#Alarmed! 18th Century Social Media

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Buckman Tavern
April 2017-December 2019


Networks. Posting. Sharing. Memes. These may sound like buzzwords describing 21st century social media, but all had their equivalents in the 18th century, some with the same names.

In a time of candlelight and horse drawn carriages, there were many sophisticated communications networks in place. Taverns like Buckman Tavern in Lexington played an important role, providing places for people to discover and share information.

Lexington Historical Society’s new exhibit #Alarmed! 18th Century Social Media explores how news went viral 250 years ago, and lets visitors imagine how colonials might have made use of our modern media tools to kick start a revolution.

Located on the second floor of the tavern and open with a regular admission ticket seven days a week, the exhibit contains nearly a dozen interactive activities. The exhibit team of Susan Bennett, Rick Byer, Stacey Fraser, and Lauren Kennedy hopes that visitors engage with the exhibit in both analog and digital ways.

Mass Humanities sponsored a consulting scholar, J. L. Bell, who is a savvy social media user in his own right. He writes the blog Boston1775.com and is active on Twitter, which made him an excellent fit for #Alarmed! The Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati provided additional funding for the exhibit.

Local Boy Scout Pierce Warburton, member of troop #160, earned his Eagle Scout badge by building a replica colonial bar for #Alarmed! David Bogdan, Chris Kauffman, the Lexington Minute Men, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and The Printing Office of Edes + Gill at Old North Church provided exhibit materials, photo opportunities, documents, and printed materials.