Finding Your “Wayback”

Finding your “Wayback”:

I’m looking forward to showing off a number of “cool tools” for writers at Killer Nashville. For this post, I have a couple of neat sites for helping writers “find their way back”.
Don’t get the reference? Don’t worry about it. We’ll get there in a bit.

Is Historical Accuracy important to you?
Such a tool I have for you —

A friend, who shall remain nameless because he’s bigger than me, faster than me, and Uncle Sam once taught him to use weapons, is writing this story about Chicago a hundred years or so ago. He’s got a shootout in the stockyards and a rough and tumble along the docks and his historical details are important to him. So, he didn’t like it when someone pointed out that a third of his story was impossible, because it would have had to have taken place under water. “No Way!”, says he. “Yes, way,” says.. um… somebody else.

If you go visit the wonderful Mister David Rumsey, at David Rumsey’s Historical Map Collection and search his collection for Chicago, you can see what Chicago looked like more than 100 years ago. Compare it to a walk around today and it’s pretty interesting. Overlay it on today’s map and you’ll see places that are dry now, that weren’t so dry then. (Come see me at KillerNashville and I’ll show you how!)

The Wayback Machine

Ever found the most interesting informaton on a website, then tried to find it a year later and it’s gone? The Wayback Machine, or, may be able to help. Just enter the site address and click “Take Me Back”. You can get a look at what a website looked like years ago, sometimes even what it looked like back when it was just a name and some kind of “placeholder” ad. (Ok, a little boring at that point. Skip ahead a few years.) It’s the internet… archived.

The Wayback Machine also has some interesting collections of archived websites from the dates surrounding historic events (like 9-11) & one showing some of the “roots” of the World Wide Web. They’re working on more, I’m told.

Now, not every page of every website is there. Often it is just the front page of a site. For example, this is the earliest incarnation of the website. Which is probably only of interest to you if you want to know when tickets went on sale for the Carnegie Hall concert in 1999 (August 16th, how about that?)

And if you’d made the show, you’d have heard “Find Your Way Back”. (If you’re at work, turn the speakers down. It gets loud.)

Ok, the circle’s complete and I’ve subjected you to an 80’s pop song. My work here is done.

See you in Nashville!

— Hugh Wilson


About Clay Stafford

Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker ( and founder of Killer Nashville ( As a writer himself, he has over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print in over 14 languages. Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” ( and the music CD “XO” ( A champion of writers, Publishers Weekly has identified Stafford as playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” throughout “the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13)
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2 Responses to Finding Your “Wayback”

  1. Jamie Mason says:

    Neato! I'm going check this stuff out. I think your sessions are going to be invaluable. I'm going to sit in the front row and make faces at you.

  2. Beth Terrell says:

    Butch, awesome post. I can't wait to see what you have in mind for us at the conference!

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