Category Archives: Knowledge Bytes

Knowledge Bytes: Amusements

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

Museum of Yo-Yo History

Despite its long and colorful history, no toy may be as maligned as the yo-yo. The roots of the yo-yo can be traced back to antiquity: a Grecian urn in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicts that most well-known of yo-yo maneuvers, walking the dog.

Those with a penchant for the yo-yo will appreciate the wide range of materials that can be found on this site, particularly the appealing online exhibit of valuable yo-yos, such as the 1984 Olympics “No Jive” model. Those who want to continue their exploration of the yo-yo should visit the “Profiles & History” area of the website for player and company profiles, along with historical photographs of yo-yos in action.

Fashion Plate Collection

There are fashion plates, and then there are the exquisite fashion plates that constitute the University of Washington Libraries’ digitized collection. The plates were collected by long-time home economics professor Blanche Payne, who taught at the University from 1927 to 1966. The plates come from leading French, American, and British fashion journals of the 19th and early 20th century, and they document stylistic periods such as empire, romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian. An introductory essay about the collection of over 400 plates can be browsed alphabetically or by subject. Rounding out the site are a brief essay on fashion trends and an extended excerpt from the 1913 book Dame fashion, a commentary on the history and transformation of various fashions during the 19th century.

Central Park

As one of the world’s greatest urban green spaces, Central Park is loved by dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers as well as visitors to the city. This reverential website presents detailed information about this fine public space and its history as well as the activities that take place within its 843 acres. Visitors to the website can peruse maps of the park, learn about its many features, and browse a selection of photographs of this urban paradise. The homepage contains much of this material, along with a “News” feature, which provides updates about goings on throughout Central Park. For those planning a visit, the “Events” and “Attractions” sections will be most useful, as they include information about such draws as the zoo, rock climbing, ice skating lessons, swimming, tennis, outdoor theatre, and restaurants.

Ballparks of Baseball

In some ways, nothing says summer in the United States like sitting outside in a ballpark and watching nine innings of America’s favorite sport. This loving tribute to the venues—past, current, and future—that have housed various professional baseball teams is a great introduction to some of the most hallowed and reviled ballparks around the country. The “Features” section includes updated news about ballparks, videos of baseball stadiums, seating charts, and attendance figures by ballpark back to 1890. Within that same section, visitors can chime in and rate their “ballpark experience” at different ballparks around the country.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2010.

With this roundup of Internet picks, we say thanks and farewell to Joline Ezzell, who will retire in May 2010.

Knowledge Bytes: Health

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

Your Disease Risk

doctors treating a patient

This useful site, created by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention and now hosted by the Washington University School of Medicine, allows users to determine their potential risks for various cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and strokes by answering a few questions. Another section of the site lists eight ways to prevent disease and answers such commonly-asked questions as “What is prevention?” and “What is a screening test?” A “Community Action” link offers helpful ideas on supporting healthy lifestyles within a community, such as supporting nutrition programs in the local schools and supporting or starting a community garden.

RAND Compare

For those who are puzzled by proposed reforms to the U.S. health care system, this website is a great resource. The RAND Corporation, a non-profit institution that tackles tough policy problems across a broad spectrum, has created this website to provide factual information about this important and complex issue. The link “U.S. Health Care Today” covers nine topics—consumer financial risk, patient experience, waste, reliability, and coverage—that are crucial to understanding the current state of the health care system. Another link, “Policy Options,” leads to information about the consequences of potential changes to insurance coverage, payment rules, and delivery of health services.

Health care policy proposals have been developed by Congress, governors, and state lawmakers as well as private organizations and coalitions. These proposals and their current status are found under the “Proposals” link. Click the “Analysis of Options” link to see a unique chart called the Policy Options Dashboard that outlines the effects various policy changes would have on the topics listed in the “U.S. Health Care Today” link.

screenshot of website First Aid

photo of pills

As part of its mission to serve as a reliable source of health information, the Mayo Clinic has created an extensive website containing information about diseases, conditions, and healthy lifestyles. Included is a basic guide to first aid that provides free and medically sound advice. The guide covers over thirty subjects, including the proper care for dislocations, burns, bruises, frostbite, animal bites, heart attacks, sunburn, toothache, and trauma. The section for each subject gives a description of the symptoms and clear directions for treatment.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2009. for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at

