As the centenary of Russia’s revolutions approaches, Project 1917 is recreating the year in the form of a social network. This way, you can read Tsar Nicholas II status updates or Vladimir Lenin’s wall posts and people get to know what happened exactly 100 years ago.
“Our main aim is to make history popular, to bring a multitude of voices from a diverse array of historically significant figures to as wide an audience as possible. That is why we do not always observe all those standards which are normally considered inviolable in serious scholarship,” reads their description.
The project is an “educa-ment” platform, a mix of education and entertainment which uses historical archives, letters and diaries to recreate the situation and post all status, wall posts and pictures. They shorten texts to make them more readable but never change the words of sense.
“The project consists entirely of primary sources. It includes not a trace of invention. All the texts used are taken from genuine documents written by historical figures: letters, memoirs, diaries and other documents of the period.”
Besides main political figures and their families the project features a wide range of characters including writers, artists, and opera singers.
Users can access both the site www.project1917.com or subscribe to updates on Facebook and VKontakte, the Russian equivalent. It was founded by Mikhail Zygar, the former head of Dozhd, a liberal network television and Karen Shainyan.
The English version of the Project is available thanks to a collaboration with the Pushkin House, UK’s oldest independent Russian cultural center.
Referring to their partnership Pushkin House Director Clem Cecil said: “we are delighted to be partnering up on this important project. We fully support the values and aims of Project1917, to make the primary sources of 100 years ago available, without editorial intervention or spin. Zygar has assembled a fantastic group of young historians and researchers in Russia.”
“It cannot be overstated how important the events of 100 years ago were: the lead up to the revolution, and the revolution itself, profoundly affected the course of world history. This is a playful, yet serious way to become immersed in those events,” she added.
The project will run until January 2018 but it certainly changes the way of learning and teaching history and could be replicated around the world. For example, it would be an interesting tool to be used in Latin America, as it engages people, especially younger, with the past and allows them to explore the history of their nations in an interactive way.
People in the region using the internet has increased from 17% in 2005 to 53% in 2015, according to a study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Facebook remains as one of the most popular networks in the region, which would make it suitable for this type of platforms.