[ANSTHRLD] Oral history and writing it down.

Hillary Greenslade hillaryrg at yahoo.com
Thu May 10 18:06:19 PDT 2007

Interesting read the last few day. 
I understand Robin and Serena's frustration that what was considered, as stated 'common law' is
either no longer remembered or inconsistently used. I'm thinking the cause is in part based on the
heraldic oral-history and training one received, or perhaps the region one lived in that had
limited access to hearing or seeing those traditions.   

Some 20 years ago, when I began playing, there was no such thing as the internet, the rialto was
very limited; you got your information verbally at events, meetings and via the mail, in the local
and kingdom newsletters.  I still have handouts that were created in memeograph print, for those
that know what that is.  Event meetings shared new policies and reinterated current ones, and
those that attended carried that information back home to their branches and shared it verbally.
Oral tradition was very much the standard.  An SCA generation was also longer, folks played
between 5-7 years, before leaving us, if they did.  

Ansteorra will be 30 years soon, many of our senior/elder 'fill-in-the-blank' (Heralds, Scribes,
Seneschals, Crown) are no longer around, having retired from the SCA.  I'm told a current SCA
generation is 3 years.  If that oral tradition and common law knowledge has been broken, then it
will be lost if it's not written down.  We don't have to put the 'rules' into Kingdom Law, the
College of Heralds Admin. handbook, or similar, is just as good.  

I'm encountering a similar situation in the College of Scribes, where elder scribes know it was
always done this way or that - but they're not playing or rarely; so oral history has not been
passed along to newer scribes or those from other kingdoms have no way of knowing the Ansteorran
guidelines, policies and procedures, not just laws; if we don't write them down and make them
available to the masses.  Good starts have been made with the College of Heralds Admin Handbook
and the various articles online, with more articles and updates in the future, that can educate
our populace in order to retain those traditions.   

If you think about it, we're our own little micro-history petrie dish.  The Vikings and Celts had
an oral history to educate those that came later; while stones were carved little is know of a
formal written history.  Later, scribes began recording in written documents the will of the
kings, till eventually the general masses knew the law with the advent of printing and it's
general availability.  In it's near 30 years, I think Ansteorra is in that writing stage, as
traditions and ceremonies nearly forgotten are needed to be recorded for all to learn and remember
when the Robin's/Serena's/Hillary's are no longer around to remind them. 


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