Knowledge Bytes

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

The Pew Center on the States: Trends to Watch

Map from Pew Center website

Change is upon us, both at the Libraries—as this issue of the magazine relates—and in the United States. To provide some insight into the nature of future national and state issues, the Pew Center on the States has created a “Trends to Watch” site for policymakers, public officials, and the general public. The site’s homepage presents an overview related to eight major economic, technological, social, and environmental trends and issues likely “to be profound determinants of the prospects of states in the next 10 years.” These issues include migration patterns (“The Big Sort”), liabilities (“Bills Coming Due”), and climate change (“Green Wave”). Visitors can click on each of these eight major trends and issues to retrieve thematic and interactive maps, data tables, and press releases. Additionally, visitors can compare all of the 50 states via handy and easy-to-read charts and graphs. The site is cleanly designed and easy to navigate. Visitors who want to be alerted to additions to the site can sign up for the Center’s weekly online newsletter and its RSS feed.

2010 Census [pdf]

Short forms, long forms, Alaska Native, and so on. Any way you look at it, the United States Census is a complicated and fascinating feature of our national life. As dictated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is taken every ten years through a process that is evaluated almost constantly. Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau created the 2010 Census site in order to inform the general public about the upcoming census. Visitors to the page can read about census updates and statistical modifications and see the timeline for the 2010 census. The site also contains links to data from previous censuses, and a fun “Did You Know?” section. Interested parties can also look at the current U.S. population, learn about part-time job opportunities with the Census Bureau, and scan frequently asked questions. Rounding out the site are census data from 1990 and 2000, a population finder that allows users to find the population of any area or zip code, and a map of population density.

Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe

This seventh edition of the Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe, available in English and French, is a project of Christos Nussli. It consists of maps “depicting with accuracy the states of this continent on the first day of each centennial year from AD 1 to AD 1700.” A legend helps users understand each of the maps, which are presented as expandable thumbnails. The site also links to a bibliography and maps from De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Though the site functions in part as an advertisement for Nussli’s CD version of the atlas, it is nonetheless a useful stop in its own right.

OneLook Reverse Dictionary

Crossword PuzzleEveryone has had the frustrating experience of not being able to remember a particular word or phrase. Fortunately, there is now the OneLook Reverse Dictionary website that is a remedy for this situation. Essentially, a user enters a concept into a search engine and receives a list of pertinent words and phrases. For example, typing in “joy from the pain of others” returns over one hundred results, including “schadenfreude.” The site offers several additional options, including searches for related concepts, the foreign translation for a word, or basic identifications. Perhaps the most important function of the Reverse Dictionary is that users (if they are so inclined) can also use the database to solve crossword puzzle clues.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2009. for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at


Knowledge Bytes

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

24-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey

The Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted by the Pew Research Center, “is a series of worldwide public opinion surveys that encompasses a broad array of subjects ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. More than 175,000 interviews in 54 countries have been conducted as part of the project’s work.”

This report from June 2008 examines perceptions of the United States abroad. According to its findings, favorable views of the United States have increased modestly since 2007 in 10 of 21 countries where comparative data are available, although many people also feel that the recent economic slump is in no small part due to the United States. The survey also found a widespread belief that United States’ foreign policy “will change for the better” after the inauguration of a new American president next year.

The 150-page report is available in its entirety. In addition to the topics noted above, it covers perceptions of Iran, China, and Asian powers; environmental issues; and governments’ respect for the rights of their people. Finally, visitors can learn about the survey methods used in the creation of this report and view the results in tabular form.

Everyone likes polls, even when they don’t agree with the results. describes itself as “an independent, nonpartisan resource on trends in American public opinion.” It certainly provides an effective means online for keeping tabs on recent polls. The homepage features random samples of selected polls and summary results of other recently conducted polls. In addition, the homepage highlights broad subject categories: “Elections,” “State of the Union,” “National Security,” “In the News,” and “Issues,” each broken down into narrower topics.

Drilling into the site produces the results of recent polls, plus the questions asked of participants, the polling methodology and sample size. The site also offers visitors a directory, contents page, and search tool, as well as a number of subscription services that are available for an annual fee.

Open Secrets

U.S. CapitolOpen Secrets is a free “nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy,” whose motto is “Count cash and make change.” This is a deep site that provides a great deal of information about contributions to politicians at the federal, state, and local level.

From the homepage, visitors can quickly navigate to details of the financial contributions to presidential candidates, including those who dropped out of the race before the conventions. Also on the homepage are links to congressional and local races and contributions by industry, PACs, lobbyists, and advocacy groups.

