For a number of months I have been researching the personal stories of US military pensioners who were living in Ireland in 1883. The vast majority of these men and women were Civil War pensioners, and it is my hope that I can publish a book in the future on their many and varied experiences.
As part of my ongoing commitment to digital engagement I decided that last weekend I would share some of these stories, originally researched and previously untold, on twitter. This took the form of a ‘tweetathon’- where a large number of tweets are focused on a single issue. Across two days I provided an introduction to the pension system and subsequently told the stories of 41 widows, dependent mothers and dependent fathers, broken up into byte-size 144 character chunks.
The reason I choose to engage in this way is because of the reach of these social media tools. My ultimate goal is to help develop a greater understanding in Ireland of the huge number of people from the island impacted by the American Civil War, and this is just one more tool to achieve that. However, I am also aware that many people do not like (or are not on) twitter, and may not have the opportunity to share in these stories. In order to rectify this I used the Storify service to create a readable and coherent ‘story’ of all the weekend’s tweets. Here each pensioner’s story can be read in sequence, with headings inserted to alert the reader to the specific individual they are reading about. In addition I have broken up the tweets with relevant videos and images that describe both the pension files and some of the locations and fates mentioned within the stories. If would like to see what this looks like, and read some of the 41 stories, you can do so by clicking this link: Storify- American Pensioners in Ireland.
I am interested to know what you think!