Tuesday, September 24

Let's Talk about Research

I'm a firm believer in research… and in theory ALL historical interpreters/re-enactors should be. It's the MOST important tool we have in our arsenal for showing the public what life was like in the past. Because, at the end of the day we're supposed to be displaying and depicting correct history, or at least as correct as we can make it… right? It is OUR job as historical interpreters/re-enactors to be as historically accurate as we can for the public.

I was not always this way. When I first got into reenacting as a hobby, I was guilty of what alot of reenactors do when they get started… I copied what I saw other reenactors doing & wearing. It's easy to fall into committing what are commonly referred to as 'reenactorisms', because when you see 'everyone' doing something, it's very natural to assume that it must be right, or at least have SOME basis in historical fact.

Then, with the help of some awesome people along the way, and a TON of reading on my own… I eventually got started in a more 'research based' direction.

Want to see some of the research that has gone into my impression? Check out these albums on Facebook:

To that end, everything you wear and carry should be researched. When it comes to primary source documentation, what you're looking for is: WRITTEN DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PERIOD, FASHION PLATES, PORTRAITS, and ORIGINAL GARMENTS.

One of the great things about doing an impression like an officer in the Royal Navy, is that there is a wealth of all of those types of documentation that are fairly easy to find.

If you'd like to see some of the work that went into my particular uniform, be sure to check that project out HERE.

The beauty of our hobby (and History in general) is that you can never know everything! Even if you read and research all the time, you'll never learn all there is to know.

So my mandate to you is this, 'always be working'.

"How" you ask? Whether that means working on your first person impression, working on improving your clothing, working on your knowledge of the period or working to bring ideas to the table for  events you attend regularly… don't get lazy or comfortable, don't plateau in your interpretation. I want to encourage you to always be working and researching, because there is always room for improvement!


  1. It's absolutely true, no living history impression can be 100% accurate and thus no impression is ever complete. It seems to be that there are three types of people or whole units in the reenacting hobby at large: those who create impressions and then let them go to seed (what we would call farbs); those who have great impressions but then either stop improving them, start building lots of other semi-related costumes or periods, or let everything deteriorate altogether; and, lastly, people and groups who continue to work on and evolve their chosen period and unit. The latter group reflects the fact that history is not an unchanging field of knowledge: research continually reveals new things about the past.

    1. Yeah, that's what I love about this as a hobby... there are always new things to be discovered! Thanks so the input! :)

  2. Huz-ZAH! Excellent post.

    Everyone connected with the Acastas looks like they're having a wonderful time. It's great to see reenacting/living history done well and so obviously enjoyed by the participants.

    Honestly, it's not so much a hobby as it is a calling.