The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA.org) is an international, non-profit, educational organization dedicated to researching pre-17th century history through a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach to re-creating the arts, skills, and traditions of that time period. The goal is to learn through doing. Doing and sharing ones subject knowledge with others.
The SCA encourages members to study every aspect of pre-17th century life and take part in a variety of activities. There is something for everyone to do as our areas of interest are as varied as the cultures we study: heraldry, knighthood, manuscript illumination and calligraphy, archery, armor making, costuming, jewelry making, needlework and sewing, theater, poetry, combat, archery, dancing, singing, cooking, brewing, metalwork, woodworking, equestrian arts, and much more.
What makes us different from other forms of education is the active participation in the learning process. We take an approach different from most study groups. Rather than just reading about history or just viewing artifacts in a museum, we research aspects of history and attempt to produce the items associated with the research. For example, after researching armor, we then make actual replicas of the armor, which we use in re-creation of combat. We also offer classes to our members of various topics dealing with our studies and research in the arts, crafts, technologies and sciences of the Middle Ages.
Our organization's name explains a lot about us. An anachronism is something that is out of its proper time frame. In this case we are re-creating the Middles Ages in the modern world. The creative part comes from how we approac this re-creation. It has been said that the SCA recreates the Middle Ages "as they should have been". And while it is true that we forego things like plagues, inquisitions and fleas and do utilize modern indoor plumbing; a better description is that we selectively recreate medieval culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us.
The Origins of the SCA
The very first event of what would become the Society for Creative Anachronism occurred in 1966 on the first of May, when a few friends who were history buffs and science fiction/fantasy fans hosted a costume party in a Berkeley, California backyard. Inspired by the "Last Tournament" held in 1839 at Eglinton, Scotland, the invitation for the party encouraged those who "love chivalry," to dress in the manner of any age "in which swords were used" and attend an "international tournament" of knights seeking to uphold the honor of their ladies.
While no more than thirty people attended this first event, among those who did were Diana Paxson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, her brother Paul Edwin Zimmer, and the family of Paol Anderson, all of whom would go on to become prominent fantasy and science fiction authors.
Everyone enjoyed the first tournament so much that the group decided to hold another event at a local park in order to allow for greater attendance. Park regulations required the group to register with an official name. Since their goal was a creative interpretation of the Middle Ages in the modern world, Marion Zimmer Bradley offhandedly called the group the "The Society for Creative Anachronism." Little did they realize that this spur-of-the-moment invention would stay with their group far into the future.
After the second event, word of the SCA quickly spread via friends and science-fiction fandom. There were total of 6 events held in the first year, and 9 in the second. By the time the S.C.A. held its second Twelfth-Night feast in January of 1968, the organization already had the outline of a social structure based upon tournament combat. The winners of tournaments were to be Kings for a term, with the ladies they fought for as their Queens. Individuals who held the crown twice were called Dukes while accomplished fighters could became knights. Individuals who excelled in non-martial arts, "without whom our Society would not be half so pleasant," could join the nobility through the Order of the Laurel by giving some cultural substance to the modern game, and for having the specialized knowledge necessary to do so.
By 1969, the third year of the society, the East Kingdom was formed on the East Coast of the United States, and the SCA was incorporated as a non-profit educational organization. Founded on the belief that the hands-on learning provided by the re-enactment of selected aspects of medieval life would lead to a real understanding of the medieval world, the stated purpose of the new corporation was to facilitate the member's research into pre-seventeenth century culture; A mission that the SCA has fulfilled right up to the present day.
Since the humble, backyard beginnings of 1966, the Society has expanded in size to include approximately 30,000 paying members and around 60,000 active participants in the nineteen kingdoms that cover the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa, and Australia. This "known world" is constantly expanding with new groups starting up all the time and pushing back the boundaries of what is unknown.
Becoming A Member
One of the nice things about the Society is that you are not required to purchase an SCA membership before attending SCA meetings and events. You will however need to be a member if you wish to hold an office in an SCA group, and some kingdoms require membership to participate in combat and combat-related activities or to be eligibile to receive awards.
Benefits of Membership:
Discounts on event admissions: As a member you will never pay the non-member charge at events.
Membership card: By signing the waiver on the membership application, you can speed your check-in at events by presenting your card instead of signing waivers at the door.
SCA Publications: Sustaining members receive their kingdom's newsletter. Sustaining/International members can also purchase subscriptions to other kingdoms' newsletters, Tournaments Illuminated (the quarterly magazine of the Society), the Compleat Anachronist monograph series, and the Board of Directors' Proceedings.
Voting privileges in your local group: The membership rolls are used when determining to whom to send pollings on group matters.
Memberships are acguired through the SCA, Inc. website. It may be purchased online by visiting membership.sca.org or can be printed and mailed from membership forms.
Note: This information is intended as an overview and is not meant to be complete or authoritative. Visit the SCA corporate website for the most up-to-date and complete information.