Re-enacting difficulties recruiting?

Joined
Dec 2, 2018
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#1
https://theweek.com/articles/794473/decline-civil-war-reenactor
Read this recently and wondered if other parts of the country are experiencing this loss of history being handed down.
We live in northern California and when I looked into joining a CSA unit, we were looking at a three hour drive for any activities as far as training and general socialising.
Interest is so vague in our area now, (gold country, Sierra foothills) that the Constitution Day celebration and parade no longer feature any ACW re-enacting. "Too divisive", I was told. Truly sad to me. I hope this is not a trend nation wide.

Edited; modern politics.
 
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Story

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#2
Relevant -
Americans are losing interest in the Civil War—or at least they are losing interest in learning about it and visiting historic battle sites. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the country’s “five major Civil War battlefield parks—Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg—had a combined 3.1 million visitors in 2018, down from about 10.2 million in 1970.” Gettysburg, America’s most famous and hallowed battlefield, drew fewer than a million visitors last year, and just 14 percent of the visitor total in 1970.

In addition to fewer tourists, the number of Civil War re-enactors is also declining. Many are growing old, and younger men are not stepping in to replenish their ranks. As one 68-year-old re-enactor, who recently helped organize a recreation of the Battle of Resaca in Georgia, told the Journal, “The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.”


https://thefederalist.com/2019/05/2...-civil-war-battlefields-part-disturbing-trend
 
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#3
So for 2,000 years a man nailed to a cross is still being used as an inspiration for many and what it was truly like back then but now celebrates a better future. Overcoming divisiveness by sweeping the bloodiest war on our soil under the carpet to pretend it never happened? Slippery slope! Bleaching our stained history will only serve to hurt coming generations and give them "delusions of grandeur" about how our nation came to be. In HG Wells' novel the "Morlocks" consumed the clueless "Eloi"
Blame the media/politicians/colleges etc. for making the younger generation (and older ones too) think they are being "divisive" when in truth they are teaching history and even how NOT to solve a civil problem! They also need to see those Brady pics of rows of bloated dead men in a field because the cliché about "history repeating itself" is a wise one. Reenactors reinforce the lesson of the Civil War and is 3D theater! Captain Marvel's civil war and it's ilk are the "fantasy" they are being taught.
 

thomas aagaard

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#4
Stop blaming young people.
Reenactment cost a good deal of money.
Every statistics point to the fact that a 30 year old american got less money today than a comparable 30 year old had in the mid 80ties to late 90... (where Gettysburg 135th could gather 26.000 reenactors)

Wages have gone up way less than expenses. (especially healthcare and College cost a lot more than 30 years ago)

And no, that is not modern politics, just facts that have a direct influence on the number of reenactors.

Debating why, or who to blame would be modern politics...
 

archieclement

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#5
Stop blaming young people.
Reenactment cost a good deal of money.
Every statistics point to the fact that a 30 year old american got less money today than a comparable 30 year old had in the mid 80ties to late 90... (where Gettysburg 135th could gather 26.000 reenactors)

Wages have gone up way less than expenses. (especially healthcare and College cost a lot more than 30 years ago)

And no, that is not modern politics, just facts that have a direct influence on the number of reenactors.

Debating why, or who to blame would be modern politics...
Amen on the affordable heathcare act......apparently 4x what it was before is "affordable"and still rises every year
 
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#6
Stop blaming young people.
Reenactment cost a good deal of money.
Every statistics point to the fact that a 30 year old american got less money today than a comparable 30 year old had in the mid 80ties to late 90... (where Gettysburg 135th could gather 26.000 reenactors)

Wages have gone up way less than expenses. (especially healthcare and College cost a lot more than 30 years ago)

And no, that is not modern politics, just facts that have a direct influence on the number of reenactors.

Debating why, or who to blame would be modern politics...
Lots of retiring guys I'm sure are selling their CW gear cheap. Nitpicking new recruits doesn't help either.
So you don't think young people watching those monuments that were there for 100 years being vandalized and/or removed doesn't affect their attitude towards the Civil War? You can't have Fred without Ginger so reenactors only wearing blue for a battle won't work.
30 years ago we didn't have those expensive "devices" to stare and play video games and post selfies on constantly or "safe" spaces either.
 
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#7
Re-play Burns Civil War series and voila, tourists will come, re-enactors will re-appear and civil war artifacts will be priced completely out of range !!
 
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#8
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#9

thomas aagaard

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#10
30 years ago we didn't have those expensive "devices" to stare and play video games and post selfies on constantly or "safe" spaces either.
yes we did.
It was called an Amiga 500 or a Commodore 64.
What we today call a PCs was also out by the late 80ties.
(We got our first in 1990, a intel 486.. and I have been playing games ever since... but that dont stop me from being interested in history)

By 1998 (that had the biggest Gettysburg reenactment ever) the internet was something plenty of people (including me) used on a daily basis.

And if you want to complain about schools. Who decide on the funding for schools? You, the adults who have the right to vote do.

