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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Civil War Widow at Salt Lake City Library

Saturday May 18th, 2013.  The Salt Lake City Public Library had a presentation on Abraham Lincoln this month and they wanted some Civil War re-enactors to help promote it.  I decided to go as a widow since J had to work that day.  We had been playing with the idea of making me a Civil War Widow persona for some time.  J gave me my new Widow dress for Valentine's Day (So romantic).  I made some black petticoats, and pinned black trim around the bottom of my hoop skirt.  I also did some research on proper 1860's Mourning customs and even made a quaint poster about it.  If they could afford it, Widows would wear black petticoats or at least the bottom part of the petticoat and hoop would be covered in black cloth so when they walked no white would show beneath the skirt.
Here is the Library's fabulous Lincoln exhibit.  It was very nice.
Each section had three sides.
Top of the line.
Museum quality.
     Below is the most complete group shot of the day.  Not everyone made it into the photo.  A dozen or so people volunteered.  Every person that volunteers is greatly appreciated.  Rachel even brought all four of her darling children.  They are all so well behaved and look great in period clothes.   
I arrived at 8am to start setting up.  Since it was raining  heavily we were allowed to set up inside.  I cannot drive in my hoop skirt, so I got dressed as soon as Rachel arrived.
Patrick, our library contact and nicest guy ever, lead Rachel and I through the employee only parts of the library to his personal office in the puppet room, so we would not have to change in the public restrooms.  The library is huge.  There was no way I could ever find my way there again, even if I did have the magic key card to open all the doors.  I felt like Harry Potter at Hogwarts.  
The puppet room was aptly named, because it was full of puppets, lots of puppets, puppets that filled the shelves that line the walls. Nope, not creepy at all.  (sarcasm).     
Myself, Kelly, Rachel, and Crystal.  
This was Kelly and Crystal's first Civil War event.  We are all wearing new dresses.
This is Jake's display.  Not only did he make all the uniforms, he also made the mannequins they are displayed on. He got mad ninja historical display making skills.
Rachel set up her calligraphy station.
This is her daughter practicing.  Good job Kendal.
This is our fearless leader Kris, president of the Fort Douglas Living History attachment 1858 - 1865. He was demonstrating the daily life of an era solider ( they apparently slept a lot) and displaying items they generally carried with them.
This is my poster.  I felt like I was in elementary school again gluing pictures onto a board and presenting it to the public(Ahh! the halcyon days of my bygone youth).  Mourning was work primarily relegated to women.  A widower would wear a black arm band or black crepe band around their hat for up to 3 months or so but a widow was expected to mourn for at least 2 and 1/2 years.  The first stage of mourning was called Heavy or Deep mourning where the mourner dressed all in black and wore a black mourning bonnet with a long black veil to cover their face. The veil protected the mourners dignity by not allowing people to see  her tear stained face. Only jewelry that was black (often made of polished coal) was worn.  This period was to last a year and a day from the time of the mourned ones death. Full Mourning then began where the veil could be shortened and some hints of color (white collar and cuffs) were allowed. Finally the Half Mourning period began  in which purple, gray and lavender colors were added to the wardrobe.  Wearing  black was a sign of respect.  Going through the stages of mourning helped the mourner to progress through the stages of grief.  Some widows never stopped mourning for their dearly departed.  Famous Civil War era Widows of note include Queen Victoria, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Mary Anna Morrison Jackson ( Stonewall Jackson's wife) all of whom remained in mourning and wore black the rest of their days.
 My Daddy came to support me.
Larry and his display.  He and his lovely wife Crystal came all the way from Cedar City to play with us.
Mrs. Rachel and the littlest reenactor baby Kenna (10 months).

The library was planning on having a Lincoln look alike contest, but alas there were no Lincoln proxies to be judged .  These are our two Lincoln Librarians who planned on being the afor mentioned judges.  The gentleman in the blue shirt is Patrick (he of the not at all creepy puppet room) who helped us set up.

Local author Will Bagley gave a presentation on Utah and the Civil War.
  Below is the lovely Mrs. Bagley selling books during his presentation in the lecture hall.
Some candid public shots.

A very fun day indeed. I hope we are invited back soon.