Internet Archive (archive.org) announced Wednesday that they are temporarily suspending their Waitlist that sometimes slows your efforts to research a particular family. They're calling it their National Emergency Library because so many students are stuck at home. If you are like me and put in a Waitlist request and then forget why you wanted that book when you get the email saying it's available, this is a blessing. Thank you, Internet Archive. The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS, aka americanancestors.org) announced in their weekly online newsletter that they are giving free access to the books and other publications in their Digital Collections. They are normally available only to members. To access them, go to digitalcollections.americanancestors.org. Thank you, NEHGS!
If you are going a little crazy and knitting Pilgrim garb is not your skill (see March 3rd's "Clocked Stockings" blogpost), try sewing it. If you have sewn even a little, a chemise/smock/shirt should be achievable. This is the linen top that men wore in the 1500s-1600s - a mid-calf length version being what the women wore. They slept in it at night, put their clothes on over it and wore it all day, etc. It was easier and cheaper to have 1 or 2 of these and wash them rather than their outer garments.
Reconstructing History sells downloadable, historically accurate patterns for garments & accessories, including Pilgrim garb. For about 1/3 of what you'd pay for tissue-paper dressmaking patterns, good for 1 or 2 uses, you can download a PDF, have your local office supply store print it on large-format paper or print it yourself (see photo) and make any and all versions as often as you like. Reconstructing History also includes advice on altering the "look" as desired.
Below you can see pattern RH104 (Men's & Women's 1600s Shirts and Shifts - companion not included), my printed pattern laid out on the dining room table and test-fitted with removable tape, then the 28 sheets taped together more permanently with packing tape. Finally, you'll see some cut-out individual pieces.
A few things to point out: My printer did not print the last inch at the bottom - I had to tape on 4 more sheets of paper and draw it by hand. Also, you will see where I had to cut off some of the overlapped paper to reveal important sewing terms (like "fold") on the next sheet. Also, the online ordering instructions say to expect an email with a link to download the PDF but no email arrived at my end. I did find the pattern waiting for me in "My Account," though. Finally, heed the designer's warning to read the instructions often and carefully because even a garment this simple was not constructed the same way we make them today.
Next up: Where do you get historically accurate cloth?
In case you were planning a genealogy research trip to the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., be aware that it is closed until April 1, at which time the executive board will reassess the status. The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) - everywhere, including the Presidential Libraries around the nation - is also closed to the public. The Library of Congress (LOC) is closed for in-person research at least until April 1. The Maryland State Archives in Annapolis is closed for public research. In Baltimore, the Maryland Historical Society is also closed to the public until April 1, as of their latest announcement. If you planned to go to a courthouse in Maryland, check this link to see their current status. Some of you may belong to one of the lineage societies that meet in Washington, D.C. each April and I urge you to see if your meeting is still being held. If your event is still "on" and you were thinking of researching in other nearby states, this is a reminder to check at the state, county, city levels and with the individual historical societies. In the meantime, stay healthy.
If you are planning a visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, they have posted an online notice that they closed Friday, March 13 at 5:00 pm "until further notice" due to the Corona Virus, or COVID-19. A source with the Arizona Council of Professional Genealogists (AzCPG) reports that the Arizona family history "libraries" associated with the SLC library are also closed. It is not clear to me whether this refers to the family history centers at local LDS churches or some actual libraries elsewhere. (AzCPG has cancelled its April 4 annual meeting, too.) As of today (Saturday, 3.14.20) the West Valley Genealogical Society in Youngtown, AZ is open. They post updates as downloadable PDFs on their home page and the March 12 PDF says they have cancelled the new member meet & greet scheduled for March 23rd and their April membership meeting.
With all the craziness in the news, manufacturing stress for everyone in every walk of light, I heard a suggestion for a way to mellow out a bit and thought I'd pass it along. I listen to a network of 168 U.S. Catholic radio stations called "Relevant Radio" - download the app if you aren't within listening distance of an affiliate station - and some of their programming is useful for putting your mind back into a quieter place. The programs I listen to are the Patrick Madrid Show (apologetics, history, general advice about life's problems), the Father Simon Says Show (if you are into linguistics he is full of historical analysis of Biblical translations), and St. Joseph's Workshop (with a priest who strikes me as Mr. Rogers in a Roman collar.) Patrick takes phone-in questions during his morning programming but shows are repeated in the evening or at night so there's always someone there with a calming approach, 24/7. Those particular Relevant Radio hosts are definitely not a tent revival crowd and are full of interesting historical information that takes my mind off other things. The picture below is the icon for their app to help you find it at your app store. Just an idea...think about turning off the ranting station you may listen to (especially if the ranting is corona virus hysteria or presidential politics) and give Relevant Radio a try.
