"Those who forget history are doomed to retweet it."
The cheeky tagline of TwHistory, an educational resource that helps students and teachers understand history through the modern medium of Twitter, speaks to a wider trend in the Twittersphere, where history is coming alive through the efforts of historians, groups and individuals with a Twitter account and a passion for history.
"To be sure, there's no time machine that can take you back to London during The Blitz, or to the White House Situation Room as JFK stood firm against belligerent military leaders wanting to engage the Soviets over surreptitiously putting nukes in Cuba," a 2012 cnet.com story said. "But these days, in little 140-character snippets, many of those moments are being played out for the whole world to see. And if you close your eyes, you can almost imagine you're there."
Alwyn Collinson, a recent graduate of Oxford University, who runs one of the biggest historical feeds on Twitter — @RealTimeWWII — said his goal with the project is to help readers share that feeling of being there as historical events unfold.
“I still get dozens of tweets every day from people who say, ‘I forgot I was following World War II, and I suddenly thought the Germans were about to invade Holland,’ ” Collinson told The New York Times. “That’s exactly the effect I want: to convey the fear, the uncertainty, the shock. That’s what it was like for the people who lived through it.”
While some historical accounts like Collinson's are still working on their ambitious projects, others have fallen by the wayside or concluded their run. Still others — like the real-time Titanic account — are revived at appropriate times on a yearly basis.
On this 69th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, here's a look at 20 Twitter accounts — working, ended, and/or paused — for the history buffs of the 21st century.
>> In this file photo from June 6, 1944, American soldiers land on the French coast in Normandy during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
The World War II Today Twitter account invites readers to follow the war as it happened.
According to the Twitter feed's website, ww2today.com, the account "focuses on individual incidents and experiences, rather than attempting a complete narrative history."
Sample tweet: "12th April 1943: General Morgan is asked to draw up some plans — serious Allied planning for D-Day gets underway."
Oxford history graduate Alwyn Collinson grabbed headlines in 2011 when he started his World War II Twitter account, @RealTimeWWII.
The multi-year project, which live tweets the war as it happened, began with Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland and will conclude with the end of the war in 1945. It is currently in 1941.
"I'm using eyewitness accounts, photographs and video to give the feel these tweets are coming straight from 1939," Collinson told the BBC when the project began. "People say it can help connect them to history by seeing it through the eyes and the words of people who were there."
The Washington Post got into the historical Twitter accounts spirit with @CivilWarwp, which tweets the Civil War "in the words of the people who lived it — from journals, letters, records and newspapers."
America began a four-year observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, and this year marks the anniversary of the 150th Battle of Gettysburg.
Sample tweet: "Navy Secy Gideon Welles: 'The Emancipation Proclamation is published in this evening's Star. This... will be a landmark in history."
@PatriotCast bills itself as "a revolutionary way to experience the American Revolution," and, according to its description, will follow the day-to-day accounts of the war for eight years.
Events covered thus far include the British march on Lexington and Concord, the "shot heard 'round the world," the American seizure of Fort Ticonderoga and the additions of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock to the Second Continental Congress.
Sample tweet: April 18: "Two lanterns have been placed in the steeple of Christ Church. Hundreds of British soldiers are assembling on the edge of the Charles River."
>> Revolutionary War reenacters playing the part of British regular soldiers march in retreat down Massachusetts Avenue Saturday, April 15, 2000, in Lexington, Mass.
The year 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, and as part of that, the Apollo 11 moon mission was tweeted, from 36 days prior to launch to splashdown.
The tweets came from space — @AP11_SPACECRAFT — and the ground — @AP11_CAPCOM.
Apollo 11: "Last breakfast on Earth for a while. Eggs and steak."
Apollo 11: (Buzz Aldrin) "Well I'll tell you, I've been having a ball floating around inside here, back and forth up to one place and back to another."
Houston Control: Eagle is GO for landing.
Apollo 11: "We can see the moon passing by the window. It looks to be a correct size."
>> In this July 20, 1969 file photo from NASA, Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is photographed walking near the lunar module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity.
In conjunction with the 2012 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, @TitanicRealTime launched, chronicling the ill-fated voyage of the famous ship.
Although the ship inevitably ended up at the bottom of the ocean on last year's voyage, it launched again in March 2013, beginning with a tweet "from" the captain. The feed officially ended on April 15.
"#crew Where did I put those 12 distress signal rockets? We need those to adhere to Board of Trade guidelines..."