Did you know that the average net worth of senators is twice that of members of the House of Representatives? A link to personal financial information allows visitors to search for politicians or the companies in which they have financial interests. Links to “Industries” provides a summary of political giving dating back to 1990, including breakdowns by type of contribution and political party; a list of organizations (usually U.S. companies) that have given the most from that industry; and a list of candidates that have received the most from the industry.

There are many fascinating lines of information to explore on this site. One of the most innovative is the “Money Web,” a social networking tool found under the Politicians & Elections tab/ Presidential that graphically shows connections between candidates and contributors. Click on a bubble and see how the money flows. Use caution, however; as of this writing, the “Money Web” page had not been updated since April.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2008. for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at

Arts and Music

Knowledge Bytes

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

Amazing Grace
The Library of Congress has created a website devoted to the history of the hymn “Amazing Grace” and the Library’s Chasanoff/Elozua Amazing Grace Collection, which comprises 3,049 published recordings of the hymn by different musicians or musical ensembles. This site is a joint venture of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division; the Music Division; and the American Folklife Center.

Since its publication in 1779 in England, “Amazing Grace” has grown in popularity to become one of the best-known musical works in the world. This website explores its history through items in the collections of the Library of Congress, from the earliest printing of the song to various performances on sound recordings.

The audio collection and database, compiled by Allan Chasanoff and Raymon Elozua and given to the Library in 2004, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest collection of recordings of a single musical work. The website contains a number of selections from the collection, including gospel renditions by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, an Elvis Presley recording, country versions by Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, and rock interpretations by the Byrds and the Lemonheads. A database for the entire collection can be searched on the site, and the complete audio collection is available for listening in the Library of Congress’s Recorded Sound Reference Center.

Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired By Ancient Rome
Glass vaseThe art of the Romans has influenced the work of many generations of artisans. Exploring Roman forms and subjects has been a worthy endeavor for centuries, and many careers have been made of interpreting their work, much as the Romans drew on the work of earlier Grecian artisans. This fascinating online exhibit from the J. Paul Getty Museum examines the ways in which Roman glass was used as inspiration for glassmakers across Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Created to complement an ongoing exhibit at the Getty Villa, this exhibit affords visitors the opportunity to learn about mosaic glassmaking techniques, cameo glass, gold glass, cage cups, and the shimmering world of iridescence. Each section of the exhibit includes a brief narrative paragraph, along with high-quality examples of each glassmaking technique. Additional features include audio-visual demonstrations of glassmaking and a place where visitors can post their own comments.

Vatican Museums Online
Baroque church For those of us who are not able to travel to the museums of the Vatican, this website may be the next best thing. The site transports visitors to the Sistine Chapel, the Gregorian Egyptian and Etruscan museums, the Pinacoteca, and the Ethnological Missionary Museum. Visitors can take 360° tours of each museum’s rooms and view each object in context, then examine the contents of each room in detail. All the exhibits are lovely, but the Sistine Chapel deserves special attention. Here viewers can zoom into portions of The Last Judgement and the Chapel ceiling to study each figure. Tools make it possible to enlarge portions of the image, zoom, and scan each work of art. Very informative and helpful descriptions of the works of art complete this notable website.

Met Archives: The Metropolitan Opera
Opera sceneAlthough it is too late to hear Lilli Lehmann sing “Liebestod” live from the Metropolitan Opera or Caruso offer his version of “Questa o quello” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, these wonderful performances are revived on this very engaging website. First-time visitors may want to read the introductory essay on the history of the Met and then proceed to the “Timeline of Metropolitan Opera History.” In the “MetOpera Database” visitors can search for information about productions from any period of the institution’s history. Here you can learn, for instance, that La Bohème was performed a total of 1193 times at the Met between 1900 and June 2007, whereas Lucrezia Borgia and Gallia have been performed only once. Visitors can also peruse the “Stories of the Operas” section to read brief summaries of such works as Tristan und Isolde, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Die Fledermaus.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2008. for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at

Knowledge Bytes

A potpourri of Internet sites
selected for the readers of Duke University Libraries

Cartoon America: A Library of Congress Exhibition
Snow White From childhood, James Arthur Wood Jr. collected original cartoon art and then became an editorial cartoonist himself. He eventually donated his collection of over 36,000 original cartoon drawings to the Library of Congress. From that collection, 102 drawings reflecting Wood’s primary interests, including political illustrations, animation, and comic strips, have been chosen for this online exhibition. Among the many gems is a very fine crayon and ink political cartoon by Bill Maudlin that depicts Nikita Khrushchev berating a group of artists.

