Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Past Mapped Out

Randall Stephens

As Geography without History seemeth a carkasse without motion; so History without Geography wandreth as a Vagrant without: a certaine habitation.

- Captain John Smith

Geography was many things without a doubt, but for the young Frenchmen shut in classrooms, in ugly and sullen study rooms (the bottom painted chestnut, the top in dirty ochre, and above the bent heads, the pale and stifling light of gas) . . . geography was fresh air, a stroll in the countryside. the journey back with an armful of broom and foxglove, eyes cleaned out, brains washed, and the taste of the "real" biting the "abstract."

- Lucien Febvre

As the semester revs up, quite a few history profs are looking on-line for primary source docs, web-based activities, digital images, and on-line map collections. I use a healthy does of maps and map progressions in the various courses I teach. I've also just started giving more map quizzes. As an undergrad, I always felt I gained a great deal from historical geography. Not sure if that's the same experience as my students. Yet, quite a few seem to appreciate the historic context of changing boundaries, the view of how landscape shapes culture, the movement of peoples, demographics, and the like. Here are some of the sources I turn to:

History Maps for the Classroom:

Map Central (Bedford/St. Martin's). World, western, and American maps.

American: A Narrative History (W. W. Norton). Map and image resources for American history.

Western Civilizations, 16th Edition (W. W. Norton). Features Map Player, a slide show with audio.

The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Third Edition (Houghton Mifflin)

Stanford University Library, list of African Maps

Antique Maps:

Also of Interest:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was a fantastic exhibit at the British Library on the history of maps:

Included many rare and enormously sized maps from European history. It's quite different to see the real maps up close than to see them in books.

-Scott Berkun (