Alumnus participates in historical re-enactment of Quantrill’s Raid

Posted on Aug 23, 2013 in Alumni News and News

On Aug. 21, a group of Lawrence community members participated in an unusual event: a live re-enactment of the infamous Quantrill’s raid in 1863 using the very modern technology of Twitter. Historians, social media enthusiasts and local actors researched characters from the past and gave them voices through a series of tweets.

Richard Noggle, g’08, participated in the project because of his enthusiasm for Twitter, yet found that that it led him deeper into local history and raised ideas about memory, historical trauma and ancestral connections that relate to his academic work in American literature. “Researching my character took me to the Spencer Library to look at a small collection of his papers and to Watkins Museum, where I found a letter written by his daughter just a few days after the raid,” he said. The letter helped place his character, Dr. Prentiss, at actual locations during the raid.

1863-Commemorate-LawrenceThe social media event’s hashtag, #QR1863, trended globally on Twitter, and the live-tweet garnered media coverage from sites including the Washington Post and Boing Boing.

Noggle said the event succeeded not only as an unusual and attention-getting social media project, but also as a real-life community bonding event. “Most of the tweeters were together in the ‘war room’ at the Carnegie Building during the event, and it was a mix of local actors, historians, amateur history buffs, townies, technology geeks– people who might not normally cross paths,” he said. Some of the participants even portrayed their actual ancestors– from both sides of the battle.

The community project was a collaboration among Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, Watkins Community Museum, the Lawrence Public Library, Lawrence Arts Center, 1863 Commemorate Lawrence and the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. Visit www.1863lawrence.com to learn more about the project, and check out www.kuhistory.com for more information about the raid and its impact on the future University of Kansas.

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