Lets Talk: Civilian Authenticity

I know this is a pretty specialized post that might not seem applicable to most of my readers. Most of us don’t get to be involved closely in Safety & Authenticity at WW2 events.

But as I was re-reading this questionnaire, which I wrote back in 2017 for the Rockford WW2 Days event, something occurred to me. Maybe participants would also benefit from thinking about these aspects of their impressions. Sometimes knowing in better detail what the S&A inspectors are thinking, can help us understand how to better meet the criteria as well.

Female participation in safety & authenticity, especially for those portraying non-combatant & civilians, is still rare at most events. Because we pose no direct threat to ourselves, other reenactors or the public, we are often overlooked. However, this is unfair. Civilians are just as vital to the full representation of the era as any male military role. We deserve to be included in authenticity, and held to equal authenticity standards. As you all know, I have long been a supporter of including civilians in all aspects of the hobby, from the exciting scenarios to the boring meetings!

However, with this inclusion comes some difficulty, especially for those tasked with inspecting the wide variety of nationalities, ages and impressions represented by the civilians at larger events. I have learned that it’s not always as simple as “right” or “wrong” when it comes to dealing with this variety. In fact, there are times when our own continued education, personal interaction with fellow reenactors, a bit of creativity and the willingness to offer help are more important than simply giving someone a “pass” or “fail” on their impression.

I hope that the following series of questions will be beneficial to other Safety & Authenticity inspectors as well as my fellow participants at WW2 events. As we continue to refine the role of women & civilians in the reenacting world, it is my hope that our teamwork will also enhance the entire hobby.

See you in the past!

Questions to Consider When Doing Civilian Safety & Authenticity

Chole White, 2017

Is it expressly prohibited by the event rules?


Is it something immediately and easily visible when looking at the person?
Is it something that would be visible if they took off clothing, such as a jacket or hat when going inside?
Does it pass the 15 ft, 10 ft or 5 ft rules?
Is it bright colored when it should be dull or vice versa?
Is it in the upper ⅓ of the body, around the face where people are more likely to be looking?
Is it mixing impressions that shouldn’t be mixed?
Is it missing vital parts?
Has there been an attempt to disguise or hide it?


Is it something that could be dangerous for the public or reenactor to wear?
Is it something that could be difficult to wear for long periods of time or in certain environments at the event?
Is it reasonable for the weather at the event?
Is it politically offensive?


Is it necessary for personal comfort or safety?
Is it medically necessary?
Are they under or over a certain age?


Can it be fixed right now?
Can it be removed?
Do they need help fixing it right now?
Did they need more time to fix it before S&A?
Can the right items be found at the vendors?
Are there loaner options that would be better?


How long has the person been reenacting?
How old are they?
Have you spoken with their parent / guardian?
Is this their own clothing or are they borrowing from someone else?
What unit are they with for the weekend?
How long do they plan to be at the event?
Can they provide references for wearing it?


What does another S&A member think?
Is this someone I personally know?

Does this person “pass” S&A?

<Download a copy of this Questionnaire here>

Cover Image: Penn State University Archives