What is Living History?



Living History is a loosely defined term, and yet it seems to be evolving into a serious discipline of public history programs.  Living history in some form or another tries to depict historical persons, skills, or events in a live action presentation. We break down the term "living history" into the following types or categories:

First person - The most demanding style of presentation, where the interpreter takes on the persona and role of a historical character, actual or a "typical" composite persona.  Elements include: period accurate clothing and other items of material culture, ability to discuss the period social, economic, religious, technical, and other knowledge expected of the person being portrayed, be able to accurately express the ideals, prejudices, superstitions, etc. of the period, and perform the program in such a way as to make the learning points desired to the public in a memorable and entertaining way.

Second Person - This is the typical craft demonstration or public participation in a period skill such as fire starting with flint and steel.   The interpreter does not attempt to role play a period character, but merely demonstrates the skill or craft, and may or may not attempt to discuss the historical significance or the other factors of the time period of the craft or demonstration.

Third Person - Also called the "costumed interpreter," it requires most of the elements of first person, but the interpreter does not attempt to role play in character as if it were the time period depicted.