North America 1851 vs. 2018

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What did geographical North America look like in 1851, and how does that compare to how it looks today?

This exhibit overlays a contemporary Google map of the North America with an 1851 historical map. Various U.S. state and Central American country borders from 1851 have been outlined and shaded in to emphasize their size and shape at the time.

Click on the layers icon in the upper right corner of the map, deselect "overlay," and zoom in to see how those 1851 state shapes compare to their current shapes.

Maine, for example, looks essentially the same. But New Mexico does not: it encompasses part of what is today New Mexico but not all of it, and also includes much of what is today Arizona. There was no Arizona in 1851.

Moreover, there is a distinct region titled "Indian Territory" in the 1851 map. Deselect "overlay" to see what that region is today.

Similarly, the country identified as British Honduras on the 1851 map is roughly equivalent to another Central American country today, but with a completely different name. There is also a country called the "Mosquito Coast" that has no equivalent on today's map.

While comparisons between these two maps indicate how the names and borders of states may have changed, they don't explain why they changed.

Your assignment is to identify one change between these two maps, research its history in order to explain it, and add items and details to our Omeka and Neatline exhibits that represent that research to a public audience. Read below the line for details.

1. Start by selecting a state or country and adding it as an item with a slug and title. Then outline it in Neatline using the polygon function to trace it and fill it in with a color of your choice. Don't forget to save every change you make. Compare that border to today's map and identify any differences.

2. Select a state or country for your research. It doesn't have to be the one you selected in #1. Your goal is to learn why these borders and/or names moved and changed, and to gather visual and textual evidence of those changes. What kinds of political, social, cultural, geographical, economic, etc. influences led to that change? How did those changes affect people living in or near this area?

3. Add at least 3 items to Omeka from your historical and archival research. Add complete Dublin Core details to each one along with a file and tags.

4. Add those Omeka items as Records to our Neatline exhibit, including the appropriate slugs.

5. Draft a short essay describing the history you discovered and how the items relate to that history. Use a text editor so that you can include the html slugs for any locations. When you are satisfied with your draft, carefully copy and paste it into this narrative box, below the line.