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About

Buffalo Bill’s Great Plains is a digital history project that examines and displays multiple perspectives on mid-nineteenth century Great Plains history--including environmental, urban, social, and spatial history--following the life and times of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) via selected incidents from his 1879 autobiography, The Life of Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill, The Famous Hunter, Scout, and Guide.

This project focuses on important historical events from William F. Cody’s early life, approximately the 1840s through the 1870s, in a place and a period of time on which his later international celebrity was based. His early account of his life contains important historical content concerning the growth and development of the Great Plains. Cody’s experiences demonstrate the important role the region played in territorial expansion, the Indian Wars, environmental change, and American commercial and technological progress.

To address the challenges of using personal reminiscences as historical documents, the project team has sought to connect Cody's autobiography to larger historical trends that contextualize his life within the interconnected changes occurring across the themes of transportation, urban development, environmental change, and white American conflict with American Indians. Buffalo Bill’s Great Plains seeks to stimulate interest in history, geography, literature, and humanities generally by highlighting the intersection of the famous native Great Plainsman William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody with the development and growth in the region during the middle nineteenth century.

The intended audience for this project is academic and public, statewide and regional. Within the academic community, it is intended to reach all levels from secondary education to professional historians. In addition, it will be of interest to state and regional public school students. The project is intended for public consumption, particularly persons interested in the history of the Great Plains states including Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. It is our goal to create a truly inter-state, intra-regional historical product.

The project makes this information easily accessible to a wide audience by presenting it in an interface that is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. We have developed the project using open-source solutions that will not require users to download special tools beyond a web browser and the usual add-ons. A special feature of this project is that it involves the user community by prompting discussion and debate over the topics and by soliciting user feedback on the project's content and design as well as providing a place for users to contribute their own experiences with these locations and with Buffalo Bill himself. Ultimately, it is our aim to foster a critical public discourse about the man, the legend, and the region, and to provide opportunities for users to learn more about William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and the Great Plains that made him a world-wide celebrity.

Project Staff

Douglas Seefeldt, Project Director, Ball State University
Aly Caviness, Graduate Research Assistant, Ball State University, 2014
Kaci Nash, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2011-12
Brent Rogers, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2010-11
Kala Essay, Undergraduate Volunteer, Transcription, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2011
Andrew Leigh, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Emporia State University, 2011

Center for Digital Research in the Humanities Staff, University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
Laura Weakly, Metadata Encoding Specialist
Keith Nickum, Programmer/Analyist
Karin Dalziel, Digital Resources Designer
Rob Shepard, Graduate Research Assistant, GIS
Erin Pedigo, Graduate Assistant, Encoding

Initially conceived of in August of 2010, Buffalo Bill’s Great Plains officially began in January 2011 when grant applications were created and submitted by Douglas Seefeldt, Timothy R. Mahoney, and Brent M. Rogers to the state humanities councils of Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. These sucessful funding proposals enjoyed the support of project partners the Plains Humanities Alliance at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanites at the University of Nebraska, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University in Kansas. Tim Mahoney, then the Project Administrator for the Plains Humanities Alliance, helped with the conceputualization of the Iowa themes and the identification of key sources related to the historical context for the Cody family experiences there. Brent Rogers, the project’s first Graduate Research Assistant, conducted preliminary research on the autobiography themes and helped Project Director Doug Seefeldt write the grant applications. He also traveled to archives and libaries in North Platte, Nebraska and to repositories in Lawrence, Leavenwirth, and Emporia, Kansas to locate materials for the project. Brent supervised the transcription efforts of the volunteer undergraduate assistant and he composed an early draft of the text that became the Kansas and Nebraska sections of the project narrative. Kaci Nash made two research trips during her tenure as the project’s Graduate Resaerch Assistant, visiting Davenport, Des Moines, LeClaire, and Iowa City, Iowa to uncover documents and to visit Cody-related sites. She also worked with the Omeka theme to create the project design and user interface and she composed an early draft of the text for the Iowa section narrative. Most recently, Aly Caviness composed the exhibit head notes and the descriptive texts that connect the Cody autobiography excerpts to the archival materials in each of the thematic sections. She also worked with the Neatline Omeka plugin to place the autobiography excerpts on the maps near where the events they describe occurred. Doug Seefeldt, the Senior Digital Editor for the Papers of William F. Cody and the Co-Director of the William F. Cody Archive, directed the project, designed the research plan, managed the grants, supervised the graduate student researchers, and composed the final draft of the project narrative. He had lots of help from those mentioned above and wishes to thank the following people who helped the project get off the ground:

Kathy Anderson, Project Specialist, Office of Sponsored Programs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Brent Baum, DISC Library Assistant, University Libraries, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Nancy Becker, Grants Coordinator, Office of Sponsored Programs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Susan Brinkman, Assistant Director, Center for Great Plains Studies, Emporia State Univeristy
Andrea Faling, Associate Director, Nebraska State Historical Society
Pam Fillmore, Program Consultant, Research and Grants Office, Emporia State Univeristy
Jim Hoy, Director, Center for Great Plains Studies, Emporia State Univeristy
Tim Johnson, Grants & Administration Officer, Humanities Iowa
Jeremy Johnston, Managing Editor, The Papers of William F. Cody, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY
Wendy Katz, Project Administrator, Plains Humanities Alliance, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ruth Madell, Grants Manager/Budget Director, Kansas Humanities Council
Timothy R. Mahoney, Professor of History and former Project Administrator, Plains Humanities Alliance, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Edana McSweeney, Director of Programs, Kansas Humanities Council
Sandra Pershing, Administrative Assistant, Department of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Greg Prickman, Assistant Head, Special Collections & University Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries
Linda Ratcliffe, Publications Specialist, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gregory R. Snow, Associate Dean for Research, College of Arts and Sciences, UNL, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
James Stubbendieck, former Director of the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gretchen Walker, Administrative Assistant, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Cheryl Walsh, Grants Director, Humanities Iowa
Katherine Walter, Co-Director, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mary Yager, Senior Program Officer, Nebraska Humanities Council

Special thanks to the following people who helped the project at crucial junctures:

Linda Clark, Assistant Editor, The Papers of William F. Cody, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY
Wayne Graham, Head, Research & Development, Scholars' Lab, University of Virginia
James Griffin, Director/Curator, Lincoln County Historical Museum, North Platte, NE
Karen Keehr, Curator of Photographs, Nebraska State Historical Society
Kathy Lafferty, Reader Services/Reference, Copy Services Manager, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
David McClure, Web Applications Specialist, Scholars' Lab, University of Virginia
Tom Mooney, Curator, Nebraska State Historical Society
Nancy Sherbert, Acquisitions, Archives, Kansas State Historical Society