Obviously I love history. I write this blog. I read both fiction and non-fiction books about history. I watch movies and documentaries about history. And if somebody put a time travel device in front of me I’d say, “Let’s go!” But only for a visit. I wouldn’t want to live there because I am way too fond of our modern conveniences.
Lacking a time travel device, there are many people who spend periods of time recreating the past with varying degrees of authenticity. There are living history museums like Colonial Williamsburg. There are groups that reenact events, especially battles. And there are the numerous Renaissance faires and other festivals, such as the Viking Festival I shared with you in this previous post.
All of these can be for educational purposes, just for fun, or both. They all give the general public a more visceral feel for what history was really like. Not just the big events, but what people ate, what kind of clothing they wore and how they spent their time.
But you can choose to take this to a whole new level. There is a couple in Port Townsend, Washington who study the history of the 1880s and 1890s by living as if they actually are in that time. In her essay “I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.” Sarah A. Chrisman talks about how she and her husband live this lifestyle, mostly because they love this way of life, but also as an ongoing research project.
She admits that this type of research, or lifestyle, is not for everyone, and makes clear that they didn’t jump into it all at once. Being interested in the period, they bought a Victorian home built in 1888, and then started making and wearing period clothing. After that, they started bit by bit to gather the tools they needed for Victorian authenticity. They also spend time reading books and periodicals from those years, the perfect primary source materials, rather than material written about those years.
No need to try to picture her in a modern office environment as Chrisman is a freelance writer, even using the pens and ink that a writer from that period would use. She has written several books about living the Victorian life, including one that details what she learned by wearing a corset. She also has a website and writes a blog, This Victorian Life. No, I didn’t see anything to clarify whether she actually has a computer, or writes longhand and has someone else handle the modern technology issues.
The essay and blog both include great photos, which give visual insight into the way they live. It is definitely worth checking out, especially if you are a writer interested in this time period. Chrisman and her husband are also available for history consulting and presentations.
Could I do it? Just try to take my cell phone away from me. Could you live this type of alternative lifestyle? Better yet, if you had a time machine, where and when would you travel?