Living History Standards FAQ

These questions were among those submitted by volunteers during Minute Man's 3rd annual Winter Symposium, held on March 2, 2019. If you have any other questions, please send them to

Q; How do we know new rules won’t come out four weeks before the 250th?
A: That’s why we are starting now, 6 years ahead of time. This year, 2019, we introduced the new standards and the three year implementation plan culminating in 2022. Until that time, the new intermediary standards (which make allowances for cotton canvas and linen clothing, tin canteens etc. will be in effect for 2020 and 2021. They will not be strictly enforced in 2019.

Q: What standards are based on history, and which are deviations for safety?
A: Most of the standards were written to reflect common historical practice. However, there are a few items written for safety.
  1. Glass bottles covered with leather cannot be carried by soldiers because of the risk of breakage and sharp pieces.
  2. Hatchets: They are a period appropriate, though less common, sidearm for militia but for safety a sheath is required. These weapons are prohibited until more research can be done on period-appropriate sheathing.
Q: Is all this research being done from scratch? Aren’t there already professional/academic studies on this topic?
A: These standards were written and/or adapted from other sites, such as Fort Ticonderoga, and informed by the work of several scholars and researchers. We have included a resource page with lots of helpful information and primary research.

Q: How can you say that nobody wore _____________, did _____________, carried _____________?
A: We can’t. Proving a negative in history is nearly impossible. For example, we cannot say for certain nobody answered the April 19th alarm and went into the fight wearing a pink nightshirt. However it is highly unlikely. The standards are written, as much as possible, to represent what was most common. A good example is stocking colors. We are not saying nobody had or wore red stockings, or that the capability to dye stockings red did not exist. We are saying, based on primary source research, that red stockings seem to have been rare and therefore do not reflect what was most common, which is the goal of these standards.

Q: Was consideration given to those of us who aren’t professional tailors (like nearly everyone on the committee who gets paid to make the very things being mandated)?
A: All the members of the committee are serving as volunteers. We understand the requirement starting in 2022 of wool small clothes and outer garments will probably mean more people will be seeking out those with tailoring skills. However, the ultimate goal is to teach as many people as possible within our reenactment community to be able to make their own clothing. To that end, committee members and other dedicated volunteers will be generously offering sewing workshops over the next few years. Fees involved cover materials and time and are purely cost-recovery. The schedule will be posted on the park's website.

Q: How far will this go? What is the end goal? Will volunteers be kicked out for being overweight, infirm, elderly, or of the wrong gender or ethnicity because it is not accurate to “the day?”
A: While this question may seem rhetorical, in truth the National Park Service has the obligation to refuse a volunteer for any activity that could jeopardize their health and safety. The sole consideration here is safety. If, for example, someone cannot make the walk from the parking lot to the visitor center without needing to rest and catch their breath, should that person be allowed to run across a field or through woods carrying 30 pounds of military gear? We will be reasonable if you will. Regarding gender, race or ethnicity, we do not place any restrictions.

Q: Is the goal fewer but perfectly dressed reenactors? Does the crowd even notice?
A: Our goal is to make Battle Road an event we can all take pride in. Though it may seem counter intiutive, adopting and enforcing standards usually has the effect of increasing participation as more people/units want to be a part of it. Have faith in your fellow reenactors. And yes, the visitors do notice. They frequently comment how authentic everyone looks. They may not know the particulars but they know when a historical impression "looks right."

Last updated: August 18, 2019

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