Friday, December 20, 2013

The Top Five History Maps of 2013


Tacky's Rebellion, was an uprising of black African slaves that occurred in Jamaica in May, June and July 1760. The Jamaican Slave Revolt Map tells the story of the revolt, and its brutal suppression by the British Army.

Using contemporary accounts the map animates through the important events and locations in the rebellion and subsequent suppression. A number of eighteenth-century maps were used to create the terrain map and the places map, which form the base maps for the narration.

The Jamaican Slave Revolt map was created by Vincent Brown, Professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. Brown says that "the map suggests an argument about the strategies of the rebels and the tactics of counterinsurgency, about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising".


One of the best history maps I saw this year is this ESRI map displaying the Decisive Moments in the Battle of Gettysburg. The map shows troop movements and the development of the battle during July 1 – 3, 1863.

The map tiles are based on an 1874 map of the area and also present-day digital data. The troop positions are determined from historical maps. The map also includes an interactive time-line that allows the user to view the development of the battle over the whole three days.


This year saw the 70th anniversary of the World War II Dambuster raids. On 16–17 May 1943 an attack on German dams, carried out by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", used a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis.

To commemorate the anniversary the BBC put together an interactive map that retraces the mission. The interactive uses a hand-drawn map from the official June 1943 British Air Ministry report on the Dambusters raid. The map shows the routes taken by the planes, the location of the planes that crashed and the location of the German dams.


The Vilnius Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania. During the two years of its existence, starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment and deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated 40,000 to zero.

Exploring the Vilnius Ghetto: A Digital Monument is a Leaflet powered map that shows over two hundred points of historical significance, pulled from memoirs, archives, original Ghetto documents and artifacts, and oral and historical accounts. Users can explore the map on their own, using filters to find places and events of interest; or they can follow built-in stories.


What did teenagers do before cell phones, video games and the internet? I know - they made maps.

At least that what Frances Alsop Henshaw was doing in the 1820's. Henshaw's 'Book of Penmanship Executed at the Middlebury Female Academy' contains a number of hand-drawn maps of nineteenth century America.

Neatline.org has used its map timeline tool to create an interactive presentation of Henshaw's beautiful hand-drawn maps. 'Inventing the Map': Frances Henshaw’s Book of Penmanship uses the Google Maps API to overlay Henshaw's nineteenth century maps on today's map of America.

The accompanying text for each map places Henshaw's map exercises into the context of her education and the particular influence of educational reformer Emma Willard.
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