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1.You may want to consult the variety of information available on the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Wild West collection website.
To introduce this activity, you might want to explore as a class the westward shift over time of the nation's "population center," or the point on the map that is in the center of the country in terms of population (rather than area). This PDF map from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the changing population center over time. How did it shift just during Oakley's lifetime?
1. Information on women's suffrage can be found at this Library of Congress website and this website by the Women of the West Museum. Students may also want to read this essay on another PBS website exploring what society expected of women during the 1800s.
2. Students should keep in mind that Oakley and the Wild West show would not have been entirely new to British readers, following their triumphant tour of Europe not long before the Columbian Exhibition.
1. For example, based on what you know about Oakley, how do you think she might have reacted to the line from the song "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" (in "Annie Get Your Gun") in which Frank Butler sings, "I can drink my liquor faster than a flicker" and Annie replies, "I can do it quicker and get even sicker"?
2. Students may want to look at some promotional posters of Oakley for ideas for their cover. Students should understand that their novel does not need to be based on fact, but that it should (like a typical dime novel) include highly dramatic events and situations.
1. If students are having difficulty thinking of prominent women to use as examples, you might suggest Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, or Madonna.
2. Information on a number of these events can be found at the website of the PBS documentary series "The West"; in their research, students might come across other items to include on their timeline as well. Also, you might ask students to read from Helen Hunt Jackson's classic 1881 book A Century of Dishonor (University of Oklahoma reprint, 1995), which examined the federal government's policies toward the Indians.
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My American Experience
The legend of the Wild West has been played out in American Popular culture since the start of westward expansion. The real-life people who helped tame the west would shape the western heroes celebrated in film and television for decades.