasingly not about spending time with your family but about shopping, materialism and presents. We are more focused on giving our friends and family members the tangible, material goods that they desire but we don't give them our time, which is infinitely more valuable and wanted.

Shopping on Thanksgiving and "Black Friday" further put an emphasis on things instead of family. It doesn't matter how much money you save on something. It is not worth missing a day that could be spent with your family or perpetuating a culture of materialism. 

I understand that for some people, shopping on Black Friday and recounting their experiences is a family tradition. There are better traditions to be had. You could shop for presents as a family on a day where people won't be disregarding human life to save a few dollars.

Stores now stay open on Thanksgiving and other holidays to meet the demand of people wanting to do last minute shopping. It might be convenient but many people do not get to spend the holidays with their families because they have to work. In the past, people planned ahead and made sure all shopping was done ahead of time because they knew no stores would be open.

If you are with your family this holiday be thankful for being able to be. Keep in mind that many people can't be.   

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are with your families, enjoying freshly baked Turkey and enjoying each others company.

If you would like to read about Thanksgiving in the past:

-The First Thanksgiving Celebration

-Thanksgiving Letter from an African American Civil War Soldier

November 19, 2013

10 Fun History Podcasts to Listen to this Winter

wikigallery.org
 The holidays are coming up which means I'm going to be spending more time than usual cleaning the house. I don't mind cleaning as I always accompany cleaning with an audio book or podcast.

The podcasts below are fun or informative or both. I love podcasts because they are a relaxing way to learn more about things you have heard of but might not know about or understand them in a way that you would like. 









-Stuff You Missed in History Class: This podcast is fun and a good way to fill in some gaps in your history knowledge. Most of the topics are familiar but are a nice refresher.  

-In Our Time: This podcast is by BBC and is broken down into the categories of history, culture and philosophy. The next episode of this podcast will be about the life of Pocahontas. 

-Past & Present: This is Colonial Williamsburg's podcast and focuses on the Colonial period. 

- Backstory Radio: This podcast focuses on current events placed in their historical context.

-Journal of American History Podcast: Interviews with the authors in the publication.

-History According to Bob: History according to a history teacher of 29 years.

-European Civilization from the Renaissance to the Present: A course from Berkley, You can also follow along with the readings. Not so much a podcast but still an interesting set of lectures.

-The China history Podcast: 5,000 years of Chinese culture.

-Military History Podcast: "Bringing you the strangest anecdotes, innovative technology, and most significant events of Military History." 

-The Egyptian History Podcast: Only published once a month, this podcast focuses on ancient Egypt.

Are there any good ones I missed? I know I'm missing a few popular ones. What podcasts do you listen to?

November 13, 2013

November Sketchbook Challenge

For the November Sketchbook Challenge, I decided to do a little night camping watercolor sketch. The theme this month is "Moon and Stars." I love how the canvass tents light up orange at night when the inhabitants have candles lit inside.


I might try to make another sketch for this theme. Hopefully, I can take a bit longer next time. I've only had time for tiny sketches recently, but it's a start!

November 11, 2013

Myths in History: Why Do Myths Prevail?

Last week, I wrote a post entitled "Legends Never Die," which discussed the various lies or myths that I hear on a regular basis at the Colonial era site I work at. If you didn't read that one head on over to that post.






As someone who spends most of her time researching and reading the latest research in my field, I thought that visitors would be happy to be receiving the most up-to-date research. I was very wrong.

I've spent a lot of time wondering why history myths prevail. There are many myths in history that captivate the minds of many and they are terribly hard to kill. We typically learn these myths as children: "George Washington had wooden teeth."

 In music, they call a song that prevails, regardless of it's quality, an "earworm." Some common earworms include the I Dream of Jeanie theme song or anything by pop sensation, Ke$ha. Likewise history's "yesteryear worms" are wriggly, little buggers that stick in minds and are  a terrible thing to try and get rid of.

Reasons Myths Prevail:

- Habit: Some of these things are told just as a force of habit and we all know how hard it is to change habits. Also many of these myths are passed around from person to person.

- Good Stories: Myths typically make interesting stories or answer the pesky question "why" when it would otherwise go unanswered. People love a good story and myths give it to them.

