Friends, on a recent Facebook list discussion, an interesting tangent came up.
The situation is that a history site focused on mid-to-late 19th century is doing candle-dipping as a demonstration of "period life". Sound familiar?
No, no one has been spying on *your* site. It's just that common a problem: use of an anachronistic Olden Tymey Crafte as a fun and accessibly springboard for visitors, but without the context of just how production-and-industry-minded people of the actual era were, and how far the reach of production and industry spread by the mid-19th century.
Mr Mescher brought up an excellent point about the relative disuse of home-made candles, and the challenges to producing them (huge quantities of beeswax and the accompanying costs and labor of large-scale beekeeping, tallow candle production, and ready availability of better, cheaper fuel sources. He linked over to Virginia Mescher's excellent article on lighting at mid-century: http://www.raggedsoldier.com/candle_article.pdf
(If you're wanting the entire Virginia's Veranda archive, go here: http://www.raggedsoldier.com/archive.htm
So thinking on this topic leads me to a larger Philosophy Meets Practice discussion: how do we go about encouraging change and actually making change at historic sites we may help with, to get away from Olden Tymey, and moving toward Actual History?
I'll be back later to share some thoughts. In the meantime, please share your productive, positive ideas for moving history education forward by tossing Mythtory in favor of History.
Time for an Experience Dog-Pile!