View Full Version : Reenacting in a wheelchair?

10-16-2006, 11:39 AM
Good afternoon all!

I'm passing on a question from a nearby young woman who happens to be in a wheelchair, and is just beginning to explore attending events. I've done a search, and can't find anything relevant, though it might have been lost in the last upheaval...

Does anyone have any information as to modifications that needed to be made under such circumstances? (For example, a cage would be awkward, so a corded petti is a better choice for this woman, even if cages were more common by this point.) Primary references to people in similar circumstances would especially be appreciated.

Thanks very much!

10-16-2006, 03:39 PM
You might look under invalid chair and Bath chair. Mrs. Lee used a chair I think.

http://tinyurl.com/yjo4uz wheelchairnet. org

centripetal chair was patented in 1849

10-16-2006, 03:59 PM
I've done a search, and can't find anything relevant, though it might have been lost in the last upheaval...

Probably was. As far as I know, none of the old threads have been restored except as reposts of "Lost Thread". I would also suggest that you search the AC forum. Be sure to search for both "wheelchair" and "Invaldi chair".

I hope that your friend has a strong companion to reenact with as, given some of the terrain around the reenactments, I suspect that she will need that person's help at times.

10-16-2006, 04:15 PM
Here is some more info



11-03-2006, 12:18 PM
Hello. I would suggest reviewing the diary of Sarah Morgan of Baton Rouge, LA. It's still in print and very accessible. She was in a runaway carriage that flipped during the War, and it injured her spine. She could not walk for several months and was bedridden, though she was carried downstairs and placed in a chair as she improved. She notes wearing a wrapper and a quilt to have male visitors in her room, but wore morning dresses when she was brought downstairs to meet company.

I would think a corded petticoat would certainly work the best for a chair, and period wheelchairs are out there in antique stores to purchase.

At the Gettysburg 135th, I had a lady contact me (I was civilian coordinator) who was coming from Arizona with her husband to participate, but she had MS and was wheelchair bound. They had a motor home they were coming in, but logistics were an issue. What we did was:

-Arranged to have a staff member pick her up at in the morning and bring her to our civilian camp daily-someone would take her back to the motorhome at night.
-Her period wheelchair was brought to my tent, and we kept it in there at night.
-I spoke with some of the civilians camping around us, explained her situation, and everyone was happy to make her welcome in their camps.
Over a period of about four days that she was there, we would all take turns having her set in our camp areas, so that she could meet people and visit, and we put her to work helping with cooking and sewing. Ladies volunteered to take her to activities in the activity tent, and several of the young ladies had fun taking her to sutler row to shop.

For the sake of other reenactors and authenticity, a period chair is important, if they are really serious about being a reenactor. Most of the clothing should not be an issue (I know the lady we had, Stella, actually wore a small hoop and was dressed with a corset and the right underpinnings). Other concerns are the layout of the event and the ground (getting a wheelchair around is not always easy in a wooded area), facilities (obviously, handicapped facilities are important), and whether or not they plan to stay in camp.

The important thing is, it is very do-able, and can be a rewarding experience for her and for others. As was mentioned by another writer, Mrs. Lee was wheelchair bound due to arthritis, and she was still active with giving dinners, receiving callers, and leading knitting circles for the troops throughout the War. She was somewhat homebound, but she did not slow down, and she traveled numeroud times to spas for water cures.

Hope this all helps!

Trish Hasenmueller
11-05-2006, 01:45 PM
I recently saw, for sale in Franklin, TN, a wheel chair resembling the one listed on the disability museum link under 1895. It's got a caned back and seat. Contact me at dhecsi@charter.net for more information.

Trish Hasenmueller

11-06-2006, 09:32 AM
I'm not sure of your location, but there is an original 19th century wheel chair in an antique shop here in the Des Moines area for about $300. It's in good shape, functional, and possibly even recaned. I would be more than happy to submit some photos or help you out in anyway possible if you would be interested.