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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is TwHistory?
  2. How do I follow a TwHistory reenactment?
  3. How do I set up my own reenactment?
  4. How can I use TwHistory reenactments in my classroom?
  5. How can I find out about upcoming reenactments and other TwHistory updates?
  6. My question is not listed. How do I get other answers about TwHistory?

1. What is TwHistory?

The TwHistory project began in early 2009 with the first Twitter reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg over a period of several weeks. TwHistory is based on the idea that historical reenactments can take place online and have positive effects for all involved. In school settings these virtual reenactments can increase engagement while providing opportunities for students to research personal journals and other primary source documents. In order to organize, study, and preserve these online reenactments we have created View past and current projects on our reenactments page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @TwHistory.

Twitter provides all the necessary elements for a recreating a historical event: actors, communication, relationships, and a timeline. Followers of Twitter reenactments get updates in real-time as the characters of a particular historical event communicate, or “tweet” about what is happening. In a TwHistory reenactment, people are assigned to historical figures in a particular event. They prepare and schedule a series of messages, or “tweets,” describing the event from the perspective of the historical figure, using primary source documents. The messages from the various characters in the event are triggered chronologically and result in a virtual reenactment that can be shared with others via the Internet.

In any historical reenactment it is often the actors who get the most benefit, and this is no different with Twitter. And just like traditional reenactments, TwHistory projects have the potential to draw a large audience. Spectating Twitter followers often retweet favorite messages, drawing additional followers to the reenactment. Interest has grown steadily, attracting historians and hobbyists alike. The TwHistory project has attracted the attention of the UNESCO Chair in E-Learning at the Open University of Catalonia, as well as the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. TwHistory has also been used to teach the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of a Cold War History class at a high school in Missouri, and there is similar interest from educators in Switzerland and Germany.

2. How do I follow a TwHistory reenactment?

There are three things you will need to do to follow a historical event on TwHistory.

  1. Sign up for a Twitter account
  2. Find an easy way to follow your tweets
  3. Follow the historical characters

Twitter Account

The first thing you will need to do is sign up for a Twitter account. This is free and easy. Just click here and follow the steps. Once you have an account, come back here and move on to step two!

Following Tweets

You can follow tweets by going to your twitter page, but we recommend using an extension that will make it even easier. If you are using FireFox as your browser, then a good tool is TwitterFox. Simply click on this link, click the ‘add to firefox’ button, and restart Firefox. You will now be able to follow your tweets by clicking on the lower-case ‘t’ in the lower right-hand corner of your browser. If you run into any problems, check out their handy how-to guide here.

We also recommend services such as Seesmic or TweetDeck.  Both of these applications allow you to follow groups of friends. If you put all of the historical figures you are following in one column it becomes very easy to see what is transpiring in history.

Follow the Historical Figures

You’re almost there! After you have logged into Twitter, you will want to go to our reenactments page, and follow each of the historical figures. Simply click on each name, click the follow button, and their tweets will appear in your TwitterFox, as they are updated.

3. How do I set up my own TwHistory reenactment?

Here is some documentation to help you get started with their own TwHistory reenactment.

  1. Basic description of the TwHistory project (PDF | Word)
  2. Explanation of how to set up a reenactment (PDF | Word)

4. How can I use TwHistory reenactments in my classroom?

Here is an example TwHistory teaching unit shared by a teacher who did the Cuban Missile Crisis (PDF | Word).

We are working on a system to make this all much easier, so we welcome your questions and feedback. In the meantime, please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help. Happy tweeting!

5. How can I find out about upcoming reenactments and other TwHistory updates?

Go to our Stay In Touch page and enter your email so we can send you periodic updates on the TwHistory project, including new reenactments and new site features. We have a lot going on here, so we’ll try to send out a monthly update.

6. My question is not listed. How do I get other answers about TwHistory?

Don’t see your question here? Contact us!