BVMA Blog: Through a glass darkly – thoughts on how to survive the living history hobby

By Chris Osinski / January 31, 2017

Valley History Alliance/BVMA

It’s a new year! The organization is going through some changes. It’s time to inspire each other to change as well. The
hobby is moving forward, we, as individuals and as an organization must embrace the movement. The public, as in people we encounter while enjoying our hobby,are savvy! People read more, they research on the internet, they watch the history channel and they ask questions. They know when we are making things up.
Attending an event to stand around looking “old timey, rustic” and burn powder is no longer an acceptable option. We owe better to our audience, our ancestors, the sites we visit and ourselves. Strive to be the very best living historians that we can be.
This organization is dedicated to this ideal. We have expanded the time frame from 1740-1820, the colonial through federal periods. History happened here in our area, not just the American War for independence, it’s important to tell more of the story.

I will challenge you all to inspire improvement, help a fellow reenactor make a change, research a new time period within our scope, share some research,” bust a myth”, take a workshop, develop a persona, learn a new skill! Its all good!
I hope to see you all on March 18th at the Pine Tree. Bring a friend along! Living history can be additcive.
If you need help just ask. we have hundreds of years of experience among our members!
chris Osinski Education Coordinator VHA/BVMA

By Chris Osinski / September 6, 2016

What ever shall I wear to an event? And WHY is that important?

Hi, I’m trying out our new blog! Clothing is one of my favorite subjects.
In less than a month we will be holding an event at the Ft Klock Historic Restoration in St Johnsville, NY. In preparation for this event I hope that everyone is thinking about what they should wear. In today’s changing world of “re enacting” we, as living historians owe it to our “audience” to portray our subjects as accurately as possible. This means dusting off the ever popular; who? what? when? where? and Why?.
In the case of Ft. Klock we have Who? Are you a Palatine or dutch Mohawk valley rebel or “whig”resident, Loyalist, including king’s troops and british allied native americans? What? Are you Farmers, laborers, land owners, wives, children, militia members. When? The year is 1781, the war officially ended in october 1781 but the canadian loyalists apparently didnt get the news. Where? western Mohawk valley in the state of NY, specifically fortified homesteads in and around the Mohawk valley. Why? Raiding parties from Canada continued to practice their “special” brand of guerrilla warfare.
We have found evidence that the German, Dutch and Scottish immigrants who settled here likely held on to their European cultures as much as they could. There is also evidence that by 1781 some residents likely had adopted some English clothing and customs. For women this means that the Dutch and German habit of wearing short/bedgowns, Jackets or caraco type garments would have been practical and common. When leaving your home or farm the social custom of wearing some type of sleeved garment would have been followed. This means that wearing your stays or jumps in the presence of company was considered improper. Some English style gowns would be worn, women who spent time in more metropolitan areas likely wore a more fashion forward ensemble.
Men who labored or worked on farms dressed simply in practical box frocks and breeches or trousers. A head covering was always worn. When socializing, the custom of wearing a sleeved garment prevailed. The French and indian war ended 20 years before this event, while older men may have preferred a longer style waistcoat or frock coat, it would likely be a style from 1770 rather than 1760, in addition the french fly front breeches would not be worn.
I would love for someone in the loyalist camp to weigh in on their proper attire. I do know that some of the loyalist refugees would have been dutch, palatine or scottish and to an extent may have retained some of their cultural and class based preferences.
I hope this helps give you an idea about your portrayal. I would love to see everyone taking on a role and not just dressing as a generic costumed re enactor. If you require assistance in this, please ask.
chris Osinski ( who recently discovered her Dutch and Scottish mohawk valley anscestors)

By Craig Miller / May 12, 2016

Welcome to the BVMA Blog

Hello all,

Welcome to the BVMA’s newest venture into the 21st Century, the Blog. I know that it may seem a bit of a oxymoron to use 21st Century technology when talking about the 18th Century but this a a great way to disseminate information and engage those of us in the hobby (or are thinking of entering the hobby). Feel free to comment on this, or any other blog, that appears on these pages.

Craig