"#reporter Titanic sets sail, one third below capacity due to many would-be passengers being disenchanted due to the coalminer's dispute"
"#captain *COLLISION WITH ICEBERG* Just been woken by a tremendous crashing sound, what is going on out there?"
The characters in TwHistory's pioneer trek Twitter list may sound familiar to many Utahns, with people like Lorenzo Young, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith and William Clayton claiming starring roles.
The TwHistory project, created by Utah State University students Tom Caswell and Marion Jensen, aims to help students experience historical reenactments online.
"Twitter is the perfect medium for telling a story," Caswell told the Deseret News in 2010. "It gives you the tools you need to create different actors, and it gives you a timeline."
June 11, Heber C. Kimball: "Men from the gentile camp came to visit. One went up the nearby mountains and returned w/snow wrapped in a shirt. Gave us a snowball."
July 11, Erastus Snow: "At the same instant, Elder Pratt and I uttered a shout of joy at finding the broad basin of the Salt Lake spreading itself before us!"
July 24, Lorenzo Young: "This day we arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake."
>> Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow, as depicted on the This Is the Place Monument.
Author Michael Dobbs took up the challenge of tweeting the Cuban Missile Crisis, beginning with the July 6 appointment of a new commander of Soviet forces in Cuba and ending with the October 28 dismantling of the missile sites.
October 1: "U.S. Intelligence alerts McNamara to the possiblity that medium range ballistic missiles have been positioned in Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba."
October 1: "McNamara directs the heads of the U.S. Navy and Air Force to prepare for both a blockade and an airstrike against Cuba."
October 28: "RFK meets with Dobrynin who notes that Khrushchev has agreed to withdraw missiles & wants to send his best wishes to both RFK & JFK."
@CivilianWartime tweets the Civil War from the homefront in North Carolina, and is an extension of the work of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources commemoration of the war's 150th anniversary.
The project, when it began, was set to last for four years, and tweets the words of North Carolina civilians "who witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of the war."
Sample tweet, from a letter written by a soldier named Lewis: "I got that picture you have been asking me for a long time and an ugly thing it is too."
Robert Falcon Scott led the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904 before launching a plan to become the first person to reach the South Pole.
Scott reached the pole in 1912 only to find that a Norwegian party had beaten them there. He and his two remaining companions — two others had died along the way — died of starvation and exposure on March 29, 1912.
Scott's voyage was chronicled on Twitter in 2012 as a "centenary celebration."
Sample tweet: "The pole. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected."
>> The five men from the 1912 Robert F. Scott Expedition to the South Pole are seen in this 1912 photo not long before they died on their way back from their trek. From left to right: Dr E. A. Wilson, Lt. H. R, Bowers, Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, Petty Officer Taff Evans and Capt. L. E.G. Oates.
Another TwHistory project, Gettysburg was tweeted in 2009 from the perspective of 11 different people, including Union and Confederate soldiers and generals and President Abraham Lincoln.
Harper's Weekly: "Yesterday morning, General Reynolds, with 25,000 men, approached Gettysburg from the southeast and began a great battle."
Union Colonel Charles Wainwright: "The smoke is so thick you can't see more than ten yards. But we've given them a continual shower, and driven them back."
Louis Leon, Co. B, 53rd N.C.: "The battle is over, and although we did not succeed in pushing the enemy out of their strong position, they have nothing to boast about."
The National WWII Museum's "story of America in WWII, 70 years later" Twitter account won't be covering the 1944 Normandy Invasion in real time since in Twitter years, it's still chronicling 1943, but the account is updating daily with information about life during the war.
January 27, 1943: "Americans bomb Germans for first time"
April 27, 1943: "Anne Frank reports, 'Such quarrels that the whole house thunders!' as food supplies run low and bombings increase."
June 1, 1943: "Actor Leslie Howard's flight was shot down by German fighters. Questions persist about the attack today."
>> German soldiers hoisting the German army flag, Jan. 19, 1939 in front of the City Hall of Gdynia, Poland, the seat of the civil administration.
@1948War presented real-time tweets of the events leading up to the 1948 Arab Israeli War, as well as the events that occurred during the war.
According to history.state.gov, the war broke out when five Arab nations invaded territory in the former Palestinian mandate following Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948.
In April, the account tweeted that the war will be repeated on Twitter from the beginning starting in October of this year.
Sample tweet, June 18, 1948: "Jewish officials confirm all classes of able-bodied men up to 36 called for combat duty; men over 42 mobilized for Home Guard."
