Recently, I came upon an old online newsletter published by the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc., dating back to February, 1997. In it is the story of Jas. Townsend and Sons, Inc., probably the largest and most complete source for reproductions of clothing and implements used in colonial America in the 18th century. This is the company that has outfitted many notable historic sites and villages, including the interpreters at Washington’s Mount Vernon. Their catalog and website are where reenactors shop. To read their story, click here.
The author was none other than James Townsend, the president of the company. His story of the founding of the business goes back to 1973, when young retailers often started selling through brick and mortar locally, and mail order catalogs nationally. What actually drew me to this company was their YouTube channel, where I found a large number of videos covering so many topics of life in the 18th century. This channel has almost 421,000 subscribers and 602 videos available for viewing. Are you curious about what people ate and drank, and how food was prepared in those days? Do you want to know more about the clothing worn back then and how it was made? Would you like to learn from a host of reenactors, how people lived, worked, and survived day to day? Heck, there’s even a video on the subject of personal hygiene!
If you’re interested in 18th century life beyond the simplified history found in textbooks, then viewing videos on this channel will be time well spent. After you’ve watched a few, leave a message in the comments and tell me if you agree.