Historical reenactment is really what launched me on my study of heritage tourism, American culture and
mythology, and most of the other work I'm doing now. After a chance encounter with Civil War reenactors in
Gettysburg in 1989, I found I couldn't stop wondering what they were doing and why. Eventually I joined up
(translation: did a two-year participant-observation research project as part of my M.A. degree) and spent
a couple of seasons marching around portraying a Yankee fifer boy named Horace. The rest, as they say, is history -
or at least it's words about history.
||Click on the picture for a PDF version of my 1997 master's thesis,
"Being the Elephant: The American Civil War Reenacted".
(The file is about 9 MB, so it may take some time to load.)
||Click here for a link to an
ethnographic report I wrote in 1999
for the National Park Service on Revolutionary War reenactment activities
in U.S. national parks.
Other reenactor-related scholarship and links
- While I was conducting my thesis research, I was a fellow-traveler with three
Massachusetts reenactor groups:
- In addition to the unpublished work on reenactment above, I've published:
- with Stephen Belyea, "'Their Time Will Yet Come': The African American
Presence in Civil War Reenactment" in Hope and Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Martin Blatt,
Tom Brown, Donald Yacovone, eds. (University of Massachusetts Press, 2001)
- "Battle Road 2000," review article, Journal of American History (vol. 87:3 , 992-5)
- And some other good sources on historical reenactment are:
- the incomparable archive of "Jonah World"
pieces by longtime practitioner and "scourge of Civil War reenacting" Wes Clark
- the Camp Chase Gazette, the more
or less official voice of Civil War reenacting in the U.S.
- the wonderful "Civil War Redux" portfolio of pinhole photographer
Willie Anne Wright of Richmond, Virginia
- Historica, a next-generation reenactment
organization co-run by my Australian friend and colleague Stephen Gapps, who is working on integrating
scholarship, reenactment, and event management (you can also read Stephen's Ph.D. thesis, "Performing the Past : A Cultural History of Historical Reenactments", online)
- Reenactor.net, an enormous site covering many historical periods (Roman legions, anyone?)
- Minute Man National Historic Park's page on the annual Battle Road commemorations on Patriots Day each April
- the American Civil War Historical Re-enacting Society, which is actually Canadian (based in my
home province of Ontario)
- for more on the little instrument of pain known as the fife, and its co-conspirator the drum,
visit the Company of Fifers and Drummers, or this site about the famous Basel Fasnacht carnival