Living History: December 2003

By Leslie Stroope Premium

New York City: Pet Event

From feral beast to four-legged “baby,” discover the history of city-dwelling pets in the New-York Historical Society’s Petropolis: A Social History of Urban Animal Companions, on exhibit through Nov. 2. Highlights include sculptures, paintings, photos, artifacts and hands-on exhibits examining the history of pet ownership, from the 17th-century view of Fido as a wild animal to the luxury pet services offered in many urban centers today. While you’re there, wander over to Urban Oasis: The Greening of Early New York, also running through Nov. 2. This exhibit explores the history of New York’s public parks from Colonial times to the present using maps, guidebooks, historical prints, paintings and newspapers. For event details, call (212) 873-3400 or visit <>.


Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Heritage Festival

Enjoy 619 square miles of celebration as Rutherford County, Tenn., turns 200. In honor of its bicentennial, the county is throwing a birthday party and Heritage Festival on Oct. 25. You can hear Civil War-era music and story-telling on the steps of the county courthouse, watch re-enactors take aim on the Stones River National Battlefield and learn about plantation life at the Oaklands Historic House Museum. Root for contestants at a turnip-greens cook-off, explore the collection of historic publications at a working 19th-century village or go on walking tours of downtown Murfreesboro’s historic districts — Main Street is held up as a model of commercial district revitalization efforts. The Heritage Festival is free and open to the public; however, some museums may charge a small fee. Call (615) 893-6565 or visit <> for more information.

Atlanta, Georgia: Clothes Make the Woman

Aphorist Mason Cooley once wrote, “Clothes make the body both mysterious and historical.” Learn about the histories, mysteries and controversies of Atlanta’s women in the Atlanta History Center’s Gone with the Girdle: Freedom, Restraint and Power in Women’s Dress exhibit. It features clothing, photos and accessories spanning from Atlanta’s days as a frontier outpost to the present. See female pilots’ flight suits, mourning accessory kits and bicycling ensembles from the 1890s (because of their association with the suffrage movement, many women preferred these suits over bloomer outfits). The exhibit runs Nov. 1-April 18; call the history center at (404) 814-4000 or visit <> to learn more.

Dauphin Island, Alabama: Southern Christmas

Christmas 1861 was the first holiday season under the shadow of the Civil War — but that doesn’t mean your ancestors didn’t do their best to celebrate. See how, Dec. 6-7 at the 19th annual Christmas at the Fort at historic Fort Gaines, south of Mobile, Ala., on scenic Dauphin Island. A letter home from James M. Williams, who was stationed at the Confederate garrison with the 21st Alabama Infantry Volunteers in 1861, provides the blueprint for this re-enactment. You can visit with “Papa Noel,” sample holiday treats cooked over a campfire in a Dutch oven, and see candlemaking and blacksmithing demonstrations. Young “soldiers” will get to make seashell ornaments. During the Civil War, Fort Gaines guarded Mobile Bay and was a target of Union Adm. David Farragut’s famed “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” assault. Today, its tunnels, bastions and even kitchens look much as they did in the 1860s. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for ages 5 to 12. For information, call (251) 861-6992 or see <>.


Seattle, Washington: Nordic Yulefest

Slip into some clogs and head over to the 25th annual Nordic Yulefest, Nov. 22-23 at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle’s Ballard District. It’s the only US museum that honors the legacy of immigrants from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Enjoy folk dancing and traditional Scandinavian carols while stuffing yourself with such goodies as aebleskiver (small puffed pancakes), hot spiced wine and Scandinavian beer, Vendors will sell handcrafted items including Viking art, Norwegian sweaters, framed paper cuttings and more. While the kids are creating colorful ornaments, check out The Dream of America exhibit, which uses photographs, oral histories and artifacts to re-create the immigration of early 20th-century Nordic people to America and the Pacific Northwest. Admission is $2. Call (206) 789-5707 or see <> for event details.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Tourist Takeout

From Dusseldorf to Disneyland, tourists have lugged home souvenirs from their travels for centuries. The Milwaukee Public Museum highlights this impulse throughout history in Tourist Takeout: A Taste for Souvenirs. The exhibit’s artifacts include a glass cane made to be tossed and broken in celebration of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, a walrus ivory pin from Alaska, an 1880s dance mask from Borneo and, of course, a cap topped with mouse ears. The exhibit is open now through March 2004, and is free with admission to the museum. Call (414) 278-2702 or visit <> for more information.
From the December 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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