U.S. Congress Votes Database
With the momentum for the 2008 elections already building, this database created by the Washington Post encourages voters to learn more about their current legislators. The database draws on a variety of authoritative sources to provide a wealth of information, including voting and attendance records, financial disclosure statements, action on key votes, and roles in Congress. The site is updated daily.

Spices: Exotic Flavors and Medicines
Spices Since the first known use of spices 7,000 years ago in the Middle East, they have been employed for embalming, as ingredients in incense, as aphrodisiacs and medicine, and as flavorings for food. This informative Web site, created by the History and Special Collections Section of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA, offers general facts about spices, including their sources and various uses, and a timeline. In addition, a separate page for each spice gives more details and a photograph of the processed and unprocessed form of the spice as well as a colored drawing of the plant and its parts from Bentley’s Medicinal Plants.

Have you ever wondered, “How long is forever?” or “What is the meaning of life?” To learn what philosophers have to say about these and many other topics, visit the “AskPhilosophers” Web site, where the dictum is “You ask. Philosophers answer.” A visitor to the site can ask a question, and if it hasn’t been answered in detail already, one of the participating scholar philosophers from around the world will respond fully in a few days. Visitors to the site can also browse previously answered questions through a subject list.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2007. for identifying all sites except for the spices site, which was recommended by Danette Pachtner, film, video, and digital media librarian at Duke. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at

Nineteenth-Century American History

knowledge bytes

Internet Sites Selected for the Readers of Duke University Libraries

Annie Oakley [requires RealPlayer]

For those who still think of Annie Oakley as portrayed by Betty Hutton belting out “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” in the film version of “Annie Get Your Gun,” this fine website created as part of PBS’s American Experience series reveals the nuance and introspection of the real-life sharp-shooter and noted American heroine. To begin, it is worth noting that Oakley, in spite of her Old West image, lived her entire life east of the Mississippi. It is also interesting to note that while Oakley overcame some stereotypes about the abilities of women, she opposed female suffrage throughout her life. On this website, visitors can learn more about Oakley’s life through an interactive timeline. The gallery section includes some gloriously inventive promotional posters for Oakley and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, touting Oakley as “Little Miss Sure-Shot,” and celebrating a few of her extraordinary marksmanship feats, such as riding a bicycle or standing on a galloping horse while shooting. Finally, visitors can also browse through the special features, which include an interactive poll and a question and interview session with the PBS program participants on Oakley’s attitudes toward women’s issues of the day.

Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

In the fall of 1881, anthropologist Alice Fletcher set out on a trip to the Dakota Territory with two companions and an Omaha Indian woman to live for six weeks among Sioux women on reservations in Nebraska and South Dakota. She recorded her experiences in two journals. This digital version of her diaries, made available by the National Museum of American History, includes in addition to her daily entries, 26 drawings and 36 photographs that can be viewed alongside the text or in a separate photograph gallery. Visitors to the website can view the diaries by date or browse through them from beginning to end. During her time with the Sioux, Fletcher transcribed fifteen folktales, which can be read in her journal entries, where they appear without titles but often with some contextual information. Rounding out the site is a “Learn More” section that lists books, archival collections, and other websites where there is additional information on Fletcher.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

This website presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. Included are approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass’s life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. Visitors will find correspondence with many prominent civil rights reformers of his day, including Susan B. Anthony, William Lloyd Garrison, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and Russell Lant, and political leaders such as Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. The collection can be searched by keyword or browsed by series. The website also features a timeline, links to online versions of the three autobiographies of Douglass, and a family tree.

And on the lighter side ….

The History of Eating Utensils

Presented by the California Academy of Sciences, this online history of eating utensils is both fascinating and educational. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage where you will find links to pages describing the various utensils. The brief essays on individual utensils give their history as well as images of examples from the Academy’s collection, which covers various geographic areas and time periods. Learn, among other things, why the French were slow to adopt the use of forks. Equally worth consideration is the history of chopsticks as they have evolved over the past 5,000 years. First made from a single piece of bamboo, chopsticks only gradually came to be separated into two pieces and made of less and less precious materials. In this brief online history learn all about chopsticks and the rest of the instruments humans use to eat gracefully.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2007, for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a website for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at