Reports from the Front: An Intro to Historical Reenacting and Living History


Me out in the wilderness reenacting!

I’ve been a historical reenactor for almost a decade now and I wouldn’t trade my experiences and friendships gained through this fantastic avenue for anything.  Reenacting is an outstanding hobby: physically and mentally stimulating, a great place to discuss something you love with others who share your passion, and just all around fun!

As such, this first article in a planned series on the hobby is to help an interested party figure out how to make their first contact with those in the hobby and to explain a few of the broader details.  In the future, I’ll cover other topics in more detail, but for now let’s get started.

1)      Figure out what era you’re most interested in

This one is fairly self-explanatory! Figure out what part of history you’re interested in recreating and you’ll be able to move forward from there. Whether it’s the Second World War, Roman, Medieval, the American colonial period or pretty much any period of history you can think of, there’s bound to be a group for it.

2)      Finding an organization or unit in your area

The first and really most important step to getting into the hobby is to find a unit or organization in your area (generally they can draw members from the state, or even multiple states) which represents the era you are interested in, the most popular, at least on the West coast, is WWII, with Civil War a close second.  On the East coast, you’re more likely to be able to find American colonial living historians.

Once you’ve found an organization, get in touch with them. Send an email or give their representative a phone call. They’re usually pretty happy to have other interested folks and can help you get set up.   Each unit will have its own standards and expectations about equipment quality, purchases, and so forth, so make sure you find one you can work with!

3)      Research!

Last for now, and certainly not the least, do your research!  It’s not enough to just want to recreate the era.  Any reenacting takes at least some research, which means sticking your nose in a book, perusing original images and first hand accounts  and picking up as many of the little details as possible.  Details will be important, but concentrate (at first) on making sure that the big things are correct. All things will come in time, and as long as you make an effort to improve, you’ll be doing it right.

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