Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why


Collecting Your Group's History

There are different ways to collect your group's history, but here's a suggestion for a project that can be worked on by many different people, in a disorganized and haphazard way, and still be ever closer to perfection:

Make a form for each month, back to your group's first meeting (or before, if there are things to tell). We're using a form like this:


Month__________ Year________ A.S. _________
King and Queen_____________________________________
Prince and Princess _________________________________
Major events: (include changes of officers, group foundings, change of status, awards, births deaths, significant firsts, oddities, etc.)

(then the whole page blank until the bottom says:)

Mark Lasie, AElflaed and lovely assistants


The "prince and princess" line is used for the time the Outlands was a principality and we have forms without it for before and after principality days. When we come across dates and details, we're going to the book these pages are in and filling them in. If items aren't in order on a page, or we have to use the back, or attach a second sheet, at least it's in a chronological order by months. If we were rich or if my family owned an envelope factory, the ideal set-up would be to have the form printed on the outside of a 9x12" envelope, and chronicles, documents, clippings and photos could be slipped inside. We might end up with an envelope for each year.

Our best resource has been newsletters, but you need to check things with real people, too. Especially as you get back to single-digit SCA years what's in the newsletter may not be exactly what happened. Events used to be moved around and planned and executed before another newsletter could come out (at least in Atenveldt) so don't consider newsletters to be the Final Word. Try to get verification on everything, including award dates. Occasionally a list from heralds or royals does have a typo, and you might check with the recipient or someone who was there to double-check the date.

Orders of precedence don't usually do a great job of showing, on a coronation day, what came from whom. In olden days kings sometimes gave awards right at coronation - their own coronation. It hasn't happened in our kingdom for a while, but it may in yours. It's interesting for a history to show who gave what, and in what order. Orders of precedence sometimes list people in alphabetical order, if all other things are equal, so if Zeke is knighted in the morning and Abe at night, Abe might show first in precedence. A history project can unearth such trivia and save it for Someday. Keep the current month up, too. It's harder to think it's really important, but if it's being written as things happen, you'll get better detail (and maybe even some quotes).

For resource purposes, try to keep in mind those people who keep diaries and journals, or whose calendars are full of birthdays, events, meetings, etc. Don't ask if you can borrow the diary, but you might be able to check with them about exactly which day something happened.

Having work sessions will be fun and productive. Pick a year and invite people over for a pot luck. Stories can start to flow, and someone can take notes. By the end of the evening you'll have the whole year in detail, and holes can be filled in with a few phone calls to non-present experts.

Ask people which event was their first. Write them down in the history-"Vagn's first event." It might not seem like something worth recording, but in five or six years, Vagn may be a kingdom officer, a knight, or a duke, and the question will come up. Ask the first-event crowd to tell you what they remember about that first revel or tournament. Their memories will be vivid, and probably they remember who was doing what aside from court and field, because they were coming in with such a fresh perspective. They'll remember what contests took place, whether there was a bardic circle, etc. I remember some of the foods at the first event I attended, and some of the questions from the quest, and the maypole ribbons, and what the weather was like. Later events aren't stored as specially as that one is.

If the notebook of one-page-per-month history is never turned into prose or poetry, it's still a useful resource. You might note on each item what the source was for checking later (and certainly mark those which are estimates or guesses so they can be verified later).

An excellent way to get more people involved and have the history in public view is to produce a "five years ago this month" (or ten or fifteen) sort of column in the local or kingdom newsletter. People will see their names and might give you more information in hopes of seeing their names again. It will be in the newsletter, and therefore in more people's homes, for the next history project.



Copyright © by Sandra Dodd, 1991
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