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Historical reenactments can deepen our relationship to history

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 06: British troops prepare to land in Boston as part of Revolution 250 staging 'Boston Occupied' marking the 250th anniversary of British troops landing in Boston in 1768, on October 6, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Hundreds of re-enactors staged events over the course of two days in which British troops attempt to put an end to Colonists' protests over taxation without representation and the beginning of the Revolutionary War. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
Paul Marotta/Getty Images
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British troops prepare to land in Boston as part of Revolution 250 staging ‘Boston Occupied’ for the 250th anniversary of British troops landing in Boston in October, 2018.

This hour: historical reenactments. We look at the role reenactments play in helping us understand or experience history. We talk with reenactors about what draws them to this and what their experiences are like.

Plus, reenactments aren’t just about the acting but the costumes and the props. We hear from a tailor who creates custom clothing using traditional materials and methods to create true-to-history costuming.

And: a look at experimental archeology and the stone-aged tools used by our predecessors. How were those tools made? And by recreating them, what can we learn about history, evolution, and psychology?


  • Michelle Bebber: Co-director of The Kent State University Experimental Archaeology Laboratory
  • Metin Erin: Co-director of The Kent State University Experimental Archaeology Laboratory
  • Ian Graves: Tailor and owner of Royal Blue Traders, specializing in American Revolutionary War clothing
  • J.R. Hardman: Associate producer at PBS Utah and a Civil War reenactor who is directing and producing the documentary Reenactress
  • Brad Keefer: Professor of history at Kent State University and an active Civil War and colonial period living historian

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired September 8, 2022.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.
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