How to Recruit Reenactors? Where and how to find them.


A historical reenactment is a very exciting event but unless you have reenactors in place, it is not going to go very well. Fortunately, there are some ways to recruit reenactors and to make your historical event a success.

How to recruit reenactors? For the most part, you can find plenty of reenactors for any historical event by advertising at local universities. Many of the historical reenactments are going to take place near a university, and the students will be eager to join in.

Part of recruitment add of 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers
Part of recruitment add of 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers Reenactors. Source: Facebook site of the reenactment group

You may also find some students that are immersed in historical studies, which is a double benefit. At times, it may be enough to simply post flyers at local universities on bulletin boards, either in person or electronic. In some cases, these flyers may take on a life of their own and they could even “go viral” and bring in a flood of new reenactors.

At other times it may be necessary to push the flyer a little further by putting something behind it. Rather than just posting a general flyer for everyone at the university, you may want to target certain groups of individuals or perhaps even those who are taking classes at the university that would lend to that interest.

Looking for reenactors at the university – doctoral student Erica Nuckles with Cherokee Peace Chief Attakullakulla at Fort Ligonier Days, a major annual event at Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania. Source: www.albany.edu

If the historical reenactment takes place frequently in the same area, there may also be many people who attend the event as an onlooker every year. Some of them may even have an interest in being a reenactor in the event, but they are not quite sure how to get started.

Take the time to get in touch with those who are attending the event and you might be surprised with how many would be willing to take part in the event in the following years. Since they already have an interest in the area and perhaps even in the event specifically, they may be well suited to take part on the other side of the fence.

You can also look at the websites of reenactment groups, many of them would have information about the possibility to hire them, some basic conditions and references from previous cooperations.

reenactment group offer for museums
Example of reenactment group offer for museums and event organizers. Source: Buckingham’s Retinue, www.bucks-retinue.org.uk

Local groups may be interested in the subject and they can also lend to the reenactment as well. Some of the groups may be specific to that historical event, such as those who are interested in the Civil War in the United States. At other times, it may just be a matter of community but if it has to do with the history of the community, those types of groups can be a fertile ground for reenacting new people to the event.

Don’t stop at simply reenacting from one year to another. You may be able to find people through various avenues, such as universities, past observers, or local groups but many of them will continue to be interested in future events as well. It’s a great way to expand the current historical event and make it into something larger.

Should you hire reenactors?

Some reenactments are going to be quite full by using volunteers but there may also be times when hiring reenactors is a good idea.

Generally speaking, you should only hire reenactors for very specific parts of the reenactment, such as those who are playing a part. Rather than having a paid reenactor in the middle of the battle, have them reenacting a key aspect of life during that historical period, such as the way people lived, worked, and raised a family.

One of the main reasons why you would hire reenactors for any historical event is because it adds to the realism of the event. Many of the individuals who volunteer to be part of the historical reenactment will do quite well in a group but they may not stand out when it comes to reenacting aspects of life during that time period.

blacksmith/reenactor in the Little Woodham Living history village
Sometimes additonal skills are required – blacksmith/reenactor in the Little Woodham Living history village. Source: www.littlewoodham.org.uk

Many of those who are hired as part of a reenactment have an education or have immersed themselves in that historical time, so they are well suited to work in that position. You may find individuals who just have a love of history that are well suited, but most of them are going to have experience and knowledge to back things up.

Should reenactments use volunteers?

Small-scale reenactments will typically do best with paid volunteers that are very skilled and knowledgeable about the time that is being portrayed. For large-scale reenactments, however, volunteers are going to be beneficial.

After all, it can be difficult to pay 1000 professionals to take part in the battle, especially when you have plenty of volunteers willing and eager to do so.

reenactment battle with volunteers in Grunwald
Example of reenactment battle with mostly volunteers, professionally equipped – Grunwald Battle in Poland. Source: www.dzieje.pl

It is also important to look at the historical event and see how much interest it has generated. In some cases, such as major battles that are being reenacted, it is likely that it will pull a crowd from the local area and people may even travel for hundreds or thousands of miles to see it. You will be able to find plenty of volunteers if that is the case.

If the reenactors are familiar with the history and the interpretive plan associated with the historical reenactment, they will do well as paid volunteers. It adds more motivation and often, they will make the entire reenactment one that is believable and enjoyable for anyone watching.

What are the different types of reenactors?

There are many different types of reenactors and it often depends upon the type of reenactment. If you are only reenacting a specific time period, then you may have civilian reenactors available but when reenacting a battle, uniformed reenactors are going to be needed. Here are the three specific types of reenactors that you may use.

  • Uniformed – These are very popular in historical reenactments that are associated with a large-scale battle or a period in history when a war is taking place. In the case of large battles, such as Gettysburg or the battle of Antietam, there will be plenty in the local area that can fill in as uniformed volunteers.
  • Civilians – Although it is possible to find volunteers that will fill the role of a civilian historical reenactor, they will not often play a specific part. Civilian reenactors are often those who have an education specific to that historical time period or those who have immersed themselves in it for a considerable amount of time.
  • Independent – There are also some individuals who fall in the category of an independent historical reenactor. These are individuals who are not necessarily tied to one specific type of historical reenactment but rather, have the skills and understanding to play almost any role.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when recruiting for a historical reenactment. If you make the right choices along the way, it can lead to a very enjoyable event that will continue to grow in importance and popularity year after year.

How to start a reenactment group

You may find that one of the best ways to enlist people for historical reenactments is to start a reenactment group. These are individuals who will continue to grow their knowledge and their love of the subject, even during the off-season. Here are some ways to get a reenactment group started.

  • Find Those Interested in One Key Point – It isn’t always necessary to focus directly on the historical event. At times, you may be able to broaden the horizons of the group by looking for those who have a side interest in one particular aspect of it. For example, rather than searching for somebody who is interested in the battle of Gettysburg, look for somebody who is interested in historical firearms.
  • Advertise Locally – Many people who are interested in the history of an area are also going to be interested in the community. Advertising locally, whether it is through billboards, by posting flyers and local businesses, or perhaps sponsoring local events will go far in appealing to this group.
  • Look for Existing Groups in the Area – There is not any sense in reinventing the wheel, so if you have an existing group in the area that already has an interest in the historical event, you may be able to piggyback on it and grow a group for the reenactment.

ReenactmentGuide

Group of reenactment passionates, writing for people looking to start an adventure with historical reenactment and struggling to find valuable and actual information.

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