“Touch History” project uses MapScholar to explore the cartographic record of Quebec City

Scholar Louis-Pascal Rousseau is developing a visual exhibit of the maps, views, and key historic places of Quebec City.  He’s become an early adopter of MapScholar and has posted a few YouTube videos (in French) describing his vision for the site and the ways in which MapScholar can be tailored to a range of different projects.  Currently in the second year of a three-year NEH Digital Implementation grant, we are working with a number of partners to display maps and geospatial images about subjects as diverse as the neighborhoods of modern Los Angeles and the early plantation society of the Danish island of St. Croix.  We welcome new strategic partnerships at this stage:  they help us stretch the capacities of MapScholar to uses we didn’t anticipate.  We’ll provide the instruction and support to teach you how to program a MapScholar site; you provide some time and effort to learn the resource and how to curate your images and data within it.


New article in the JMGL

The Journal of Map & Geography Libraries: Advances in Geospatial Information, Collections & Archives has published a new article about MapScholar.  Written by MapScholar developers S. Max Edelson and Bill Ferster, “MapScholar: A Web Tool for Publishing Interactive Cartographic Collections” describes the origins of the project and especially its relevance for the new “spatial turn” in humanities research.

Abstract: MapScholar is an open-source Web tool that encourages humanities researchers to gather, analyze, and share images of historical maps. It is designed to open access to map images, visualize maps as collections within rich geospatial contexts, and enhance traditional publishing by making it easy to produce interactive, high-resolution map displays. Despite its enormous potential, map history has always been limited by the challenges of reproducing dense images printed and drawn on fragile paper artifacts. MapScholar capitalizes on the increasing availability of digital images to foster breakthroughs in map analysis and interpretation. By enabling any scholar to create an interactive digital map collection that can be “published” to illustrate a book or article, this new digital humanities tool seeks to put maps at the center of the new spatial turn in the humanities.

Library of Congress lecture first to feature MapScholar

University of Virginia history professor S. Max Edelson presented a collection of maps of the North American Indian boundary to illustrate a lecture to the Washington Map Society on March 28, 2013.  This first public demonstration of the redesigned “MapScholar 2.0” showcased the three-dimensional navigational tools of Google Earth as well as a variety of kml overlays that highlighted map details and put them into context.  To show the collection of published and manuscript maps of the North American frontier in the 1750s, 1760s, and 1770s, Edelson programmed a series of views of the maps that he advanced, in Powerpoint fashion, with a remote control “clicker.”

Edelson lecture on Caribbean Cartography features MapScholar

The Board of Trade dictated that the new islands be represented by a “Sugar Mill . . . with Slaves at work” accompanied by the Latin motto: “hae tibi erunt artes,” or, in English “these will be your arts.” This quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid refers to Rome’s glory as a colonizing power. Other cultures created great works of art, oratory, and science, ”But you, Roman, remember to rule the peoples with power (these will be your arts).” It was an apt legend for the Board of Trade’s vision of British America. No other European power was as successful at peopling new world places, developing their economies, and commanding Atlantic trade through maritime power and commercial activity.

Prof. S. Max Edelson presented one of the Eighth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography on October 5, 2012, at the University of Texas at Arlington.  His talk, “Settling the Ceded Islands: Cartography and Colonization in the British West Indies, 1763-1786,” describe how Great Britain took control over its new tropical islands–Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago–after the Seven Years’ War.   Click here to launch the “Settling the Ceded Islands” site.