My Historian Psychic Powers! 😂
NEWS FROM NON-BORING HOUSE: A Guide to Mount Vernon in Klingon, yes, from Star Trek, and Why Non-Boring History Sometimes Seems to Predict the Future
About Cherokees and Slaves
If you missed it (and you may well have, since the Gnomes here at Non-Boring House report that Substack, the platform we use, had an outage on Saturday, or at least it did for us) don’t miss out on my latest Tales post:
This was a doozy, wasn’t it? And I didn’t even get to do justice to the later parts of the story. Man, I love early American history.
Oh, and I forgot to mention something very cool: Dr. Theda Perdue, the historian whose book I was working from, is a white Southern woman, with all her degrees from the University of Georgia. She has spent her long and continuing career working closely with Native American folks and organizations, to write terrific history. Trust me: Being a historian isn’t lucrative, and much of what we do goes far beyond what we’re paid to do.
Guide to George Washington’s Home in Klingon
You know I seldom post links (I prefer NBH to be my own and other historians’ work), but HUGE hand to the folks at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, for this brilliant video review by a Klingon. Yes, from Star Trek. You guys are never going to believe I’m not a Star Trek fan, but I’m really not! This, however, is hilarious.
And what a great way to say “We’re not as stuffy as you think” and “Black visitors are welcome at Mount Vernon now, even as Klingons.”
Seriously, Mount Vernon is better than it used to be: It does have a free audio tour that focuses on the lives of the enslaved people who were owned by the first President. That said, I do wish this subject was an integral—yes, even central— part of the visitor experience, and not segregated and a teensy bit apologetic. Yes, I do know how weird and resistant people can be to uncomfortable historical fact. My response to such visitors? Tough noogies. Mount Vernon, you can hire me to come say that in my British accent to tourists if you like . . . Oh, wait. No. That probably wouldn’t go down so well at the home of the man who kicked British butt. . .
Don’t Pinch the Nuts, and Nutty Employers
Honestly, if I were an exploited Victorian domestic servant in England, paid diddly-squat for working 6.5 days a week, I wouldn’t hesitate to pilfer what I could from Lord and Lady Upstairs, the tight-fisted gits.
Unfortunately for petty larcenists like me, the former owners of Tredegar House, a grand historic mansion in Wales that's now a museum, guessed that their servants might look for ways to supplement their miserable income. That’s why even the cook or chef had to go ask the housekeeper every time he or she wanted to use expensive ingredients. When I visited Tredegar a few years ago, the locked drawers of culinary ingredients in the housekeeper’s room (photo above) caught my eye. I could just imagine a bloke with a little paintbrush asking the housekeeper how she wanted each drawer labeled, and her saying:
“Hmm, just write “seeds” on that one.”
“What sort of seeds?”
“You know. All sorts. And can I have a drawer for my almonds? All three kinds.”
As for the stuff in the bottom drawer? Isinglas is gelatin made from fish, the bones I guess, which the Victorians (who were passionate about jellied everything) used quite a bit. Hartshorn was used as one way to raise cakes before baking powder was available. It’s better known to bakers in the US as baker’s ammonia, and is still sometimes used for making old recipes. But the stuff probably smells awful in the oven, so I’ve just ignored the rare recipes that call for it.
Servants in the Downton era had to put up with all sorts of upper-class nonsense, like this from the early 20th century:
Stories from Chain of Rocks: You may not have heard of this place, but you won’t soon forget it
I enjoyed this post at Unseen St. Louis, Jackie Dana’s local history newsletter about her hometown, St. Louis, Missouri. Jackie finds so many stories about one iconic (but taken for granted) part of the city. This newsletter is a great example of how local historians can enrich our understanding of where we are. Don’t know anything about St. Louis? Now’s your chance!
By the by, I did a bit of local history when I lived in Statesboro, GA, revealing stories about the place that the Good Old Boys and Girls would rather I not, which (let me tell you) was such fun! Strangely, although I did an exhibit about the local civil rights movement that got national attention, I was never invited to come speak to the local historical society . . . Can’t imagine why . . . Anyhow, promise to write a post or two on what I got up to in local history!
Now, for Nonnies only, some examples of my psychic powers . . .
Read NBH often? This is your moment to become a Non-Boring History Nonnie! Seize it!
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