- Confirmation: People like to hear reaffirmation for their beliefs about a time period and many myths cater to this. People like to hear just how horrible it was in the past because it fits with their view of the past. There are many myths that center around poor living conditions in the past.

- Superiority: Some myths make the teller feel more intelligent. Many myths make the teller feel intelligent because they know something clever that their peers don't know. Likewise, people also like to hear about how "backwards" people were in the past.

As history lovers, it's our job to dispel these false impressions of the past.  When confronted with a person asking about or telling a myth, the best course of action is typically to correct them in a polite manner such as "Some people theorize that this is true, but here is a reason it is probably not true," or " Historians believed that previously but new research has suggested that 'X' is not the case."

What myths have you been hearing lately in history?

November 4, 2013

Legends Never Die: Myths in History

I told a lie at work.  A big, big lie and I am ashamed.

Revolutionary War Reenactor

A few weeks ago I was at work when I had a group of school students who had been on a lot of field trips to historical sites. The students were very knowledgeable and the teachers had been coming to our site for a long time.

I was giving a shortened version of the tour I had learned when I first started working there. Our house tour had been removed from the programs for some updating but this group was getting a shortened tour with the questionable material removed. I finished up the first room of the tour of the house, the young, pretty blonde teacher looked at me with excitement in her eyes and raised her hand.

 "Aren't you going to show them the bed?" she asked, "You know, sleep tight?"

There it was. It was one of those lies I found out I had been telling. It was told to me when I first started working and it was something I had heard and still hear at multiple historical sites.  You know the lie: The phrase "Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite" came from the colonial period where bedbugs were prevalent and people slept on beds held together with ropes.

Caught in an awkward place, between admitting the previous tours she had experienced at the farm had been very outdated and telling 25 children a lie, I really wanted to tell the lie. So I did, with the cop out of "some people think" said so extremely fast that I doubt anyone could discern it from the rest of the sentence.

I feel bad but it could have been worse. What is one lie?

I  went to lunch in the kitchen and drank out of a glass bottomed pewter tankard (designed to prevent conniving navy recruiters from slipping me the king's shilling and insist I joined up) and I toasted my bread over the fire in my toaster, (so called because the apparatus is designed to be stirred with your toe once one side is done cooking) while making sure I didn't get too close to the fire because the leading cause of death for women in colonial times was catching on fire or dying from burns.

I told about how ingenious colonialists were: Did you know the fashionable tri-cornered hats  were regular hats but the soldiers folded the sides up to prevent them from knocking them off their heads with their rifles? And that tavern pipes were made with long handles so that after each use men could break off the tip, preventing the spread of bacteria?

But then again, the colonists were also so backwards they thought tomatoes were poisonous, water would kill them, and they put wax makeup on their faces so thick they had to use screens to protect their makeup from melting. Additionally, people were shorter back then which is why their beds and doorways are so small.

They were also frugal which is why they had men pose with one hand in their coats when posing for portraits because hands are difficult to paint so artists charged more to paint them and people didn't build closets into their house to avoid the closet tax which stated that closets were considered rooms and would be taxed accordingly.     

And I'd only be lying if I said that visitors didn't say these things and enthusiastically encourage me to say these things on my tours.  

October 31, 2013

Witch Jugs and Witch Bottles

Child Levitation
 Witch bottle, or witch jugs are a curious archeological find today. Bottles filled with liquid, rusty nails, hair, pins, and nail clippings have puzzled people who have come across them in home renovations for years.These bottles are typically found buried under front doorsteps or under hearths and seem to have been most popular during the 1600s.

As written evidence suggests, witch bottles were thought to protect the makers from the evil preying of witches or evil kill the witch. In the 1600s writer and orators turned to the supernatural world to explain and confirm events that were happening at the time when paranoia, fear and witchcraft plagued the minds of many. The book Saducismus Triumphatus, published in 1681, details how a witch bottle was to be made and used an example of how a man made one to help treat his suffering wife.  

In the book, the man was instructed to fill a bottle with his wife's urine and some pins and needles then cook it over a fire. When he did so, the cork popped out of the bottle and the contents flew out and his wife remained sick. As that was unsuccessful, the man was instructed to make a new bottle and bury it. But this time, his wife got better and later, he reported a woman he did not know came to his house and claimed that the man had killed her husband. Stories like these perpetuated the existence and malicious works attributed to witches and demons.  

