If you've got a history lover on your holiday list, the blogosphere has a lot of great suggestions for gifts, priced for any budget. Here's a top ten list of good ideas, including with some of my own:
1. Give a membership in a historical society ($35-65). From the Smithsonian Institute, to the Assocation for the Study of African American Life and History, there are a variety of organizations doing historic preservation work that offer memberships that come with invitations for special events and other privileges. Not only will you be supporting a worthy cause, your history lover will enjoy being part of a community of people with a shared passion for the past.
2. Give a trip to a living history site (cost varies). Almost everyone knows about Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia resort that offers a view of life during the US Revolutionary War era. But there are living history sites throughout the US. Experience farm life in the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s at such places as Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, New Jersey; or Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, or Iowa's Living History Farms. I've visited Howell and Quiet Valley, and I can attest that both sites are fun for the whole family.
3. Give reproductions of vintage clothing (price varies) My son, a Civil War and Revolutionary War re-enactor, introduced me to the Quartermaster Shop, which offers custom reproductions of military and men's civilian clothing, mostly from the 19th century. The cite also has a schedule of Civil War re-enactments that runs through 2008. Sarah, who blogs at Romantic History shared her experience of making a Civil War frock coat for her husband, using accessories from the Quartermaster Shop.
4. Song of America ($24.99 list price) Former US Attorney General Janet Reno and her nephew, Ed Petterson, put together, Song of America a 3-CD box set by a clutch of rock, soul and folk artists that offers a musical survey of American history. The link I just gave you goes to the myspace pages for the collection, where you can hear samples and find ordering information. Artists featured include John Mellencamp, Bettye Lavette, Andrew Bird and others. Of the myspace samples, I especially liked Mellencamp's cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" and Lavette's rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia." Nekesa Moody has an interesting interview with Reno that explains how the project came about.
5. T-shirt from the White House gift shop ($16.00) Thanks to Kat at Frugal Noodle for this distinctive, economical idea. Kat says, "[T]hey look really nice, and have the presidential seal..." If the T-shirt doesn't suit you, the shop has a host of other ideas.
6.Oh, Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments ($9.99) The Discovery Channel says this illustrated "encyclopedia" covers "people, events and really bad ideas."
7. Take-Off: All-American Girl Bands During WWII (book and CD, ages 10 and up) ($18.99) Author Tonya Bolden guides you through the surprising, entertaining and little-known history of female big bands in the 1940s. A CD is provided so you can swing along.
8. Roots: the DVD collection ($5.99-99.99) ( Earlier this year, BlogHer CE Nordette Adams recalled the 30th anniversary of the landmark TV miniseries that shaped the way a generation of Americans understood slavery and its legacy. The whole miniseries, including the sequel, "Roots: The Next Generation" is available as a DVD boxed set for $99.99. For $5.99, you can download individual episodes.
9. Boom! ($28.95) Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw's memoir of the 1960s is third on the New York Times Best-seller list.
10. History Channel Holiday Gift Finder. If you're still at a loss, the History Channel's gift finder might be the ticket. Give them some basic information, and they'll recommend gifts tailored for you.
Finally, if you're like me, you care about the accuracy of your historical literature and artifacts. Some popular books, such as the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, have been found to be notoriously inaccurate. The History News Network blog is a great source of authoritative and accessible information about such controversies. (For example, here's their search threadon the Politically Incorrect guide, which includes the views of critics and the author's response.)
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