Rules for Temporal Anthropologists

For those of you thinking of pursuing a career as an Temporal Anthropologist, you may want to read this first. This is from a handout issued by the Institute of Time Travel on our first day of training for a Time Travel License. Many immediately drop out after reading this. I'm not sure if it is the brave or the foolish who stay.

Dr. Wendell A. Howe

Rules for All Temporal Anthropologists
As Issued by the Institute of Time Travel

To avoid all possible Time Manipulation incidents, whether intentional or accidental the following rules must be obeyed at all times.
(1.) Only Licensed Time Travelers will be allowed to travel into the past.
(2.) All time trips must be approved by the Institute. You will only be allowed to go to a year you have been trained to fit into.
(3.) All trips to the future are strictly forbidden.
(4.) All Time Machines are owned, operated and maintained by the Institute. It is illegal for anyone other than the Institute to own, operate or maintain a Time Machine of any kind. The Time Machine you are issued will be preset for you so you can return by pushing a button. No other controls are accessible. Any attempt to remove a panel and tamper with the equipment will lead to fines and imprisonment (usually life).
(5.) 27th Century devices are not allowed in the field unless approved and deemed necessary by the Institute. Any devices must be camouflaged to appear as a period object. All future technology must be on your person at all times, or in your locked Time Machine. Guard them with your life. Do not let them fall into the hands of the natives of the past, no matter how cleverly disguised.
(6.) When in the field (the past) you will dress appropriately for the period and for your persona. You must not wear anything that will make you look odd or stand out.
(7.) You will be provided with period money or barter items. You will be given enough to live comfortably on. Do not live extravagantly as to call attention to yourself, unless it is necessary for you current project and is approved by the Institute.
(8.) Your personal computer will have a bio scan so you can do self examinations and be given first aid advice. If seriously injured or sick, you can return from the field at any time. It is not advisable to go to native healers. They will not have the technology to tell you are from the future, but they will have enough lack of skill to cause you grave injury or death.
(9.) You shall return by the set return date. You may return earlier, but never later. If you do not return it will be assumed you either ran into trouble, you are dead, or you are trying to run away into the past. The Institute’s Enforcement Agency will come after you to either save you, retrieve your body and equipment, or arrest you.
(10.) All Licensed Time Travelers must undergo sterilization before they will be allowed in the field least they bring someone into the world that was not meant to be there.
(11.) Sexual relationships are forbidden in the past despite sterilization. By taking a spouse, mistress or lover you may prevent them from being with the one they were meant to be with and thus preventing someone from being born. Also such relationships can influence and change the life of your significant other. Visits to brothels are allowed, as long as you do not keep returning to the same establishment or prostitute. You must have no affect on the lives of anyone involved.
(12.) You shall not have a platonic relationship or friendship with anyone in the past, since you will have an influence on them and this could change history.
(13.) You shall not use excessive force and cause serious injury to anyone in the past. You will use the least amount of force necessary to protect yourself. You will do everything in your power to avoid confrontation.
(14.) You shall not take the life of anyone in the past, or save the life of anyone in the past.
(15.) You shall not give charity of any kind to anyone in the past.
(16.) You shall not do anything to change the mind or attitude of anyone in the past. You will politely nod, no matter how unsavory the persons opinion is to you.
(17.) You shall not have a conversation that could in anyway influence, encourage or be remembered. Speak only when necessary to others in the past. Be polite and speak when spoken to, for being rude will make you stand out. Keep conversation to a minimum and only about the most mundane things like the time or weather.
(18.) You shall do everything in your power to remain unnoticed while in the field. If deemed necessary you will agree to plastic surgery to make your appearance more unmemorable for your era of study. You will need to pass all tests on being inconspicuous before given a license. You will be a face in the crowd.
(19.) You must not be gone for more than two months. Whenever you return from the field you will be debriefed. You shall agree to wear a Compliance Disk and you will answer all questions. You will tell everything you did and said. Nothing will be considered too trivial or private. You may then return to the same place and year with the approval of the Institute if they feel you have done nothing to be noticed by anyone.
(20.) You shall always cooperate and give immediate compliance to the Enforcers, obeying what ever they ask of you.

These rules are to protect Time from being manipulated in anyway and the history of the past changed. Even the most insignificant action can have dire consequences. Any breaking of these rules can lead to probation, suspending or revoking of License, imprisonment or whatever action is deemed necessary. These rules are for your protection as well as the rest of society. When in doubt take no action which could disrupt the natural course of history.

Leave No Footprint in the Sands of Time


  1. These rules seem to imply that only men are allowed to be Temporal Anthropologists. Your anti-fraternization rules have a male gender bias, and such gender biases were eliminated centuries ago.

    We visit Victorian England, we are not from there.

    Cambridge must keep up with the times. This is the 27th century!

  2. I love this! I Googled temporal anthropology and came up with this post! I know it's a couple months old, but I totally fit the bill and would LOVE to be a Time Traveler. Too bad we can't have friendships :(. Just stick me in the 1850's and I'll 'try' not to talk to Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Louisa Alcott, Whitman, or Dickens. Oh, well. :) Meg North aka born again Victorian... http://megnorth.blogspot.com


Due to bots sticking ads into the comments I am now forced to moderate. Differing opinions are welcomed. This is history, which is the surviving written record, which may or may not be accurate. I will even allow comments pushing other books or websites as long as they are relevant.