“Won’t I/she/he get hot?” is a frequently heard question when a new Youth Volunteer
comes to me to discuss reproduction historic clothing, and the answer is “Yes, but this is how people dressed back then.”
On February 11, our Youth Experience Coordinator, Sarah Morin, called the 30 youth who were added to our Youth Volunteer program for 2011, joining 70 or so returning boys and girls. Not all Youth Volunteers take on a first-person, reproduction-historic-clothing-wearing role, but that’s what drew many of them to the program in the first place, and sometime in March or April, they’ll show up for an appointment in Historic Clothing.
We start with the basics: “This is how you would have dressed in 1836 or 1816.” (Youth will have to wait and see if there will be “first person” roles in 1863 for them.) Many of them are surprised at the different layers that were worn, especially by girls, but I assure them that “they” wore even more.
Boys have to have a shirt, waistcoat (optional for 1816), neckerchief and trousers, and girls have a petticoat, dress, apron, and daycap. They all have to wear hats or bonnets outside, long stockings and shoes that look right for the time period, even though their 1816 and 1836 counterparts may have gone barefoot all summer.
All of them get to choose from our selection of as-accurate-as-possible fabrics. It’s always interesting watching to see if the accompanying adult guides or tries to guide the youth’s choices. After that, girls have to choose their dress, apron and daycap style, while the boys are ready to pay and hit the road. Finally, laden with fabric, patterns, instructions and notions (including rope for the girl’s corded petticoats), they head out, followed by parents who may be dreading or anticipating sewing for their youth or hurrying home to call down the “approved sewist” list to find someone to do it for them. “Don’t forget to pre-shrink your fabric,” I call. “Good sewing!”
When the outfit has been approved for sewing accuracy and is modeled for fitting approval, it’s all worth it. Anna, Sarah, Jake or Sam “is approved to work in Prairietown or Lenapehoeking
Last week was National Volunteer Week. A short history....National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing the week as an annual celebration of volunteering. Since then, every U.S. President has signed a proclamation promoting it.
Conner Prairie couldn’t operate without the help of volunteers. We have more than 375 people who help throughout the year with everything from driving tractors for hayrides during Country Fair and passing out treats during Prairie Tykes, to helping with mailings and greeting guests. Community organizations also support us by encouraging staff to volunteer.
Last Saturday, April 25, Comcast volunteered in a huge way. Comcast Cares Day is a national event for Comcast. Each of their local offices chooses a non-profit entity within their community and sends employees and their families to spend several hours volunteering. This year, they chose Conner Prairie. Approximately 310 people worked 3 hours each, donating a total of 930 hours to Conner Prairie! That’s comparable to the time a part-time person works in a year—now that’s impressive! In addition to volunteering their time, they also donated 40 shovels and 40 rakes.
While they were here, they:
- built a beach for Adventure Camp
- cleared brush and trash from 2 trails
- built a canoe take-out area for Adventure Camp
- cleared the Adventure Camp challenge course, the Amphitheater and Lilly Cabin area
- built 240 feet of Civil War fence
- pulled 50 pounds of garlic mustard weed
- spread 20 yards of mulch
- cleaned a few hundred event chairs
- And filled 400 sandbags that will be used May 5 during balloon inflation day for 1859 Balloon Voyage.