A new spin on an old idea

If you have watched much news on television lately, then you have undoubtedly heard of Twitter. Twitter’s rapid growth and new role in breaking news (such as “Twittering the USAirways Plane Crash” and “SoCal earthquake a powerful reminder of Twitter’s potential”) has garnered a lot of attention for the service. Some have said that the nature of Twitter (all posts must be under 140 characters) is a side effect of a generation with a continually shorter attention span. However, the idea of writing short quips of information is not something new, and one Twitter account is bridging the old and the new. It is offering a different window into the humanities.

The Twitter account that I refer to is @Genny_Spencer. The story behind the account is what makes it particularly interesting. While going through some old things of an elderly family member, David Griner’s (@griner) family came across a line-a-day diary for his great-aunt that began in 1937 and lasted until 1940. This diary follows the format of posting a short quip every day. Most of the posts are informational, as opposed to emotional, and shed some light onto the lifestyles of a bygone era. Here is an example of one of the posts:

Donald Hardin came. Mamma washed. Planted potatoes. Aunt Dolly and Uncle Aaron here. Virginia Lee too. -April 3, 1937 (See it on Twitter here.)

This Twitter account gives a view of history that you don’t typically see in history books in school. It shows what life was like for people growing up in this particular time period leading up to World War II. I was particularly surprised to see a post about King George’s coronation, something that I didn’t realize interested a young teenage girl in rural Illinois. Here is my favorite post so far:


For more information, be sure to check out David Griner’s blog post about this Twitter account here.

Written by: Drew C.