While witch bottles have been found throughout the UK, only eight possible witch bottles have been found in the US. One was found during archeological excavations on Great Tinicum Island, here in Delaware County. For more information on this witch bottle visit: An American Witch Bottle

Water, eh?
Other items used to ward off witchcraft that are found in houses are worn out children's shoes which were commonly built into chimneys and the remains of dead cats. "Concealed shoes" are found commonly in both the U.S. and the U.K. There is even a museum collection of them at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery in England. The shoes were thought to trap witches attempting to enter through the chimneys and it was thought that the dead cats would be a bad omen to any evil or witches trying to enter a residence.

As with witch bottles, these items typically leave homeowners scratching their heads and are an uneasy reminder of how real witch craft and superstition were to some people in a time where suffering was rife and explanations scarce.   

Happy Halloween everyone! If you'd like to read a bit more, check out How to Identify a Witch According to Cotton Mather.

October 30, 2013

October Sketchbook Challenge

As per my original intentions, I promised I would share things from my sketchbook in order to make me use my sketchbook for drawing more rather than just writing in it.

This is my drawing for October's Sketchbook Challenge. The theme this month was "animal companions."



It isn't anything fancy but it is a sketch. I've been so busy this month. I'm still trying to get back in the habit of sketching things just for the fun of it. 

October 22, 2013

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe

Colonial Recipes
This weekend I finally got to use the cider press at work. It has been out of commission for a while and I hadn't seen it in action.

I love pretty much everything about fall. I love all of the fun activities that come with fall. But after making cider, I'm starting to believe it might just be the quintessential fall activity. Or at least should be included among the classics, such as watching the leaves change colors and enjoying bonfires at night.

Making cider sounds difficult but is actually surprisingly easy and the smell is amazing. With a cider press, all you have to do is grind up the apples then press them and you're done. At home you can do it the same way or you can cook the apples first to make them easier to press.  

Colonial Recipes
Colonial Recipes
Colonial Recipes
Revolutionary War Reenactor
Revolutionary War Reenactor

Homemade Apple Cider

Ingredients:

- 10-15 Apples of mixed sorts
- 3 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole Cloves
- 1 Nutmeg, whole
- 1 Orange
-  1/2- 3/4 Cups of Brown Sugar
- Water

Instructions:

Wash your apples and orange then core and cut them into quarters. If you are not planning on using the pulp for anything, you do not have to worry about removing the core or seeds. Put your apple chunks into a large pot and add enough water to cover the apples. Wrap your Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg in cheese cloth and add to the pot. Add the sugar to taste. Bring the contents to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for an hour or more, covered.

Let the pulp cool. Once cool strain it through a doubled piece of cheesecloth over a bowl. Squeeze the pulp to make sure you get out all of the juice. If you want you can strain the juice a second time.    

The pulp does not look appetizing but can be used in apple bread or apple muffins. You can also make pectin for jelly from it.


October 18, 2013

Any Day I Get to Touch a Llama is a Good Day; or, Cherry Crest Farm's Amazing Maize Maze

“A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop. ” -Robert Hughes
  
Last month Andy and I took a trip that I didn't get to post about. I had been begging to go to a corn maze every fall since we met. It's been awhile but we finally made it and had a blast. We went to Cherry Crest Farm in Lancaster, PA. There was a llama, the cutest little goats that were playing with kids and newly hatched chicks. 
We went on Talk Like a Pirate Day and the theme of the maze was "set sail." So the maze was shaped like a ship, the riddles we had to answer were ship related and nautical themed music played while we meandered. If you get a chance to visit a corn maze this year, they are fantastic! 






Mazes are about choices. I have always been bad at making choices. I have a huge problem when I go on trips. I can never decide what camera I want to bring. My nice camera is great for certain things, however it's bulky and I have to decide what lenses I want to carry and what extras I want to bring. It used to take about 20 minutes in the morning before a trip just to decide what to bring and I never ended up being happy.

The camera was such a pain sometimes that I bought a smaller camera for  trips when I just wanted to take snapshots and not anything special.  That would solve my lens problem. For fun trips, I'd just bring my new, little compact. Nope, it ended up just being another choice.

You may be wondering what the quote at the beginning of this post has to do with anything. I find that the more I bring the less I use just because it's too much of a pain. I likewise get nothing  done if I have too many choices, but find I can get very creative if I am limited.


