Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blogging from RWA National, Part 3: History Geeks on the Loose

Okay, so in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I'm no longer in DC but am safely home...but today's post is all about what Regina and I did on Sunday, after the RWA conference was over.

So what do a pair of history geeks do on a free day in one of the country's most historic cities, especially when joined by two other history geeks? They go to museums, of course...namely, this one. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History was a very cool place to spend a good chunk of the day, even for writers who spend an alarming amount of their waking hours thinking about England, not America.

First stop on the tour was the First Ladies exhibit, to see all of the "pretty things." By the way, that's a technical historio-
graphic term in case you were wondering, and should be used only by qualified history professionals. And yes, we were all quite professional as we squealed over Abigail Adams's slippers and her fake pearls a la Barbara Bush, as well as over Dolley Madison's silk gown beautifully embroidered with butterflies and dragonflies.

Here are Abby's pearls, along with an image I found of her actually wearing them (how cool is that?)

Please pardon my photography--the lighting in the exhibit halls is a little dim, though the same adjective might apply to the photographer as well.

And here's Dolley's dress:
And of course, this wouldn't be Nineteenteen without a pop quiz, so here you go: Is this dress from 1809, or 1909?

The answer is 1909--this was worn by Helen Taft at President Taft's inauguration--but all of us agreed that Mrs. Taft could have time-traveled to Almack's in this dress and not have made Lady Jersey bat an eyelash.

We had more fun in the American maritime exhibit pondering War of 1812 privateers (did you know those bad boy American privateers were on the prowl in the English Channel itself? Talk about bold!) and spent some time in the gift shop pondering the books (I got a great Dolley Madison biography and a book on lost crafts--look for me to be slipping some of that research into a future story)--and then Regina patiently indulged my closet space nuttiness with a quick visit to the National Air and Space Museum so I could hyperventilate next to the Spirit of Saint Louis and the Glamorous Glennis (the plane in which the sound barrier was first broken) as well as a real Apollo lander. Ecstatic sigh.

So that was our trip to Washington, DC...we'll be back to our regular blogging now, but we hope you had fun with us! Bye!


Sarah O. said...

There is far too little recognition for privateers, and far too much focus on pirates. I get especially mad when local tourist industries confuse or equate the two! Of course, the privateers I like are Nova Scotian or British. Sorry, Americans!

Are there any historical romances where the hero is a privateer? I'd be interested in that.

Marissa Doyle said...

Good question, Sarah. Is there any specific time period you're interested in? War of 1812, or earlier? I can ask around on the RWA writer loops.

Melanie said...

I definitely plan on going to The Smithsonian one day. It looks so fascinating! I recently did some research on The Spirit of St. Louis for school, so I'd love to see the plane in real life. Glad you had such a great time!

Amanda McCabe/Amanda Carmack/Laurel McKee said...

LOL! History geeks unite. :) It was wonderful to get to do the museums with you and Regina--you never tried to rush me through like those non-history friends do...

Dara said...

Oh I could spend hours or days in a museum! I am quite the history geek too and unfortunately not many members of my family share that same passion (my dad does, but he's more interested in military history).

QNPoohBear said...

Ooh the NMAH is my very FAVORITE museum! I did an internship there after I finished my undergrad. The First Ladies exhibit is one of my favorites as is Women in Reform. I haven't been there since they remodeled but if all of you cross fingers, toes, etc. I'll get a new internship in the archives soon. I will have to see that American maritime exhibit. Glad you all had fun!

Marissa Doyle said...

Dara, that's why it was such fun--four historical fiction writers all going into overdrive over crazy things like a combination saber and very, very tiny bore pistol, or scrimshaw corset busks, and so on. As Amanda said, we didn't rush each other!

QNPoohbear, I'll cross fingers and toes for you--what an amazing opportunity!

Victoria Janssen said...

It was great to meet you, Marissa, however briefly!

Sarah O. said...

@ Marissa:

I'm not really partial to any time! I guess I'm just all-around intrigued by the idea, and in discovering the sort of artistic decisions writers using the privateer angle make. If it isn't burdensome to you, I'd love to hear back about any books that may be out there.