Clicking Back

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Hunting for great history Web sites? Relax — here's a handful of the best.

American Centuries: View from New England
 
<www.memorialhall.mass.edu>

Learn about early New England life at the Memorial Hall Museum Online. Search more than 1,000 artifacts and documents from the museum’s collection, and explore the Turns of the Centuries Exhibit to learn about daily life in 1700, 1800 and 1900. Plus, read about important people, places and events in New England history.

American Currency Exhibit

<www.frbsf.org/currency>

Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson weren’t always pictured on our currency. Check out this online exhibit from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to view old legal tender and to learn the history of American money. As you follow its evolution, you’ll see how money has shaped our nation. Select Tour Exhibit by Era to steer through different time periods, starting with the struggle for American independence.

The American West: A Celebration of the Human Spirit

<www.americanwest.com>

Leave it to a Swedish immigrant to present an online history of the American West, from the days of Wild Bill and Wyatt Earp to today. Though Bengt Lindeblad died in 1997, his site lives on, full of articles about European emigration, Native American tribes, and all you’ll ever need to know about cowboys. Look for events, visitors’ stories and the online trading post, too.

Archiving Early America

<earlyamerica.com>

Archiving Early America offers you the opportunity to explore primary sources from the 18th century and get a better feel for the early “Americans” who shaped our nation’s future. Read newspapers, maps and pamphlets from Colonial times. You can also search a digital library of images, complete with illustrations of battles, weddings and more. Among the site’s gems are digitized copies of George Washington’s journals printed in the Maryland Gazette in 1754.

Best of History Web Sites

<www.besthistorysites.net>

This portal is a haven for history buffs. It links to more than 800 history-related Web sites that have been reviewed for accuracy, usefulness and quality. The site’s superb organization and well-categorized links make it easy to find a site for whatever topic interests you. The directory also has a great list of links for maps and multimedia.

Clash of Cultures in the 1910s and 1920s

<www.history.ohio-state.edu/projects/clash>

The Ohio State University History Department presents an informative site that delves deeper than the flapper, speakeasy and other popular stereotypes associated with the Roaring ’20s. Instead, it focuses on the cultural tensions that arose as modern views challenged old traditions and culture. These tensions centered on Prohibition, women’s changing role in society, racial and ethnic conflicts and the Scopes trial.

Death of the Dream: Farmhouses in the Heartland

<www.pbs.org/ktca/farmhouses>

Farming was a way of life for so many generations of Americans. This companion site to the PBS documentary Death of a Dream explores the history of farming in America and how the tradition and culture have changed. Relive a chapter of our history by learning about the settlers, what they farmed and what they dreamed. Plus, read literary works that capture farm life, and tour a virtual farmhouse.

EyeWitness

<www.ibiscom.com>

Go to EyeWitness to read firsthand accounts of historical events spanning the ancient world through World War II. These accounts, which are told in the witnesses’ own words, will transport you back through time and help you understand how the events unfolded.

The Food Timeline

<www.gti.net/mocolib1/kid/food.html>

Have you ever wondered what Christopher Columbus ate on his trans-Atlantic voyages or what pioneers feasted on along the Oregon Trail? How long have White Castle hamburgers been around, and where did french fries come from? (No, the answer’s not France.) The Food Timeline is the answer to all of your questions about culinary history, beginning before 17,000 BC with salt and water and ending in 2002 with tear-free onions. Click on each food for its history. You’ll also find recipes for everything from cream cheese to rock candy.

History Buff

<www.discovery.com/guides/history/historybuff>

History enthusiasts must check out this great general site. Dive into the past and get a taste of history through the press-coverage archive, which includes articles from the 16th through 20th centuries. The articles are divided by topic, including Civil War, presidents, hoaxes, crimes and technology. You’ll also find fun facts about each president and state.

The History of Jim Crow

<wvvw.jimcrowhistory.org>

Although this site was created for teachers, everyone should read its powerful commentary on one of America’s most shameful periods. First-person narratives, maps, historical images, simulations and essays illustrate violence and segregation from the Civil War to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Inventors Museum

<www.inventorsmuseum.com>

Have you ever wondered who developed the steamboat or the cable car? Did you know that Abraham Lincoln is the only US president to have held a patent? Can you guess what prompted the invention of the Frisbee? Get the stories behind everyday objects with this site’s collection of essays.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music

<lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/mussmhtml>

This online exhibit from the Library of Congress’ American Memory Collection houses more than 62,500 pieces of sheet music that chronicle the development of popular song from 1820 to 1885. You can search by keyword or browse the collection by subject, author or title. Each entry includes the piece’s title, composer, publisher and publication date — plus a digital image of the sheet music.

The Oregon Trail

<www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Oregontrail.html>

A complete history of the Oregon Trail is now at your fingertips. This site includes an archive full of diaries, memoirs and books, which stress the hardships pioneers faced and their Native American relations. Learn about historic sites along the trail, and discover interesting facts, such as trailgoers’ uses for buffalo dung.

Popular Baby Names

<www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames>

Bertha and Ethel were popular names in the 1880s, Dorothy and Margaret were hits in the 1920s, and Maria and Lisa topped the charts in the 1960s. The ever-changing popularity of baby names is an interesting reflection on American culture. You can explore naming trends dating back to the 1880s at this site from the Social Security Administration.

Posters American Style

<nmaa-ryder.si.edu/collections/exhibits/posters>

In this online exhibit of posters, the Smithsonian American Art Museum highlights some of the greatest graphic images created during the 20th century. View the collection of images, learn how the posters were made and see the effects they had on American culture.

The Time of the Lincolns

<www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lincolns>

This site accompanies PBS’ documentary Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, which portrays the division in the Lincoln home and the country at large during the Civil War. This extensive online presentation offers all the film’s features and more. You can virtually tour a slave cabin and learn about the conditions of slavery, track Confederate and Union soldiers through the war, and view an interactive map. Plus, learn about the war’s partisan politics, women’s roles on the battlefield and the struggle for abolition.

The Underground Railroad

<www.nationalgeographic.com/railroad>

National Geographic presents the story of the Underground Railroad at this fun, informative site. Learn about the roads to freedom, as well as important fugitives and abolitionists of the time. You can even test your courage and stamina with an interactive escape route. Harriet Tubman is your guide to freedom, but you must make the decisions along the route, such as whether to hide in the woods or approach a so-called safe house.

West Point in the Making of America

<americanhistory.si.edu/westpoint>

In 1783, George Washington suggested that the federal government create a military academy, in the belief that training in engineering and artillery were crucial to a “peace establishment.” This site, from the National Museum of American History, explores the legacy of the US Military Academy at West Point. Read its 201-year history, enjoy an interactive timeline of West Point graduates and their accomplishments, and take a West Point quiz to see how much you really know about the academy.
 

From Family Tree Magazine‘s March 2003 America’s Scrapbook.

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