Civil War Civilian Living History

Interpreting the American Civil War Home Front

Civilian Symposium Comes to an End

I’ll say it up front: The Civilian Symposium aka The Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference has come to an end after 23 years of promoting authenticity and research in the living history field. Genteel Arts continues with workshops and lectures in locations throughout the country. This was a surprise to me but understand the need to let go and move on. I’m looking forward to Carolann’s presentations and lectures in the future. So, with that out of the way…

This year the Symposium was held in Gettysburg at the fire house. The space is smaller than the previous location in Camp Hill but it worked well. I was lucky enough to speak at the Symposium this year. My topic was homespun and it’s use in the American south. I have loaded the presentation text on my website.

Before the conference, my good friend Hal from Texas and I visited the hair jewelry exhibit at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. It was a small exhibit but had some great pieces.

Thursday evening Hal and I attended a behind the scenes tour of the Gettysburg Cyclorama. To start we had a great presentation about the history of the cyclorama and then an up close and personal view of the painting.













Friday started with workshops. My first one was trims and an examination of originals from Carolann Schmitt’s collection.













My next workshop was making reticules. I forgot to take pictures. I bought both kits, a velvet, beaded one and a leather and fabric one.  Following the workshops, we visited the vendors that were set up at the Heritage Center. Timely Tresses was there and I purchased a soft crown bonnet frame.

The conference began Friday night and my talk, Patriotism and Necessity: The Use of Homespun in the Southern US during the American Civil War. I think it went well; although, it went long like most of my talks do.

Saturday morning we finally got to show off our conference fabric creations. You will find the dress construction post here.

The presentations were great. I particularly enjoyed John Peterson’s presentation Buttons! Ribbons! All Sorts of Yankee Notions! – The Peddler in Fact and Fancy. Of course, the display of originals was as fantastic as always; many from K. Krewer’s, Carolann Schmitt’s, Brian Koenig and my collections.

The originals were switched out during the symposium.

Saturday night was a ball with Smash the Windows. I didn’t take my ball gown and just wore my conference dress. But Hal looked very dapper in his evening clothes. 

And he’s a wonderful dancer. I don’t waltz well but dancing with Hal was effortless.

Sunday Hal made his presentation on The Trinity Mills Store Ledger: Documenting Consumerism on the Eve of the Civil War. I have heard this presentation before and get something new from it each time. It is thorough research and Hal is a great speaker. It dispelled many myths regarding life in Texas and the availability of goods. The final presentation was Carolann’s information on fabric printing technology.

So ended the last Civilian Symposium.

Categories: Civil War, classes, Gettysburg