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Discussion about "A Modest Proposal"
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Jim Jacobs
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a rule I agree with Alan Gutchess. I want to be clear about that. But I do think that in some respects his "Modest Proposal" doesn't go quite far enough, in that it has its basis it the fallacy that the written word is infallible, and it fails to acknowledge the importance of well done, practical field research by way of verifying the written word and the theoretical conclusions that spring from it. In the past, as it is now, authors were mistaken, they exaggerated for a host of reasons, or they outright lied. One very good example of the pitfalls of relying strictly on period documentation to form conclusions was seen recently in a (brief) conversation we had on Frontierfolk's gardening forum..... http://frontierfolk.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=23909 . (Note I said brief conversation. Why do these dialogues always seem to end when a pet doctrine is shown to be wrong?)

Anyway, yes, Alan Gutchess is right, but only to a certain extent. Weigh your documentation.
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David A. Schmid
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Real Name: David A. Schmid

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree Jim...as usual

What we in the 21st C screw up on is putting our own wants, needs and wishes in to the presented facts. Just as I suspect the authors of the times did as well. With the authors of the past, it may have been because of glory and fame that they wrote the basic story out of context. A white lie can be compared to a Tall tale. But..we have to trust what was written down to a point. Cause it is all we have with most documentation.
6 people could see a traffic altercation...6 people. 6 different stories..is 5 of them lying? no..that is just what they saw.
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nopaosak
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great post. I also liked Jim's post about dogbane on the other forum. I read it long before you posted it here buddy, I promise. I am not the best reenactor by a long shot, but the fun is in getting one thing right. Get one comment that is positive on something you worked hard to get right and you will feel great. Gearing the familt up for a Canadian civvy impression so I can combine this hobby with some quality campfire time for the kids. I have been using the search feature onseveral boards looking for patterns and documentation on mitasses, shirts etc. Going from Native to Canadian seems like an easy transition, but anything non PC is staying home. Less to carry in my opinion anyways. I got my canvas in barn red already finished thanks to a lot of the people here, too bad it leaks like a sieve.

Don't quit due to what seems like an impossible mission, break the book into chapters and tackle one at a time. No sense in doing it all at once, ruins the journey.
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Jim Jacobs
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This is a great post. I also liked Jim's post about dogbane on the other forum. I read it long before you posted it here buddy, I promise. I am not the best reenactor by a long shot, but the fun is in getting one thing right. Get one comment that is positive on something you worked hard to get right and you will feel great. Gearing the familt up for a Canadian civvy impression so I can combine this hobby with some quality campfire time for the kids. I have been using the search feature onseveral boards looking for patterns and documentation on mitasses, shirts etc. Going from Native to Canadian seems like an easy transition, but anything non PC is staying home. Less to carry in my opinion anyways. I got my canvas in barn red already finished thanks to a lot of the people here, too bad it leaks like a sieve.

Don't quit due to what seems like an impossible mission, break the book into chapters and tackle one at a time. No sense in doing it all at once, ruins the journey.

Agreed, Nopaosak, and it helps to keep in mind that it's all a work in progress. Hopefully anyway, you're better than you were ten years ago, and you're not as good as you will be ten years hence.

I'm glad you got something out of the dogbane post. I thought it started to become poised to break some new ground and I'm disappointed the thread died. A lot of object lessons there to think about. Maybe we can pick it up again here.


David A. Schmid wrote:
I agree Jim...as usual
What we in the 21st C screw up on is putting our own wants, needs and wishes in to the presented facts. Just as I suspect the authors of the times did as well. With the authors of the past, it may have been because of glory and fame that they wrote the basic story out of context. A white lie can be compared to a Tall tale. But..we have to trust what was written down to a point. Cause it is all we have with most documentation.
6 people could see a traffic altercation...6 people. 6 different stories..is 5 of them lying? no..that is just what they saw.

Yup, there's the dilema, which is why it's important to have more than one primary source, and to carry it a step further, optimally the primary sources should be widely varied in their perspectives and you should be able to identify the biases of the authors, part of which stems from knowing something about their background, and the more you know the better. This will better enable you to discern the raw facts from the embellishments.

I also think it's significant that our assumptions about Croghan's descriptions of wild hemp growing in the Wabash valley, as well as his claim of coal mines just below Ouiatenon, were blown out of the water by non-primary sources.... first-hand/experimental knowledge of dogbane, modern botanical descriptions of dogbane, and my own extensive surveys/scouts of the area below Ouiatenon.

Yes, I agree that primary research should be the foundation for what we do, but maybe it's not a matter of whether we should use non-primary sources of information as well, but rather how we should learn how to use them wisely in conjunction with primary sources.
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Jim Jacobs
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One other thing.... does anyone else find it a bit ironic, if not a bit humorous, that some of the strongest proponents of disregarding all but primary sources are themselves non-primary authors? On that head, when I open a book and see that the Author holds a Master's Degree or a Doctorate and that his book has an extensive bibliography citing numerous primary sources, I wouldn't help but feel a bit arrogant in assuming that his work holds little value for me in my own relative ignorance.
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nopaosak
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hahaha, they should just say, "I wrote a book and it is a waste of your time."

Maybe the best resources would be item by item books listing just the actual sources and quotes from them rather than all the boring in between analysis. Though some authors have a better hand for it than others. I must say though, you can search a few forums and get info that is pretty much a list of first person docs for things.
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Isaac
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Joined: 21 May 2007
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Location: Ouisconsing, Pays d'en Haut
Real Name: Isaac Walters

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Jacobs wrote:
and that his book has an extensive bibliography citing numerous primary sources, I wouldn't help but feel a bit arrogant in assuming that his work holds little value for me in my own relative ignorance.


