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Ozark Iron John
10-02-2006, 11:04 AM
I'd like to open up this thread in an attempt to solicit some advice from ya'll on how best to get into character with regards things one might and might not say when performing a Living History impression or doing American Civil War Re-enacting.

The folks we're trying to recreate with our living history impressions thought about things a lot differently than we do today and they weren't hampered by so many restrictions upon what they may and/or may not say.

We've got to be Politically Correct. If we ain't Politically Correct, we can end up in a whole bunch of trouble, real quick. You can't even THINK about saying some of the things people in the 1850's and 1860's would say. If you do, you'll go straight to H-E Double Toothpicks. I guess maybe in some ways we're more free to think or say some things but for others, well.......

No I ain't suggesting that anybody run into a crowd and shout "Fire!", but if'n you're portraying somebody from Georgia in 1861, What are some of the things you might and/or might not say?

RebeccaMI
10-02-2006, 12:36 PM
I've been having some fun reading the slang dictionary on the Camp Chase Gazette website. There's even a section at the back of words that folks would have used, just not in polite company if you know what I mean.

http://campchase.com/Slang/Slang-A-F.htm

You can read it on the website or download it in Word format. (I wish it were PDF and not Word, but I'm not in charge...)

NoahBriggs
10-02-2006, 07:35 PM
How about reading up on period politics? It's time to show the public how dynamic Americans really were back in the day.

http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4890&highlight=politics

catspjamas
10-02-2006, 11:17 PM
You would think that since we portray history, and that to be accurate we should even talk (using the same wordage) as the people we portray, that we'd be excused from "political correctness" during our portrayal. But nope, a reenactor in Michigan(?) got in trouble because he told a black student he would have been a slave. The guy was taking a census of a class of 3rd graders, giving each student a period occupation. It caused a huge stink and the guy was told to leave. What was he supposed to have said, tell the boy he'd have been a picker of cotton in exchange for a place to live and food to eat, as long as he stayed on the farm?

I try and use correct terminology, but I just can't get the hang of calling a cold "catarrh". And the words "germs" or "bacteria" still creep into my talks about disease.

Cats

Joanna
10-02-2006, 11:53 PM
I read those posts too (which were on the AC and have been lost since the crash) and agreed that "politically correct" is different than being sensitive to the age of the child. The soldier was "signing kids up for the army" and assigning them an occupation that he wrote down on his papers. Other kids were listed as "farmer" or "miller" or "shopkeeper", but this kid was listed as "slave" This kid knew very little about slavery yet; certainly not enough to understand why he was being singled out. A high school student would be a different matter. And if I remember correctly, it was incorrect to list a black person as a slave - slaves who did sign up listed their occupations as "farmer" or "blacksmith" etc. We do censor the message, because it is uncomfortable and gruesome and what we are trying to teach can get lost if we use words that most folks find offensive - they will no longer be paying attention to the message, just the word. There are other correct ways to refer to a black person - "colored" comes to mind - I will leave it to others to say if this would also be offensive or acceptible. I also thought I remembered hearing that southerners did not call slaves "slaves" as much as they called them "servants" - censoring themselves even then?
I would like to hear suggestions of how to address "sticky" topics or words. We had a discussion a while back on another forum about portraying slave-owners and persons living in a slave-based ecomomy. I would love to talk more. Joanna Jones

Ozark Iron John
10-03-2006, 09:20 AM
I reckon my reputation preceeds me. Ya'll don't have to look too far to read what I've written on other boards. I might be more'n a little bit outspoken, but I don't reckon its because I'm a racist. I'm a ninth generation American and not afraid to speak my mind. I most certainly am NOT one of them Hyphenated-Americans and I am not a neo-Abolitionist either.

I think we have got to get more ........ (I don't know what to call 'em!) ...... in the hobby. They built this country! They cleared fields, built roads, cannalized rivers and did just about everything else too. It ain't Living History without 'em.

I don't mean no disrespect. Heck, on the contrary. I mean to honor 'em. Some of my best friends were and are black men. I specifically remember an SFC at Fort Knox and an LTC at Fort Bragg that were both sorta idols of mine back in the day. Heck, if either of them men had wanted to invade He11, I'd be a Lieutenant down there right now.

NoahBriggs
10-03-2006, 09:31 AM
So in other words, you would like to introduce the topic of slavery "back into the living history"?

I am all for it.

The problem is there is no standardized method or safe way to interpret the subject. It's a touchy issue - back then and today. The thing we need to remember to do (especially when doing first person) is to set aside our modern sensibilities. Unfortunately not all the spectators understand or appreciate this. Then there are the yahoos who persist on turning it into a modern social issue to introduce irrelevant agendas.

The topic is covered under the AC Forum link I posted earlier. It's worth a good read on how to handle period- correct politics and social issues in a modern setting.

I recommend reading a book which describes how to do effective first person interpretation, and it covers a lot of different situations, including dealing with sensitive issues like slavery. I forgot the name but as soon as I remember I'll post it here (assuming someone else does not beat me to the punch). It can be found in some National Park bookstores.

Sgt_Pepper
10-03-2006, 09:38 AM
This is going to turn into one of the Urinary Olympics between you and me, ain't it?

No, it isn't.

NoahBriggs
10-03-2006, 10:43 AM
. . . is Past Into Present by Stacy Roth.

Ozark Iron John
10-03-2006, 10:49 AM
. . . is Past Into Present by Stacy Roth.

Again, this is constructive. Thank you.

Linda Trent
10-03-2006, 11:11 AM
I'd like to open up this thread in an attempt to solicit some advice from ya'll on how best to get into character with regards things one might and might not say when performing a Living History impression or doing American Civil War Re-enacting.

Reading period periodicals and books and that sort of thing gives one lots of stuff to talk about. I find that one of the best things to get me into character is reading period magazines of the month and year immediately preceeding the date of the event. There are a lot of these magazines located at The Making of America projects http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moajrnl/browse.journals/ (http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moajrnl/browse.journals/) and Cornell (which appears to be down today :( )


The folks we're trying to recreate with our living history impressions thought about things a lot differently than we do today and they weren't hampered by so many restrictions upon what they may and/or may not say.

True but there are a lot of things that they weren't restricted on back then that I'm grateful for having restrictions on today; particularly those things that hurt either ourselves or others like using real bullets and racism. There are ways to teach the evils of slavery/racism without having to actually cause discomfort to others.

We also need to remember that these attitudes weren't only directed at the African-American population, but also toward White women, Mormons, Catholics, Jews, and of course the Native Americans.


I'm a ninth generation American and not afraid to speak my mind.

Great! And I'm 14th generation, but that makes us better how? There are a lot of great Americans who are first and second generation who I think take just as much pride (if not more) upon their being Americans than many of us who had ancestors either on the Mayflower or the Godspeed. The bottom line is, regardless race, religion, creed, color, political opinions, etc. we are all Americans.

The spectators who attend our events are in many cases the ones who support the event, and in many cases without them there would be no event. At non-spectator events where we have African-American friends participating we are respectful of their requests not to have the "n" word spoken, and most generally they are okay with most of the other words. But we always check just to make sure.

Just my two cents worth,

Linda