What we got was an invitation addressed to "resident" with a household identifying number and then we went online and filled out the actual questionnaire. We must be on the "short version" list because it asked only the name, birthdate, relationship to each other, race, and specific background such as Irish, Polish, etc. No citizenship question on our version. It also asked if our abode was paid for, if we anticipated having anyone else in our household on April 1, and any of us would NOT be home that day. (This is to avoid double counting anyone.) There was a reminder on the envelope that participation is required by federal law and the letter indicated that if you don't go online to respond they will mail a paper form and if need be send an enumerator to your door. So, it didn't hurt at all. Please do participate when your invitation arrives.
In case you are not a member but are planning to visit NEHGS HQ in quarantined Boston this month, you will need to change your plans. This from their website (americanancestors.org) March 12th, as of 1:24 pm Mountain Standard Time:
To help ensure the health and safety of our members, visitors, and staff, effective at 5 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2020 we will suspend all in-person programming through March 31, 2020 and we will suspend research hours at our library and Jewish Heritage Center beginning at 5 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 13, 2020 until 9 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
We will continue to plan for, and adapt to, changing circumstances, as merited, and we will communicate with you via email and our website, as more information becomes available. Information will be regularly updated on AmericanAncestors.org/coronavirus. Registrants for programs scheduled during our building closure period will receive specific communications directly from program staff.
During this health crisis, the safest way to take part in our activities will be through our website at AmericanAncestors.org where we offer a huge array of records, online programs, video lectures, and many special features. We encourage your use of our website until this health crisis has subsided. During this time, our dedicated staff will be working remotely and we remain available to help you with your family history endeavors by telephone, email, and videoconference.
If you have questions about access to services, please contact our Member Services team at 1-888-296-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It closes with best wishes from NEHGS President & CEO, Brenton Simons.
Note from your MayflowerFaces.com webmaster: If you are not already an NEHGS member, this is your excuse to join now. Particularly if you do a lot of genealogical research related to the Northeastern U.S., membership is priceless. At $94.95 per year it is the biggest genealogical bargain going.
Best wishes to everyone in Boston.
The last two newsletters of the National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars (NSDCW), the Tudor Rose, has featured images of the interior restoration work needed at the meetinghouse in Plymouth, MA (bought by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) in 2017.) The building dates to 1896 but the site is where the original Pilgrim meetinghouse, used for both civil and religious gatherings, was built in 1621. The national leader of a lineage society typically has a "president's project" for which she or he raises funds and NSDCW president Alice Strouse Ellingsburgh is focusing on the interior gallery walls of the meetinghouse, to which the NSDCW will contribute $15,000 that an anonymous donor will match to make the total $30,000. Checks or money orders payable to "National Treasurer NSDCW" can be sent to the National President's Project Chair Sandy Sidler, 1218 Elm St., North Fargo, ND 58102. Many female Mayflower descendants are eligible for membership in the NSDCW on the basis of descent from colonial military and civilian leaders: Myles Standish, Stephen & Giles Hopkins, Edward Winslow, Resolved & Peregrine White, John Alden, William Bradford, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson, Love Brewster, Francis & John Cooke, and probably others.
Somewhere in this photo (probably) is the drummer who led us out of the RootsTech main hall and over to the giant Mayflower model where we posed for an official photo taken by a photographer on a ladder. The fellow in green in the center is the current Governor General (national president) of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, from CO. Next to him and wearing an attractive handmade brown linen jacket, tan skirt, and dishtowel-plus-hat is moi, from AZ. Behind him in the hand-knitted green period sailors' hat is a genealogist for the New England Historical Genealogical Society in MA whom you might recognize from his photo in American Ancestors magazine. Way over on the left in the pink jacket is the CA plein air artist & author introduced to you a few blogposts ago. The rest are mainly hardy Utah Mayflower Society volunteers. (I'm leaving off the names to avoid being tagged and sent all over the internet without these people's permission.) The official photograph will likely appear in an upcoming American Ancestors, Mayflower Quarterly (the GSMD newsletter), or on the NEHGS or GSMD websites (or both.)
Nobody then wore pants as we know them now, no matter the weather. The men were in knee-length breeches and the women in voluminous skirts. With the wind thus whistling up their legs both sexes wore knitted or sewn socks which went up over the knees and might be tied at the top with a knitted strip. The knitted socks were even made to look as though they had a seam running up the back, which I think means sewn socks were invented first. The instruction book has photos and instructions of knitted garb that Plimoth Plantation reenactors wear. (Some of their volunteer knitters are on Ravelry.com and you can read about their experiences with the yarns and patterns. Search for "clocked stockings" to find them.) You might wish to wear these when in costume or if you just want a jaunty new hat or waistcoat the book has instructions for those as well. I have started a pair of clocked stockings for myself using 8 skeins (!) of the "official yarn" - New Plimoth Worsted - spun and dyed under license by Plimoth Plantation at Harrisville Designs, a 200-year-old New Hampshire mill. The color is "Carnation." (Both yarn and patterns, sold individually or as a book, are available only at Plimoth Plantation's online shop under "knitting.") And why do they call them "clocked"? If you look carefully at the ankles you will see a small design knitted into them, not necessarily a clock, and possibly developed to make darned repairs look better. Clothes were repaired and worn for eons, then on death bequeathed to others in the deceased's will, socks included.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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