Tweeple in History

John Quincy Adams on Twitter

I’m probably late about this one, but in trying to catch up on my e-mail this morning, after a week on the road, I ran across a WRAL story (John Quincy Adams tweeting thanks to MASS. Society) that Brenda forwarded to me, about the discovery of a series of John Quincy Adams diary entries.  From the story,

It seems John Quincy Adams was way ahead of his time.

A high school student touring the sixth U.S. president’s archives recently noticed his bite-sized diary entries looked a lot like tweets.

Starting last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Historical Society began posting Adams’ updates from two centuries ago onto Twitter.  His Twitter name is JQAdams_MHS and you can follow his daily tweets here.  So far, Adams has:

  • 8/5/1809: Saturday. Diary Vol. 3. begins: Sailed in Ship Horace, Benjamin Beckford, from Charlestown to St. Petersburg.
  • 8/6/1809: Thick fog. Scanty Wind – On George’s Bank. Lat: 42-34. Read Massillon’s Carême Sermons 2 & 3. Ladies &c. Sick.
  • 8/7/1809: Fog. No Observation. Spoke a fishing Schooner from Grand Bank, bound to Plymouth. Read Chantreau’s travels.

The WRAL article indicated that the Society would include a “presidential tracker” of sorts, linking maps to show Adams progress on a diplomatic trek to Russia as U.S. minister.”  However, I was not able to find this map.  If you know of its URL, please post as a comment.

The instructional applications of something like this are almost limitless.  Students can map the progress themselves.  Students might be asked to take the daily short tweets and expand them out into a longer diary entry in period or in contemporary speech.  They might reply to the tweets, or pretend to be part of the entourage and tweet out from there.  This, of course, assumes that you have the ability to unblock Twitter for the activities.

Here is the Beehive post (John Quincy Adams, Media Darling) on the project from the MHS.

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6 thoughts on “Tweeple in History”

  1. I’ve become a technologically resistant. There are so many ‘new’ technologies (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) that I’m resisting even learning about some of them. I find it hard to just remain current on email accounts (personal, business, organizations…) that I can’t add something else without neglecting the daily bath, it seems. However, after reading this article, I’m interested in Twitter now. Being able to be a trekker with a former president from centuries ago is very interesting to me! Thanks for the information.

  2. Nice stuff! What a great idea. Kudo’s to the high school student.It occurs to me that there are diaries of less famous people from the past often times kept in local archives and sometimes published by historical societies, geneology publishers, etc. It would be a wonderful project for students to bring to life the past of their own communities via tweets. Or perhaps take letters and responses from the past and edit into a tweet format. Students could do oral history projects and tweet the results. Hmm, you’ve got me thinking…

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