Over the weekend I happened to notice several witty and insightful tweets floating by in my timeline with the #HistorianSignBunny hashtag. Each tweet containined a little ASCII art bunny holding a sign, which itself contained a short statement about history. For example:

After a little digging and scrolling it became apparent that there were literally tons of these bunnies. So I did some data collection with twarc and was able to identify what looked like the earliest tweets, which were from @GiorgiaV, who let me know that #HistorianSignBunny actually started its life en Français as #lapinhistorien by @reinemedievale, who created the first historian bunny but credited @furetus31 with creating the hashtag (whew):

At any rate it appears that the first bunny with a historical message by @reinemedievale was:

But it also seems a fair number of tweets circulated without either hashtag such as:

Unfortunately, it was difficult to search for the characters in the bunny itself using Twitter’s search syntax. It seems like the index ignores most of the punctuation? If you happen to play with that and figure it out please let me know.

I was also surprised to learn that the bunny-with-a-sign is actually a meme that goes back to 2013 at least. But using it to communicate historical topics appears to be something fresh and brand new.

Top 50

So, of course, I wanted to see what the top 50 #historiansignbunny and #lapinhistorien were. With twarc and a few of its external utilities this wasn’t too hard to do:

# get the data
% twarc search 'historiansignbunny' > tweets.jsonl

# get the top 50 retweets    
% utils/retweets.py --results 50 tweets.jsonl > retweets.jsonl

# convert the 50 retweets to html embeds for this post 
% utils/embed.py retweets.jsonl > retweets.html

All in all there were 28,570 tweets and retweets with the hashtags. Of those there were 961 original tweets by 600 users.

So without further ado, here are the top 50. If you want access to the entire dataset of original tweets I’ve put a CSV up as a Google Sheet. Note they are ordered in descending order by number of retweets. But since these numbers can change over time they may slip out of order.

One thing to notice in each tweet is that in addition to being retweeted, they are also the start of some seriously long conversation threads. Some are kind of painful to read (because the web), but they are interesting nonetheless.