My name is Annette Bethke. I am originally from a small town named for a Donner Party survivor in the Mother Lode region of California; I now live in Maryland after 20 years in Texas. I have always loved history and “playing dress up.” My mother would buy used formals at thrift shops for me to play with as a child. I remember watching a film at Disneyland’s Circlevision that included scenes from Williamsburg and thinking “there is really a place where people play dress up all day long? I want to go there.” I was too young at that time to realize what “there” was. All through elementary school I looked forward to the dress up days–Halloween, Literary Character day, Thanksgiving, Luau Day, you name it. Then came the Bicentennial! Then it ended and I needed an outlet for this need to dress up in historical clothes. 50’s Days at school, Dickens’ Fairs, Renaissance Fairs, trick or treating until I was long passed the age of it being appropriate. I then found Civil War reenacting!
I have been involved in Civil War living history since 1989 through reenacting and volunteering at living history sites. While it was the love of the clothes that first brought me to the hobby, my interest has expanded to include the everyday life of the mid-19th century and the authentic interpretation of that period. My presentations have included informal classes for the University of Texas in Austin; Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums’ annual conference; Fort Women Living History Association meeting; the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference; the Texas Living History Association’s conference; and numerous school presentations. I have also published papers in the Citizen’s Companion and the ALHFAM “Bulletin.”