A "Lunch Date With History": My first lecture
Last Friday, I had the greatest honor of being part of the lecture series "Lunch Dates with History", at the Howard County History Museum in Ellicott City, MD. (My hometown).
For those who are not familiar with Ellicott City or it's history, I'll give you a crash course: EC (or Ellicott Mills as it was originally called), was founded by the Ellicott Brothers; Quakers from Bucks County, PA. The Industrial Revolution was the only revolution the town participated in with many mills popping up, the growing city was given its namesake "Ellicott Mills". Before I go down the rabbit hole and continue on with EC's history, I'm just going to post a link so you can read at your own leisure.
|Aerial view of Ellicott City's historic district|
Anyway, The topic of my lecture was on clothing in the colonial period. Again, this is in reverence to the early period of Ellicott Mill's minute colonial history and curiosity of the residents.
When I began outlining what I wanted to teach, I had in mind to start with the basics: clothing for men, women, and children. Then categorize by social class groups such as aristocracy, middle class, and lower/working class (the indentured and enslaved were also to be included). But after being informed that my seminar was to be an hour long, I noticed I did not have enough information to stretch everything out. So I decided to go another route: a time line going from 1600-1806.
Early Federal Period
Despite preparation, I was more than a little nervous; I had not done a lecture before and had finished everything an hour before the program started. Plus I did not have any time to rehearse. It was nerve-wracking, but with the help of my friends and family there for moral support and to calm me down, I did what I came there to do: to teach and interpret the past through clothing.
Ready or not...
|It was a packed crowd!|
|Trying to hide my nerves|
Needless to say, the lecture wet well. It caught the attention of the audience and opened the floor to some really good Q&A afterwards.
In addition to talking about the different time periods, I also went over relating topics such as regimental clothing of soldiers during the American Revolution, what they wore and what lengths the soldiers took to acquire new items when their uniforms were worn out. The age of the homespun movement and how that paved the way for the early industrial revolution (if you think about it, its clothing and textiles being made in the United States for the first time). The fashion trend known as "Macaroni"; how it started and how it inspired the song "Yankee Doodle". The ornate hairstyles of both men & women during the middle and later half of the 18th century, and clothing in religion and how ministers and nuns wearing white and black was mostly a symbol of humility, authority, and education as well as the differences between the clothing of the Pilgrims, Puritans, and Quakers and how the color black was mostly exclusive to the upper class and merchants due to financial accessibility and it was hard to replicate the black dye bath in the colonies at the time.
I wanted to be sure to touch on the subject of clothing of the enslaved. When doing the research for my lecture, I took a little more time in getting the correct information. During the lecture I went over how clothing was mostly given to slaves by their masters as a uniform depending on the occupation they're assigned to; explained the cultural and personal identities such as the color red (which can be identified with the Himba and Maasai tribes), cowry shells, the history of the Tignon. I explained the differences in clothing selection in the Caribbean Islands and how the clothing there is more Afrocentric than European (due to the African culture and importation of textiles from Europe that are suitable for the Caribbeans hot climate). I also talked about runaway ads which usually described what the person took with them when they ran.
In retrospect there's definitely a few things I would have loved to change about the lecture and presenting it. First and foremost, rehearse a few days before so I'll feel a little more comfortable presenting and will not have to read word-for-word on the cards. Secondly don't handwrite everything....
I want to thank Shawn Gladden the Director of the Howard County Historical Society for inviting me to present for "Lunchdates with History Lecture" series", my family for their help as well as my friends Sean M and Lisa Neel for their support and letting me borrow their dress forms for the day. I couldn't have done this without you all.
On another note, I am really digging this updated style of my 1770's silk jacket.
More photos of the lecture and museum in the link below
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