Minute Man Living History Authenticity Standards

men and women in working class colonial garments
REVOLUTION 250 - This is the living history cast of Boston 1767: The Devil and the Crown. This group represents part of the "mob" that would turn out every November 5th. In the year 1767, they mocked and intimidated British Customs Commissioners who had just arrived to enforce the Townshend Duties.

NPS Photo

The people we portray through living history can no longer represent themselves. They deserve our best efforts. Participants in living history events and programs hosted by Minute Man National Historical Park are required to dress in as an appropriate manner for Eastern Massachusetts,1775 as possible. Western frontier and native dress are not acceptable; this includes hunting shirts, fringe, beads, Native American or rifleman accessories/accoutrements and a general “buckskin” appearance.

No anachronisms such as: cameras, cell phones, cigarettes, plastic items, wrist watches, modern jewelry, sleeping bags, coolers, non-period glasses or sunglasses, etc., will be used in sight of any visitor during hours of operation.

For safety and authenticity purposes clothing must be of natural fiber such as wool, linen or cotton. Polyester, nylon, Velcro, or other synthetic fabric presents a safety hazard and may not be worn. Any modern accoutrements such as company pins, logos, nameplates or any other paraphernalia are not authentic to the period may not be worn.
volunteers portraying a 1775 minute company at North Bridge

Men's Clothing

Facial Hair: Beards and moustaches (and goatees, soul patches, etc.) are not appropriate for 18th century New England and may not be worn by anyone engaged in 18th century living history at Minute Man NHP. A maximum of 3-days’ stubble is permitted. Anyone who appears with a full beard, moustache etc. may not participate.

Frock coat or workman’s jacket is required for all cilvilian and military impressions: of wool or linen (flax or hemp). 18th century men of all social classes would not go out in their waistcoats and shirtsleeves. Farmers smocks are acceptable if portraying a farmer or tradesman at work, but absolutely will not be allowed for military impressions. Militia/minute companies may not take the field in matching coats, or uniforms of any kind. Leather coats and frontier/rifle/hunting shirts (the garment with the cape and the fringe) are not acceptable.

Shirt and neckwear: long, full sleeved, closed neck with stock, cravat, or neck cloth: Linen, cotton, wool in white, natural, or checked. Laced-trimmed jabots and ruffled stocks sold by several sutlers are not acceptable.

Waistcoat: wool, linen, cotton (or silk if appropriate to the overall impression). Necessary with frock coat, optional with buttoned workman’s jacket.

Breeches: wool, linen, leather, or cotton (or silk if appropriate to the overall impression). Trousers are acceptable as part of a lower class impression. Fringed suede frontier-style trousers are not acceptable.

Stockings: over the knee, wool, cotton or linen (or silk if appropriate to the overall impression), white or colors, held up with leather or cloth tape garters. Horizontally striped stockings and athletic socks are not allowed.

Shoes: period-style leather shoes with buckles or 2 hole lace up, black or brown (appropriate modern leather shoes may be worn if covered with gaiters)

Gaiters: Farmer’s half boots or half gaiters of dark brown or black wool, or linen canvas may be worn over period style shoes. The gaiters must fit closely about your calves and ankles. Baggy or droopy gaiters will not pass muster. Knee length F&I style gaiters are not appropriate.

Hat: Must be worn out of doors. Cocked hat (civilian or military, depending upon your particular impression,) uncocked hat, knitted cap, workman’s cap. Leave your hat undecorated, meaning no feathers, plumes, pipes or bits of dead animals.

Knapsacks: Knapsacks are recommended for militia impressions. Market wallets and work bags are also appropriate, as is the use of your pockets. Haversacks were military camp equipage for carrying rations and not appropriate for civilian and militia impressions. If you portray a minute/militiaman or colonial civilian, you may not wear a haversack.

Proper Fit:
The fit of clothing was extremely important to the 18th century person. Breeches should fit snugly around the leg and knee band, and should not be too long (i.e., the knee band should close about three fingers’ width below the knee cap - and not extend down the calf). Coats should fit well about the body and should move with you unlike modern coats where you move within the coat.
Woman in a flower print colonial dress stands in a field

Women's Clothing

Sleeved outer garment: such as gown, jacket, caraco, bed gown, or riding habit of wool, linen, or cotton (or silk if appropriate to the overall impression). Because of the difficulty of obtaining period-appropriate prints, it is recommended that you avoid prints unless you have studied them in detail or can find exact replicas (such as Williamsburg replicas though not all their offerings are authentic); paisleys, cabbage roses, and 19th century calicoes are not correct. The sleeveless so-called “French bodice” and “English bodice” are not acceptable. A sleeved outer garment is required.

