The 17th Corps Field Hospital  re-enactors recreated a Civil War field hospital inside the library. Patrons experienced a prototype Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit, browsing medical supplies of the era and visiting with an undertaker, pharmacist, nurses and surgeons. Several operations highlighted the day, including a re-enactment of an amputation.
Area libraries and the Illinois and Michigan Canal Corridor Association  agreed to cooperate on programs highlighting the Civil War and/or Abraham Lincoln, during 2013. Peru chose a re-enactor program as our offering. We started planning around October 2012 for the event, which was hosted on February 23, 2013.
We marketed to traditional outlets, such as the radio, newspapers, flyers and bookmarks. We also contacted area history teachers and re-enactors with information and an invitation to the event. (Personally reaching out to local history teachers and re-enactors was successful, as one re-enactor attended in full Civil War era uniform.) Internally, we ran a Civil War photo montage on our digital picture frame for about three weeks prior to the event. These photos were given to us by the 17th Corps Field Hospital. They also included information about the event on their website.
The costs associated with this event were the 17th Corps Field Hospital's fee, printing and postage. We did not need to purchase ad space or have professional printing.
The field hospital was created in our reading area, so the only set-up library staff needed to do was move chairs and the mobile book shelves. We also set up a display of books about the civil war.
The program was wonderful. People dropped by on their own schedule to talk with re-enactors and most stayed the entire day. Just over 100 people officially attended (because of the open layout, we are not sure how many attendees were uncounted).
The surgeries were showstoppers. They amputated a leg for an audience of 50! The undertaker was also popular, but he did not embalm anyone, to the sorrow of many. All the feedback we received was positive and we met our goal to highlight Illinois's involvement in the Civil War.
My advice is to do it. A re-enactment is an enthusiastic and self-contained program.
About This Library
Peru Library services 10,000 residents in the Illinois Valley, about two hours west of Chicago. They have four full-time and seven part-time staff members.