Georgian January: a Visit to Colonial Williamsburg

(Note from the Author: Sorry for the post being out late today, we had some internet issues today. . . Anyways, I hope you still enjoy!)

As I watched the Inauguration last week, I like many others oohed and aahed over Dr. Biden and Vice President Harris's outfits (as well as those of the former first ladies). It made me think of the importance of clothing. Clothing can say a lot about a person, it can also impact how they are viewed by others. Lots of people discussed the choices of the clothing and the messages of unity it sent to the country. Dr. Biden's dress for the evening program was embroidered with the state flowers of each of the 50 states.

Some of you may be wondering why the title of this blog post is called Georgian January. This comes from a challenge put out every January in the historical garb community by Dames ala Mode. The challenge includes a theme for each day, usually relating to the 18th century in some way. This challenge also gives the living history community a chance to share what they love most about the 18th century, from clothing to portraiture to different aspects of life during the time.


But, how does this relate to Telling Their Stories? Well, anyone who knows me knows that when I am not playing music with family and friends or researching different historical topics (and when COVID-19 Quarantine isn't going on) I can often be found dressed in historical garb doing living history (often at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine). There was one point when I was at the Fort working as a living history interpreter, and if I had a moment in between groups I would pull out my American History textbook and study. It was fun to be dressed as a citizen during the War of 1812, sitting on the grounds of Fort McHenry while studying the battle in my modern textbook :-).

Last fall my husband gave me the opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg (which is one of my favorite places :). Knowing that I love history, my husband suggested that I should make some historical garb for myself to wear to the park. So, I got up the courage and made some clothes (which was an adventure, because I had done some simple sewing before but had not made a full outfit before). I made a chemise, a short gown, a couple of petticoats, and an apron.


I had been to Colonial Williamsburg a couple times before, but I had never gone in full kit. This time was a little bit different. A lot of the interpreters even complimented me on my outfit, this included Mr. Jefferson and Stacy (an interpreter who did a getting dressed video which helped inspire me to make clothes). Mr. Jefferson along with many others complimented my blue shoes that shod my feet.


Besides that, it felt different because I felt so at home. It is interesting how much clothes can impact a person's perspective. While I had my modern phone along with me, I felt that I was living in a different time period. I felt like I fit in to my surroundings, evidently I did I good job because some people asked me about different locations in the park.


I have always had a passion for history and visiting historical locations. That is often deepened when I get the chance to visit or work (volunteer) at different locations in garb of the time. It brings history alive in a way that just studying it cannot. Often overlooked in the teaching of history are the other senses, the ability to learn in a tactile way and through the textiles of the time grounds history from the abstract dates and names into a reality of people and experiences.


p.s. I hope you enjoy the videos linked below! ;-)


*The Attentive Nurse - Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Resources:

Dr Biden's Inaugural Attire

From Colonial Williamsburg: How much Clothing Did an 18th Century Woman Really Own?

Short Gowns the Revolutionary T-Tunic


Videos:

From Colonial Williamsburg: Exploring Our World Clothing Part 1, Exploring Our World Clothing Part 2, Men's 1770s Dress, A Visit to the Tailor Shop, and Exploring Our World: Dressing for the Season

From Colonial Michilimackinac: Women's Clothing, Soldier's Clothing

Crow Eye Productions: Working Woman 18th Century - Summer Clothing and pretty much any other video ;-)!