Petticoats: recommended 2.5-3 yards in circumference, longer than mid-calf; high-ankle/low-calf suggested. At least one petticoat with full-length gown; otherwise at least two. See above concerning prints. Print petticoats are only acceptable if worn with a gown or jacket of the same fabric.

Shift: low necked, sleeves reaching slightly below elbow. Linen, cotton, or wool in white or natural. Stays or Jumps: If wearing a fitted garment like gown, caraco or jacket, stays or jumps are necessary.

Neck handkerchief: recommended. Triangle or folded square of linen, cotton, or wool (or silk appropriate to the overall impression) in white, natural, solid color, or small checks, stripes or period block print. Shawls are not acceptable.

Apron: Wool, linen, or cotton (or silk if appropriate to the overall impression) in solid color or small checks or stripes. No eyelet or bibbed aprons.

Stockings: over the knee, linen, wool, silk, or cotton, white or colors, held up with leather or cloth tape garters. Horiontally striped stockings and athletic socks are not allowed. (As stockings do not show above low calf at most, plain modern knee socks are acceptable and garters are optional.)

Shoes: Period-style leather or cloth shoes with buckles or 1 hole lace up, black or brown (appropriate modern leather shoes may be worn if petticoats reach ankles or lower).

Cap: White linen or organdy. Acceptable cap styles are too numerous to list here, but “mobcaps” (a single circle of cloth gathered with a casing and/or elastic to form a ruffle) are not acceptable. Note that a plain cap with front band and gathered back is the simplest to make. A cap or hat is required except for fine ladies with dressed hair. No eyelet.

Hat: Low-crowned women’s style in straw, or felt, plain or covered; or bonnet. A cap or hat is required except for fine ladies. Flowers, and feathers should be avoided, unless doing a gentry interpretation.

Hair: Pulled back from the face and put up, or hidden with a cap. Long or thick bangs should be pulled back off the face. Obviously-dyed hair (a color not naturally occurring in hair) should be well-covered by a cap.

Make-up: If worn at all, should not be noticeable.

Cold weather gear: Optional. Period-pattern cloaks, mantles, tippets, hoods, etc. Wool kerchiefs. Woven or knitted wool, linen, or cotton (or silk appropriate to the overall impression) mitts, mittens, or gloves. Wool and/or fur muffs. Kinsale cloaks are discouraged as are Celtic pins and penannular brooches Wearing a men’s military uniform coat is unacceptable. To keep warm, we highly recommend wearing layers underneath your clothing where they are not seen. For example, silk or polypropylene long johns, and/or tights.

About lace: Eyelet and tatting are not authentic to the period. Crochet is not acceptable in any form (lace, shawls, etc.). Machine-made lace is acceptable if it is in imitation of period-style lace.

Baskets, market baskets and workbags: Baskets should be made of wood splint or willow,; metal parts are discouraged. Also use of pockets is strongly encouraged.


Children's Clothing

Babes in arms: Shirt or shift, and cap, of linen, cotton, or wool, in white. A frock and petticoat are optional but preferred. Shoes and stockings optional. If plastic diapers are used, cover with a cloth.

Young children: (unbreeched boys from toddlers through age 3 to 7 and girls from toddlers through early puberty) shift of linen, cotton, or wool, in white or natural with a child’s frock (back closing for either gender / front closing for boys only) and petticoat. Cap and / or hat for girls (optional but preferred), workman’s cap or uncocked or single cocked hat for boys (optional). Stockings, as for women. Period-style shoes; due to the expense of children’s shoes, any black or brown leather lace-up modern shoes are also acceptable. Shoes and stockings are optional but strongly recommended.

Last updated: January 9, 2018

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Mailing Address:

North Bridge Visitor Center / Park Head Quarters
174 Liberty St.

Concord, MA 01742


(978) 369-6993

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