Historian Plans to Tweet North Carolina's Civil War Experiences

By Tracey E. Schelmetic March 22, 2011

We have short attention spans nowadays. News is told in short snippets rather than long analyses. We flip through channels as if the couch is wired and we'll receive an electric shock to the posterior if the television stays on the same program for longer than three minutes. Teenagers aren't happy unless they're doing six things at once: text messaging, writing a school essay, tweeting, streaming music, posting on Facebook and watching television. So how do you learn anything nowadays that doesn't relate to Lindsay Lohan's latest indulgence in extra-judicial designer pharmaceuticals or which body part a Kardashian sister has had surgically refurbished lately?

A historian with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources thinks she knows the answer. She's going to tweet North Carolina's Civil War experiences, 140 characters at a time, reports the Associated Press today.

LeRae Umfleet is using a Twitter account to tell the story of North Carolina civilians during the war, using their words to describe the struggle. Umfleet is starting with passages from 1861, and will continue through the 150th anniversary of the conflict, which occurs this year.

“This is a great tool to understand the impact of war in their words, not ours,” said Umfleet, who is the collections management chief for Cultural Resources in a news release. “We hope that students, history buffs and cultural travelers will sign up for the tweets and the blog as the stories unfold,” she said.

A blog that goes along with the account contains the full citation for each message. One recent tweet quotes a North Carolina woman complaining that her sister is a staunch supporter of the Union. The quotes and viewpoints are drawn from contemporary papers such as letters and diaries.

Umfleet says the concise messages of Twitter are a good way to help modern audiences understand the effects of the war on civilians. And it's also a good way for a chronically attention-deficit populace to get a little history.

Her account is twitter.com/civilianwartime.


Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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