March 16, 2019

The Citizen's Forum: 2018 Conference

The 2019 Citizen's Forum - an annual, weekend conference focusing on Civil War Era topics for reenactors and living history enthusiasts - is a week from today, and the excitement here is sky high!  I had such a memorable experience last year with all of the inspiring seminars, workshops, shopping and socializing opportunities, I just can't wait for all that's in store next weekend.

In eager anticipation, I thought I'd spend some time reminiscing on the highlights from the 2018 Citizen's Forum.  No post on the subject would be complete without Kristen's official recap, here: The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s 2018, and her most recent Conference Preparations for 2019.

This way to the Citizen's Forum!
Visit the official website: The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s
& Facebook page, also The Citizen's Forum of the 1860s

And now for my recap - the 2018 Citizen's Forum took place on March 23rd through the 25th in Monroe, Michigan.



Friday, March 23rd

Immediately after class, I traveled up to meet Amber, a new friend and roommate for the weekend, and quickly dressed for the evening festivities.  When we arrived at the Sawyer House, which is a beautiful, Italianate-style home and the historic site for the evening soiree, Kristen, the director of the conference, welcomed us and made introductions.  With the mansion tour, new friends and conversations, not to mention the delicious spread and photo opportunities, a delightful evening was had by all!  

Weekend companions - Amber, Ginny the doll & me!
Amber looked fabulous in her purple sheer and matching bracelets!

Sarah from Ensembles of the Past, Kristen of the Victorian Needle & Me
- all very happy to be there!

I even met Elizabeth Aldridge!
  
Yummy yummies, or the obligatory food picture 😋

More food and a Kristen!
I wish I could go back, just to eat more finger sandwiches and cookies... 

Ginny, the blog's traveling doll, enjoyed getting passed around:  

With Amber, wearing almost matching dress styles...
Amber, I still love your dress and want to steal that fabric! 

With the youngest (and cutest!) attendee 

With Kristen and Sarah

Following the soiree, Amber and I joined a small group that toured the Old Mill Museum in Dundee, which was once a working gristmill and now a museum and popular spot for ghost hunting.  Though we didn't witness any paranormal activity, our tour guide was very enthusiastic and our group had a great time.  Perhaps it was just me, but some of the mannequins in the upstairs displays seemed more frightening than any ghost, especially if encountered alone in the dark...I only kid.  The upstairs exhibits provided a history of the Dundee area and a neat series of slice-of-life vignettes:

General store display.

Parlor display.


Saturday, March 24th

The day of conferencing - speakers, socializing and shopping, unite!  Kristen and Glenna Jo, the two masterminds behind the entire event, opened the conference at eight:

Glenna Jo and Kristen delivering the opening remarks

Pretty table decorations, all handmade by Kristen.

There were four, fabulous speakers:

The two Elizabeths!

  • Elizabeth Stewart Clark (of the Sewing Academy fame) presented An Eye for Detail: Examining Original Images, Paintings and Engravings for the Details that Change Our Impression, which calls researchers not only to look in general contexts and for specific goals, but to really see what the visual texts communicate.  She also spoke on Our Latest Number: Mid-19th Century Magazines and What They Tell Us, which has opened my eyes to the many offerings in periodicals, and their use in living history events.  
  • Robert Beech spoke on period photography, his experiences and artistic practices, and even gave an outdoor demonstration in Civil War Era Photography: A Reenactor's Perspective.


  • Elizabeth Aldridge presented Removing Roadblocks in Your Research, which was the most comprehensive teaching in research practices and the overall process I've ever had, in just an hour too!  
  • Jillian Drapala chronicled a fascinating history of Female Anomalies of the Civil War, and her dedication to research and making their stories better know was clear in her own impression of Annie Etheridge.  

As well as a youth workshop, in which we discussed how we may be young, yet we are just as passionate about reenacting and honoring our history!

The next generation of living historians addressing the room!

There were plenty of opportunities for shopping in the "Vendor Area" -


Sarah of Ensembles of the Past brought a rainbow of silks!

More silks and all of the reproduction buckles! 

I treated myself to some pretty ribbons and flowers from The Dressmaker's Shop, and silks and reproduction buckles from Ensembles of the Past:


I'm envisioning a drawn bonnet in my future...

As well as a "Musuem" full of extant garments, each matched with an original image - which was literally amazing!  I believe that most, if not all of the objects were from the personal collections of Glenna Jo and Kristen: 





And last, but certainly not least, every conference needs a Board of Positivity: 



Sunday, March 24th

On the closing day, I had the opportunity to attend two workshops - both Fitting from Patterns and the "drop in" Pattern Making taught by Elizabeth Clark.

Explaining "radial projection" as a way to scale patterns in the morning workshop.

Demonstrating draping in the afternoon "drop in" workshop.

I could go on and on about these workshops, and how generous Elizabeth was with her time, knowledge and skills...but I'll leave it with this:

My beloved introduction to historical dressmaking, signed by the author!


Thank you so much to everyone involved with making the conference such a memorable experience - Kristen, Glenna Jo, the speakers, vendors and all behind-the-scenes

Poor Kristen is rightfully exhausted!

And thank you Amber, my friend and roommate for the conference, 'twas such a pleasure to get to know you and I hope to see you again this year!


Alright, who am I going to see next weekend at the 2019 Citizen's Forum?

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