I am confused on what you mean here. I may be reading this wrong; but personally, I like detailed bibliographies. This is where I often find out about a book/source that is new to me, and it is one of the first things I read/look at when I pick up a book.

Giving quotes and leaving out the personal interp... I am a fan of the interp, even when boring. It helps me think and rethink what the sources mean, as well as put it into a larger context. Isn't that the bulk of what we all talk about (at times bicker about) here on these boards? Anyway, I have read books that give me a whole new thought on a topic that I have read and read and read over. The facts remain the same but the interp varies... that variation is where we learn... isn't that why our practical experience in living history is so great, because we can apply this to the sources to create our own interpretation.

Isaac

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David A. Schmid
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Real Name: David A. Schmid

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

after all of the reading I have done...with only a portion of the grand puzzle put together...I am still and will always wonder what it was really like.

I put together a persona, develop the physical image....but there is always something missing...deep inside of me there is something that I missed.
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Jim Jacobs
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nopaosak wrote:
Maybe the best resources would be item by item books listing just the actual sources and quotes from them rather than all the boring in between analysis. Though some authors have a better hand for it than others. I must say though, you can search a few forums and get info that is pretty much a list of first person docs for things.

An example that immediately comes to mind is Jim O'Neil's Their Bearing is Noble and Proud, I and II. Yes, these are very useful as reference books, and I'd like to see more like them. Having said that though, reference books can be an excruciatingly dry read cover to cover, and there is a lot to be gained from an author's perspective on the material he presents, if done well, even when you find yourself disagreeing with his assessment.


Isaac....
Quote:
I am confused on what you mean here. I may be reading this wrong; but personally, I like detailed bibliographies. This is where I often find out about a book/source that is new to me, and it is one of the first things I read/look at when I pick up a book.

Sorry, it was late when I wrote that. I meant, given my own relative ignorance and more limited abilities, I would feel a bit arrogant turning my nose up at a Book because it's not a primary source, when I see the Author has a Master's degree or a Doctorate and I see by his bibliography that he's done an extensive amount of research. I might or might not agree with his interpretation, but I don't delude myself that I could do better research.

When I see a book that looks like it deals with a subject that I'm interested in, the first thing I look at is it's synopsis and table of contents to confirm that it really might have the information I'm looking for. The second thing I look at is its bibliography to see how well researched it is. The third thing I look at is the Author's credentials. If all three of these are good I take the book as a useful research tool. If all of these elements aren't there I might still read the book, but I'm more apt to view it as recreational reading.

And of course, a good bibliography is invaluable for the leads it provides in doing your own primary research.


Quote:
Giving quotes and leaving out the personal interp... I am a fan of the interp, even when boring. It helps me think and rethink what the sources mean, as well as put it into a larger context. Isn't that the bulk of what we all talk about (at times bicker about) here on these boards? Anyway, I have read books that give me a whole new thought on a topic that I have read and read and read over. The facts remain the same but the interp varies... that variation is where we learn... isn't that why our practical experience in living history is so great, because we can apply this to the sources to create our own interpretation.

I absolutely agree.


Quote:
after all of the reading I have done...with only a portion of the grand puzzle put together...I am still and will always wonder what it was really like. I put together a persona, develop the physical image....but there is always something missing...deep inside of me there is something that I missed.

Same here Dave. But I think that's what keeps things fresh, the eternal quest.
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David A. Schmid
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Real Name: David A. Schmid

PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:35 pm    Post subject: quest.... Reply with quote

to me..this is more than a quest..more than a hobby...my passion for history, I don't understand why it is so strong with in me.
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Isaac
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Real Name: Isaac Walters

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:51 am    Post subject: Re: quest.... Reply with quote

David A. Schmid wrote:
to me..this is more than a quest..more than a hobby...my passion for history, I don't understand why it is so strong with in me.


Because you are a freak. Oh wait... did you write that or was that me. Hmmm... history obsession...

Hello my name is Isaac W. and I am addicted to history

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We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.
Aldo Leopold
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Jim Jacobs
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:07 am    Post subject: Re: quest.... Reply with quote

"Because you are a freak."
For some reason I don't think I could have gotten away with saying that. Maybe it's because I developed a healthy respect for Novacain when my 18th century smile started rotting. Who knows?

All in the spin, Dave. You call it obsession. I call it a quest. If we were really in the 18th century our quest would be the 21st, or we'd be reminiscing about ancient Rome, if we were lucky enough to have the time to indulge in escapism. Society only evolves because we're not happy where we're at.
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Isaac
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Real Name: Isaac Walters

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obsession is what my wife calls it. She say, rightly so, that everything I think of gets put into a historic context. It is funny because it is so. I don't do everything in my life historic. In truth, I can't or wouldn't want to; BUT... I can't help but think of history with everything I do. AND... when I can get my modern life and historic interests to intersect or even parrallell each other... COOL.

Ike

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We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.
Aldo Leopold
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David A. Schmid
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Real Name: David A. Schmid

PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:00 am    Post subject: Freakism Reply with quote

non history People ask me why I do what I do...my canned answer is:

The past had their ups and downs, just as we do today. Same problems as us, time has allowed us to handle things differently, imagine someone in the 17th C in a modern car driving 70 miles an hours? The dude would freak out! The past calls to me because the issues are the same as today, just different~ we haven't changed as a people in 1,000 years...it was a different time..not easier by an means..just different, a different I can handle..

Yes...I am a freak~I have excepted this..thanks to Issac!
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nopaosak
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am just getting the passion back. I needed some time to be able to appreciate it again. Doing without for a year makes it easier to say goodbye to items that I would have hung on to in the past but were not accurate. The trick will be figuring out what my wife will wear since she was a british camp follower previously and only some of her garments will be acceptable. I will be starting to make some orders in the near future.
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