Living History: February 2004

Living History: February 2004

Winter's best bets for celebrating your heritage and reliving history.

Food on the Table
 
 
What do your family’s food traditions say about you? Find out at the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit Key Ingredients: America by Food, coming to the Tooele Pioneer Museum in Tooele, Utah, through Jan. 24; the Vermilion County Museum in Danville, Ill., Jan. 9-Feb. 20; and the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City, Utah, Jan. 31-March 20. Through artifacts, photographs and illustrations, Key Ingredients examines the historical, regional and social traditions in America’s dining rooms. You’ll learn how ethnicity, social class and landscape have influenced the foods you and your ancestors have eaten. Key Ingredients is part of the Museum on Main Street, an initiative to bring Smithsonian exhibits and educational programs to rural areas, and to spotlight local museums’ collections. For a complete tour schedule through 2008, visit the Key Ingredients interactive Web site at <www.keyingredfents.org>.

St. Louis, Mo.: Road to Rediscovery

Two hundred years ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out from St. Louis on what would become the most famous cross-country road trip in American history. Under the instructions of President Thomas Jefferson, the duo traveled up the Missouri River to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory, On their way, they collected plant, mineral and animal specimens; mapped the continent’s interior; and blazed relationships with American Indians. Now, you can follow the Corps of Discovery’s epic expedition through the Missouri Historical Society’s Lewis & Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, Jan. 14-Sept. 6 at the Missouri History Museum. The exhibit captures their transcontinental journey with more than 600 relics, including the letter of credit from Jefferson to Lewis, American Indian artifacts given to Lewis and Clark, plant specimens, the explorers’ personal items and more. For details, call (800) 916-8212 or visit <www.lewisandclarkexhibit.org>. And if you can’t make it to St. Louis, the exhibit also will travel to Philadelphia, Denver, Portland, Ore., and Washington, DC, through September 2006. For more on visiting St. Louis, see page 58.

New York City: American Indian Aesthetics

For centuries, American Indians used baskets to carry their babies, prepare their meals and store their goods. Though no longer in daily use, these beautiful works of art represent the rich culture and history of native peoples. Through Jan. 9, 2005, you can see more than 200 exquisite baskets at The Language of Native American Baskets: From the Weavers’ View, an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan. The exhibit focuses on the process of basket making, rather than the finished product, and compares and contrasts the materials, shapes and designs used by different tribes. Admission is free. For; details, call (212) 514-3700 or visit <www.americanindian.si.edu>.

Mobile, Ala.: Party Hardy, Y’all

If you have ancestors from Mobile, Ala., chances are there’s Mardi Gras in your family history. You can hardly set foot in Mobile without being reminded that its Mardi Gras celebration, which kicks off Feb. 6 this year, predates the better-known revelry in New Orleans. The first Mardi Gras was held in 1703, just a year after Mobile was founded, and the parades began in 1830. Candidates for Mobile’s Mardi Gras royalty must descend from a member of a previous royal court. You can see the elaborate costumes they’ve worn, often with components passed down through generations, at a new Museum of Mobile exhibit, Mardi Gras Mobile Style, Jan. 28-March 1. The museum’s trove of Mardi Gras gear is second only to its Civil War collection, and takes up almost as much space: After all, the trains on some of the costume dresses are as long as a room and weigh 80 pounds or more. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students. For event details, call (251) 208-7569 or visit <www.museumofmobile.com>. By the way, a new museum devoted exclusively to Mardi Gras is under construction across the street. —David A. Fryxell

Alexandria, Va.: Turning 272

This February, join in the fun at Alexandria’s monthlong George Washington Birthday Celebration. Take a Sunday walking tour of sites linked to the first president, attend the all-day Washington Symposium Feb. 7, and watch living history demonstrations at Fort Ward Park Feb. 15. On Parade Day, Feb. 16, attend a re-enactment of Washington’s Farewell Address and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution. The celebration wraps up on Feb. 22, Washington’s actual birthday, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and a children’s event at The Lyceum, featuring Colonial costumes, 18th-century dancing and, of course, cake. For more information, call (703) 991-4474 or visit <www.washingtonbirthday.net>.

Deerfield, Mass: Remembering the Raid

In the early morning hours of Feb. 29, ] 704, French army officers led 240 North American Indians in an arrack on Deerfield, an English settlemenr in The Connecticut River Valley. During this historic Queen Anne’s War attack, the aggressors killed 50 colonists and took 112 to an Indian settlement near Montreal. After a ransom was offered, some colonists returned to Deerfield, while the rest chose to stay among the Indians. This year, Deerfield will commemorate the raid’s tercentenary with a number of public programs, beginning with Commemoration Weekend, Feb. 27-29. Events include living history activities, concerts, English and Indian dance, village walks and more. That weekend, the Historic Deerfield museum also will open a yearlong exhibit, Remembering 1704, which will examine French, English and Indian artifacts (shown at right) and perspectives on the attack. Call (413) 774-5581 or visit <www.histotic-deerfield.org> for event details. And if you can trace your family to the French, English or Indians involved in the attack, call (413) 775-7176 to learn more about the Deerfield Descendants lineage society.

From the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine

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