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

One thought on “Nineteenth-Century American History”

  1. yes i was informed the other day by my 93 year old grand mother that we are the living family members of doris duke. if you would like to hear more you my e-mail me at
    thank you for your time

Comments are closed.