Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Cynthia A. Conides

First Reader

Cynthia A. Conides

Second Reader

Noelle J. Wiedemer


People around the world have been fascinated with recreating the past since antiquity. Over the past century, however, the presentation of historical information using various forms of human interaction and animation has gained increasing attention, at least in the historic site community if not largely accepted among academic historians. Utilizing a number of non-traditional tools to create a multisensory experience for visitors, this “living” history aims at entertaining the public while providing insights into the past not easily gained through more academic means. Further, there have been many sites, particularly those with a military theme, that have chosen to utilize volunteer “reenactors” to augment their regular programming. Encompassing everything from small military encampments to large-scale mock battles, the subject of reenactment has been both popular and controversial.

This thesis will evaluate to what degree military reenactment is an effective tool in interpreting the history of past events. To do so, one must begin with identifying the major principles of historic interpretation, as they have evolved over the past seven decades, providing important definitions along the way to lay the proper groundwork for the study. Within the larger realm of historic interpretation, a survey of the subtopic of “living history” and its employment at historic sites will provide further context against which to examine the use of reenactment to achieve the goals of both.