17 Aug

December 9 – A Historic Holiday: Pomanders, putz houses, and historic board games

Pomander (1500x500)
photodump_jan2011 043
Board Games 2
Maybe you think they were only goofing off, but History Lab learned a lot about

A Historic Holiday, that is, Pomanaders, putz houses, and historic board games

Sunday, December 9th, 1PM to 4PM - FREE

Turn off all your screens (except the one you’re reading this on)

As historians studying the lives of people who lived in and visited the Neill-Cochran House, we want to know more about what fun was like, for example, in 1876 or in 1905. Just like we learned earlier this year in Make it yourself, fun activities can also be productive activities; even though people had to work to make many of the objects in their houses, the task of making these things could be quite enjoyable.

We chose pomanders and putz houses for this very reason. While they’re both homemade, they were also functional. Pomanders, while decorative, were also useful in repelling insects, freshening rooms and clothing, and preventing mold and mildew. Christmas putz played an important part in families’ holiday celebrations (sometimes even surpassing the Christmas tree in popularity) and could be saved and reused for several years.

But not everything had to be productive! The history of game play pre-dates the Neill-Cochran House by thousands of years. Did you know that hopscotch dates to 500 BC, knucklebones (aka jacks) might be much, much older, early variants of chess appeared beginning in 400 AD, and that the game we know as Monopoly was actually copied from the Landlord’s Game, a game meant to teach about the perils of allowing wealth and land ownership to be concentrated in the hands of a small part of the population?

As you can see, in the lab, we found out quite a bit when we decided to take a break and do some research about what people have been doing to relax and enjoy themselves in 19th and early 20th century Austin (as well as the last few thousand years).  But we need your help to understand how these historic games and pastimes compare to the likes of Minecraft, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds.

End of the Semester Crazies?

Sounds to us like a good time to try some old-fashioned amusement to relax and re-focus. This Sunday, we invite you to take a break from your 21st century entertainments and visit our veritable house full of games and crafts fit for a 19th century Austinite. Have a board game you absolutely love (but are ok with sharing with other players)? Bring it along and make some new friends!

Questions about this or any other event? Let us know–we promise we won’t play games with you (unless you come over this Sunday).