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Update: December, 2001
The Glenns
  The Glenns.

Update from the field:
by Historians Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith

Frontier House Living

Almost immediately upon coming on board as historical consultants for THE FRONTIER HOUSE project, we began to receive frequent phone calls from Micah Fink, from Emily Ann, from Mark Saben, from Simon Shaw. Their queries sent us back into files gleaned from twenty years of research on western families; or onto the Internet to learn about and locate the most recent articles and books on the topic; or sometimes to other experts working in homesteading history, looking for such fairly esoteric bits of information as whether or not farm women of that time always wore their corsets, whether pre-adolescent brothers and sisters shared the same bed, whether there were anti-miscegenation laws in Montana Territory, and whether or not a married woman might really have been allowed to file a homestead claim.

In addition to being on call to the production crew, we were deeply engrossed in the intriguing assignment of creating "back stories" for each of the families chosen for the FRONTIER HOUSE project. Given the great diversity of the homesteading experience -- from those who first took up fertile land in Kansas and Nebraska under the original Homestead Act of 1862 to those who were still staking claims in the high plains in the 1920s and '30s -- it is difficult to profile a "typical" homesteading experience or a typical homesteader. The production crew needed some idea of who these pseudo-settlers might have been, had they lived back in 1883. Using insights gained from studying copies of the application forms and videotapes of the intake interviews of the three twenty-first-century families, facts gleaned over twenty-five years of studying the circumstances and motivations of westering families, and details obtained through a flurry of research into the politics, events, and general aura of everyday life in Boston, southeastern Tennessee, and Los Angeles from 1860 to the early 1880s, we shaped and polished nineteenth-century versions of each of our Frontier House families.

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"Our families were not to be actors working out scenarios devised by historical consultants. They were to be, quite simply, themselves."

Find out how these California girls made their own mascara 1880s style. Click on a photo to see it enlarged.

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