>> Barbed wire covers the entire roadway for 105 yards on Princess Mary Ave. in Jerusalem at Zion Square on May 19, 1948. The wire is meant to keep Arabs and Jews from coming in contact.
C. Peter Chen of the World War II database website created @ww2db, which shares photos and events from "today in history" during the Second World War.
In the spirit of the Normandy Invasion, the account tweeted a June 5, 1944 photo of British soldiers preparing to cross the English Channel and begin the invasion of Europe.
>> Protected from strafing Nazi planes by barrage balloons, a Coast Guard tank landing ship, left, passes a lead of mechanized fighting vehicles to the flat top of a Rhino” in the English Channel during the height of the invasion of the French Coast in an undated photo. The “rhinos” slogged through the surf to unload their cargos on the beech.
Samuel Pepys, a 17th century London diarist, tweets readers through his adventures in and around 1660s London, sharing stories of — among other things — hearing the king speak, catching a cold and buying books.
April 20: "This evening my head ached exceedingly, which I impute to my sitting backwards in my cabin, otherwise than I am used to do."
April 30: "After dinner to ninepins, W.Howe and I against Mr. Creed and the Captain. We lost 5s. apiece to them."
May 25: "The king and the dukes did eat their breakfast, and there being set some ship's diet before them, they eat of pease, pork and boiled beef."
>> People walk along the south bank of the River Thames as mist shrouds the Tower of London, at left, and Tower Bridge in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
Winston Churchill's war cabinet papers Twitter account — now defunct after its creator got a new job working at the UK National Archives — let users see World War II unfold through 1942 government documents.
December 7: "Mr. Churchill speaking to President Roosevelt by telephone. President to go to Congress tomorrow for vote on declaration of war against Japan."
July 2: "Motion of no confidence in Mr. Churchill's government defeated: Ayes, 25; noes, 475."
September 8: "PM warns Germany over war crimes: 'The hour of liberation' in Europe 'will also be the hour of retribution.'"
September 16: "Information minister: Call up threatens to throw BBC into 'chaos.' Propaganda weapons 'cannot be wielded without staff.'"
According to 8thafhs.org, the Eighth Army Air Force began on January 19, 1942, and was activated on January 28. The Eighth flew in the European Theater for much of the war, carrying out strategic bombing campaigns across Europe in planes like the B-24 and B-17.
During the war, approximately 350,000 officers and men served in the Eighth.
Tweets from the @8thAirForceWW2 account share stories, photos, mission reports and casualty counts from throughout the war.
Sample tweet, April 16: "#WWII #OnThisDay 1943 2BW B-24s dropped 52 tons of bombs on the Brest U-boat base. 3 B-24s are missing & 9 are damaged. 31 crewmen missing."
Much like North Carolina's Twitter account chronicling the Civil War from the perspective of its citizens, Minnesota is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war using the words of Minnesotans who were there.
Isaac Taylor: "Three women at prayer meeting at Lacy House this evening. Blessed relics of civilization! #Hello."
Jane Grey Swisshelm: "Cannot leave hospitals; am completely stuck fast & feel here is my place. Oh! The suffering, the agony & death, & this is the model hospital!"
William Christie: "Be thankful you're not in a besieged city. Night & day there's a loud roar from the mortar boats on the river. Little rest for the wicked..."
Another "today in history" account, @thehistory looked beyond the wars and the U.S. to chronicle events like Saladin's 1185 march into Jerusalem, a battle between Confederate and Union ships in 1864 and a 1958 march against nuclear weapons.
A single tweet contained information about more than one historical event that took place on the same day, although often hundreds of years apart.
>> Allied tanks in a line on a beach on the Normandy coast Inland against German defenses as cover for assault troops moving ashore from landing craft in the invasion, June 1944.
War started Wednesday, June 5 — 46 years after the actual war took place — between Egypt, Israel and the IDF, and unlike in 1967, Twitter is now there to capture the minute-by-minute account of the Six Day War.
Although the tweets are written in Hebrew, Internet translations allow readers to follow along.
As of early Thursday morning, one of the latest tweets said roughly, "Explicit instructions to save the integrity of the holy places of all religions were forces in the sector. Keep the integrity of the holy places."
>> In this image released by Israel's Government Press Office, Tuesday, June 5, 2007, Israeli soldiers ride on the top of a vehicle through the Lion's Gate after capturing Jerusalem's Old City during the Six Day War in June 1967.