Friday, December 27, 2013

Historical Maps in the Digital Age

Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States was first published in 1932. The Atlas contained nearly 700 maps covering a vast range of social, economic and political aspects of life in the Untied States.

Most map fans will probably be familiar with at least some of the maps featured in this comprehensive Atlas of life in America. For example Paullin and Wright's maps of rates of travel, which show how long it took to travel from New York to other locations throughout America at various points in its history, are reproduced to this day.

The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has now released an awesome online interactive showcase of the nearly 700 maps in the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. All of the maps have been made interactive and overlaid on the modern map of the United States (using Leaflet). Not only can you view all the maps using the zooming and panning tolls familiar to online map platforms but the University of Richmond has added a number of interactive features that update these historical maps for the digital age.

So, for example, the rates of travel maps can be queried by location. Mouse-over any of the rates of travel maps and you can view the distance from New York at that location and the estimated historical travel time. Or check out the historical maps of election results. Not only can you view each of the maps overlaid on the Leaflet interface but you can animate through the whole series of election results maps from 1789 to 1927.

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