I freeze up when the world is at my command, but give me a small pebble and I can make it a world. I work best and most creatively when I put limitations on myself. A good trick to try if you are ever having creative or productivity problems is to limit yourself to a few things. Don't try to paint a painting using everything you have, try painting on a selected piece of paper and only one brush and see what you can make of it. It might expand to more things or morph into something else or you might make something brilliant with something very simple.


When I'm having camera issues, the best thing for me to do is pick one thing and make the most of it. Which sometimes means just taking photos with my phone. A lot of times it's good enough. I am constantly striving to do more with less in every area of my life.

Has anyone gone to a corn maze this fall or done something else fun?
     

October 16, 2013

How to Make Faux Leather Book Covers

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I'm trying to get along artistically using up my stash and not buying anything new if I can help it. Just like most artistically inclined people my stash can get overwhelming as we keep acquiring materials with a lot of potential but never get to as many projects as we wish we could. It's my goal to use up my stash.

This was a project I did with other people so not all of the photos are of the same book but they should do good enough for illustrative purposes.  The original instructions can be found here: Creepy Books.








We were making books for Halloween so I chose to make a new cover for the first Harry Potter book and a second smaller book, intending to serve as "Tom Riddle's Diary," which I plan to make into a sketchbook. I decided to make a dust cover instead of working directly on the cover.

Supplies:

-Cardboard or bristol board. 
-Paint: I used a cheap glossy acrylic.
-Paper Towels or Tissue Paper. I used paper towels with a lot of texture to give it a snakeskin look.
-Craft Glue that dries clear.
-Water

1. Open your book, making sure there are an even number of pages on each side to ensure the spine lays flat. Trace around your book leaving a 1/4 inch border around it at the top and bottom and 2-3 inches extra on the sides to make the flaps.  


2. Cut out cardboard shapes and  glue them to your cover. I used a tacky glue designed for use on t-shirts so the glue/water mixture in the next step wouldn't dissolve it.

3. Mix your glue with an equal amount of water. Tear up your paper towel into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Make sure you overlap your pieces and paint over them with the glue mixture.


4. Place a piece of paper towel on your cover and use a large paintbrush to brush your glue mixture over the paper towel piece. Overlap paper towel pieces and work until the cover is filled, making sure to leave 1/2 inch around the outside to overlap to the inside of the cover. If you want wrinkles in you book make sure to scrunch the paper towel pieces a little. Dry with a hairdryer or leave to dry overnight.


5. Turn your cover over and use the glue/water mixture to wrap the extra paper towel over the top and secure it to the inside. Let dry again.


6. Apply your paint. The original instructions stated to paint while the paper towel was still wet. I had much better luck letting it dry and applying a glossy paint to mimic a leather shine. Let your paint dry. If you want to include gold or silver elements, spray paint can be sprayed on plastic plate and applied with a cotton swab.


7. When dry, you can use something pointy to trace gently around your cutouts to make them stand out more against the background. 


I'll do a separate post when I finish the Harry Potter book. This is an incredibly easy project and looks great. This also might have reenacting uses an alternative to the covers I normally use while reenacting.
 

October 14, 2013

Museum People Make the Worst Museum Visitors

I always loved being a museum professional. There's something special about being so close to the past every day. You touch it. You preserve it. You teach about it. I loved being a museum professional, until read an article entitled "Museum Professionals Make Terrible Visitors."

I had observed this phenomenon but didn't attribute it to solely being a "museum person." But it is true,  museum people really do make the worst museum visitors. If you are a museum person, that article will make you laugh.  

I found myself committing many
museum sins mentioned in the article. I definitely did very little real shopping in gift shops and sometimes find myself in awkward angles that visitors are never meant to be in to get the best possible view of an artifact that I want to see. (Sorry, Franklin Institute, but I couldn't sleep for a month prior to your exhibit knowing I would get to see King Tut's liver casket. I wasn't about to not get to see the details up close.) 

I'm glad that someone pointed out the behavior of museum people. You can't fix a problem you don't know
exists, right?




Worst Offenses of Museum People in My Experience:


-Not being open to learning new information. Many museum people don't go to museums to learn something new. They are more interested in seeing how someone else is interpreting history. They feel that they already know a lot about the subject and end up being more interested in the displays, pamphlets, artifact handling, etc.

