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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

History Lessons They Don't Forget

When our youngest was in high school (homeschool) we decided to combine a couple of her classes like American History and Home Economics.  If you're wondering what those two have in common I have to tell you not much, that is until we got involved at an area historical museum site, The John Sevier Farm Home.  (farm home of Tennessee's first governor)  At the time the site had monthly guild meetings where we learned of its history, and among other things, how to make our own clothing (including shoes), what food was appropriate to the 18th century, and accessories we would need to be involved in presenting history correctly at events held there.
Our Guild leader preparing to teach soapmaking.

A couple of our friends ready to teach history lessons to public school children.
Our daughter learned to sew (home economics) by making her own 18th century era clothing.  Here she is wearing a shortgown, chemise and two petticoats (that's 18th century lingo for jacket, blouse/slip and skirts.)
Our youngest with a musket - yes, she learned to shoot a musket, too.
 After she had learned "the ropes" our daughter was asked to string up a literal rope and demonstrate how women and girls did their laundry during this time period. Here she is talking to a group of public school children who had no idea clothes could be washed without a washing machine.
Demonstrating how laundry was washed in the 18th century.  

Here's a picture of  my "frontier family" and myself.   We were in Oliver Springs for their Memorial Day festivities in the picture below. The photo was taken while we visited with friends in their Cherokee lean-to. That day my husband fired his musket, I cooked beans and rice, hoe cakes and mint tea for lunch over an open fire.  Our daughter paraded around in her 18th century finery fanning herself with the turkey feather fan you can see in her hand.  Some folks get the easy jobs....I just wasn't one of them that day.

All the clothing in the photos, including my husband's were made by our daughter or myself.  So, that's how we combined early American History and the sewing lessons for her Home Economics class.  If you're interested in history and would like to be part of it's retelling at a local historic site just call them up and find out how you and your children can become involved.  It's great fun, and you might even get paid for doing demonstrations during school tours, as we did. ;)
Edited to add:  This was not all of the history learned that year or all of the sewing, cooking, etc. learned by our daughter, but it sure was a lot of fun for her, and fun in learning goes miles and miles toward attitude and retention of details such as dates, who did what, etc.


  1. Wow that looks like so much fun. I am so obessed with the 1800's erra!!! How neat! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Oh, how super fun! You all look great!!! We'd love to get into Civil War reenacting someday. Thanks for sending me this link!

  3. What a neat project! My daughter would love something like this as she loves period clothing and is learning to sew. I am sure these are memories you will always treasure and skills you may end up using one day... Shoes are getting expensive ;)

    It was also nice to put a face to you! You are darling :)

    P.S. I will be sharing a story soon of how our historical tour was when we visited a local site... Let's just say it was interesting ;)

  4. Thank you, JES. We had a lot of fun and the memories are wonderful. I can't wait to hear your tour story. :)

  5. Wonderful! We are huge history buffs! We used to involved in the Society for Creative Anachronisms. This looks like tons of fun too! Question, though, did your very talented daughter sew all your perfect period clothing by hand?

    1. Judy, the rule at the site where we worked was that any seam that showed must be hand sewn. She also made her own stays, wore them several times and then sold them for a pretty penny, but her specialty was actually embroidery. When one of the other history interpreters realized this she was commissioned to embroider an 18th century reproduction "pocket" with Scottish thistles for which she was paid $200....not bad for a little high school-er.

    2. Thanx for responding. So interesting!

  6. Oh Toni, this looks like so much fun! And I have an idea the children and adults will remember it for many years :) Is that you and your husband at the end of the post? If so than may I say that you are simply lovely, my friend :)

    Thanks for sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Hugs to you

  7. Looks like a lot of fun to do this, we like to go to this kind of stuff ourselves


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