If you think schools don't do their job well you only got yourself to blame.
 

unicornforge

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#12
My experience may not be the same as the experience of other people, but my experience with local reenacting groups is that leadership is really really poor at communicating with both members and potential members. One example is a group leader that puts over a dozen religious postings each and every day, but absolutely zero postings about upcoming events, and only periodic emails reminding that an event is coming up, but no information about the event setup, schedule, location, registration, etc. Sadly, other groups seem to provide even less in the form of communication.

Another group in the area, I went up to it's leader to talk to him, he turned away with his feet propped up and ignored me.

And then there is the cavalry group that I was invited to participate in their training weekend. Last I heard the group claimed a perfect safety record, even though I was thrown, had the horse flip over onto me, and step on my inner thigh crushing it, just an inch or two from my family jewels. I had warned them that I had no clue about riding a horse before hand. ..... And years later I saw a leader of a cavalry group (not sure if it was the same group) punch a horse hard in the head at a reenactment.

I've talked to a number of people who have stopped reenacting who have lots of stories about bad experiences in reenacting.

Bottom line, in my opinion for what little it is worth is that, in my humble experience, people are discouraged from reenacting and living history by lack of communication and poor experiences.
 

7thWisconsin

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#13
The economy effected reenacting more than any other force. Piled on top of its impact are years of media saturation, the mainstream v. c/p/h conflict, and other social controversies. Many Civil War reenactors have also left that time period to do others; I have friends who are still very active reenactors, but who now do French and Indian, Great War and WW2. I believe that the model of public battles on public land is nearing the end, if not at the end, of its utility, and Civil War reenactors need to look to private events at private venues. There was a time when we were basically the only game in town, and could show up at any county park and use their facilities, or any local parade and march. I think those days are over. How many local amateur theater groups march in a parade? Or amateur adult sports leagues? See - they know that what they do is not really right for those venues. There will always be people reenacting the American Civil War. I'm still alive and I'm one. But we need the model to evolve.
 

captaindrew

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#14
Honestly I'm really getting sick of the negativity. I'm involved with 3 units and they all have some great young people getting involved. How in the world do we keep them excited and encouraged about the hobby when all some of us do is gripe that it isn't what it used to be and it's dying. There's still plenty of reenactors around and plenty of good quality events to enjoy the hobby and put on a good show. I've been in the hobby on and off since the early 80s and have seen a lot of changes. Today while the numbers certainly aren't what they were in the heydays of the mid to late 90s I truly believe the quality is much better and the folks in it now are really doing a great job with their impressions. So lets please look at it with a glass half full and enjoy what we have and do our best to get some young people involved. If we don't it will go away.
 
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#15
Honestly I'm really getting sick of the negativity. I'm involved with 3 units and they all have some great young people getting involved. How in the world do we keep them excited and encouraged about the hobby when all some of us do is gripe that it isn't what it used to be and it's dying. There's still plenty of reenactors around and plenty of good quality events to enjoy the hobby and put on a good show. I've been in the hobby on and off since the early 80s and have seen a lot of changes. Today while the numbers certainly aren't what they were in the heydays of the mid to late 90s I truly believe the quality is much better and the folks in it now are really doing a great job with their impressions. So lets please look at it with a glass half full and enjoy what we have and do our best to get some young people involved. If we don't it will go away.
Bravo! Well said!
 
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#16
So, I am pasting here a link to the website for a podcast titled "Uncivil." This particular link is to an episode titled "The Soldiers."

You can download this podcast on the podcast platform of your choice. However, this website provides the option to either listen to the podcast or else reach the transcript.

This episode transcript is about the negative experiences that some females have had at Civil War battlefields as they attempted to participate in re-enactments as soldiers.

For the re-enactors here, are the perspectives presented in this podcast (or the written transcript) consistent with your personal experiences at re-enactments? Are females actively discouraged from participating in re-enactments as soldiers?
 

captaindrew

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#17
Females are strongly encouraged to participate in our bunch in whatever role they choose. We have a young lady in our bunch who is one of our best soldiers and looks much more the part than us old fat guys. I've been trying to talk my other half into taking the field but she'd rather walk around in her hoop. Being she is a nurse by trade she will go out as an ice angel on hot days along with another one of the wives and is greatly appreciated by the guys. We have to be family friendly to keep it going.
 
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#18
@Forks of the Ohio - Albeit this movie has a slight religious spin to it a few times , which can be viewed as how most women felt strong in their faith in the 1860's, this 2019 movie is a fine one and can be found on Amazon and Walmart or pay for view on Youtube. It would behoove male reenactors who may have an attitude towards females in their unit to reconsider as well as researching and finding that about 400 women fought as soldiers for various reasons such as looking for their husband or avenging a loved ones death.
 
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#19
I wouldn't say that our reenactment group has difficulty recruiting younger participants. It's retention that seems to be the issue, or getting consistent participation. Plenty of people express interest, and few events go by without that newbie on the field with powder on their face as they're initiated into the hobby, but how often they come back can be an issue.
 
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#20
The cost of reenacting is, in my opinion, exorbitant. Retaining the younger folk is difficult when they go off to college. But I do think that this is cyclical. Maybe in a few years, it will bounce back when people start looking for answers to the "whats & whys" of their day. Maybe...
 



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