-Correcting guides or unfairly expecting them to speak on something they are not prepared to speak about. Sometimes I think self proclaimed history buffs feel the need to defend their title when they visit a museum. They try to point out wrong facts and try to contradict the guides and displays every way possible. If you are a museum professional, you know that this behavior is not only unprofessional but these people typically reference old research and popular history sources. 

Professionals understand the interpretive nature of history and aren't so quick to judge research based on what they see in a museum and understand that not every person is prepared to speak upon every subject. Although, occasionally professionals expect everyone to know about some obscure research so-and-so is doing. Some of these people will also "hijack" tours from guides.         

-Not buying from the shop. This one is mentioned in the article and I am guilty. Many museum people go into gift shops, see a book they are interested in and go home and buy it on amazon. I am guilty of this only because I typically wait a few months before buying a book to make sure I am still interested. I have started viewing this differently. When you buy from the shop and it is more expensive than what you'd pay online, we should think of the extra cost as a donation to the site. Maybe we need to set up some museum people code where if we see a few books we like in their gift shop and plan to buy them online later, we will all add an extra few dollars to the donation bin.

-Not staying where you should be or touching things you shouldn't. Working at a museum is hard, you have to watch a lot of things at the same time. We have people at our sites sneak upstairs without a guide. I have heard every excuse, but most frequently things like "I used to work here" or "I've been here a million times." I assume the best of people but if something breaks on one of my tours or goes missing, it's my responsibility and ultimately we need to remember this when we are at other sites. 


I have encountered bad museum manners numerous  times but I think the worst offense I ever encountered was when I was giving a tour and speaking on the education habits of the Quakers in the area in the 1700s. A man flat out in the middle of my tour stated "That's not how they did it in Philadelphia, "Do you have research on this?" and other remarks.

First, I thought it was rude that he spoke without asking permission first. But secondly he said this with such a condescending tone and with such accusation that it was frankly embarrassing for me in front of the other guests. I felt like the research question was silly--we're a museum--they didn't just tell me to make things up. And while some guides may carry their research with them on tours, I certainly don't.

If this man was truly interested in the research I had on this topic, he could have asked me privately at the end of the tour and I would have happily forwarded it to him. If this man was just trying to show off and make the guide uncomfortable, he succeeded.


I find that reenactors and other museum people can be the worst offenders of "correcting guides" even though we know it is unfair. What is truly remarkable is that with all of the bad mannered things visitors do at our site, this is one of the most insulting. I can handle visitors not listening and accidentally using our model privy. I am only slightly irked when someone strays from a tour and I have to make everyone wait while I track them down. But correcting the guide publicly is just rude, makes you look like a jerk, and makes the rest of the guests frustrated.  I was lucky in that the other guests made it apparent that his interruptions were uncalled for.





 
What is the worst museum offense you've ever seen committed or committed yourself? Was the offense committed by a museum person? 

**All photos taken on the Becuna and the Olympia at Penn's Landing.  


 

October 9, 2013

A Second Summer, A Beautiful Fall

We are having a beautiful fall. The leaves are beautiful and the weather, warm.I've been doing a lot of things and have visited a lot of places. One of the downsides to being a blogger is that you sometimes feel the need to record instead of just enjoy. I believe this week cured me of that.

I had 4 posts planned out and was upset that I was away so much that I didn't get a chance to write. I had a ton of fun and took 400 photos over the week.  I couldn't believe how effortlessly these posts were going to write themselves. I did all of the fun things you're supposed to do in fall.

I admired the changing leaves. Ran through a corn maze. Observed the migratory birds in their flight. Collected the fall harvest. Roasted marshmallows on breezy night. Went camping, sailing and hiking.   

I couldn't wait to get home and write those posts.

My computer took hours uploading my files off of my camera card. It was so slow I couldn't really do much while they were uploading, including write. The next day I try to open my files, but every time I opened one, my computer would freeze. After one more day of trying, I decided I was just going to upload them, sight unseen based upon the thumbnails.

I try to upload to the internet, and it doesn't work. It doesn't work a second time. I have to upload each image individually. So here is my photo post, in no particular order. And next time I think posting will be very easy, I know better.

A cloud pretending to be a sail.