Dickinson College / Gilder Lehrman Institute

Category: Mapping

“That is one angry map”

I started the new year with a piece of art to begin a conversation. The piece:

Picture 021

State Names; 2000; Jaune Quick-To-See Smith; Born: St. Ignatius, Montana; 1940; oil, collage and mixed media on canvas; 48 x 72 in. (121.9 x 182.9 cm); Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Elizabeth Ann Dugan and museum purchase; 2004.28; Smithsonian American Art Museum

Here are some of their insights:

It has a rusty red color on the top of it to represent the war
A new generation is coming and the old generation is being stripped away
Caging in America
Chaotic Unification
It looks like it is all moving together into one
Dying … disintegrating … falling apart … no one knows what’s going on
Some names have drips covering them but the others seem to pop out
It looks like melting wax
Something is spreading down, like war or migration
Bloody death
It looks like war. And it looks like everything is falling apart.
The top right states look like the drops are icicles
Blood running down Dakota… most bloodshed there
The oceans are black yet the Great Lakes are grey
Everything to the east side has no borders … like one big state

States Names Observations 2012

I played with Tagzedo to create a word cloud of their observations.

Layers and Fusion Tables: the future of historical research?

Chris Bunin boldly led us into the world of GIS yesterday, and he has provided a number of documents to help you make the technology a part of your teaching.

Toward the end of his presentation, Chris noted that he was excited to hear that no one had explored GIS just yet — because that meant everything he presented was new.  And yet, he wishes the technology were more widely used and embraced.

What do you think?  Will GIS shape some of your lessons next year?  Are there particular aspects of our course that would be easier or more difficult to illustrate using GIS?

Kansas and the Civil War:Unit Plan

Standard: Kansas History

Benchmark 3: The student understands individuals, groups, ideas, events, and
developments of the territorial period and the Civil War in Kansas.

This student will:
1. explain the concept of popular sovereignty under the Kansas-Nebraska Act. 2. explain why control of the Kansas territorial government was affected by the fight over slavery. 3. describe the influence of pro-and anti-slavery ideas on territorial Kansas (e.g., Bleeding Kansas, border ruffians, bushwhackers, jay-hawkers, the Underground railroad, free state, abolitionist). 4. describe the causes and consequences of Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence during the Civil War

These are just parts of some of our 7th grade standards in Kansas for my unit I thought I would concentrate on the time period between the Kansas-Nebraska act and Quantrill’s raidLincoln Tagxed Kansas

William Clarke Quantrill


Leader of perhaps the most savage fighting unit in the Civil War, William Quantrill developed a style of guerrilla warfare that terrorized civilians and soldiers alike. Quantrill was born in 1837 in Ohio, but little is known of his early life. It appears that after being a schoolteacher for several years, he travelled to Utah in 1858 with an army wagon train and there made his living as a gambler, using the alias of Charles Hart. After a year, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he was again a schoolteacher from 1859 to 1860. But his past and predisposition soon caught up with him and, wanted for murder and horse theft, Quantrill fled to Missouri in late 1860..

This is obviously a work in progress but my plan is to have two google maps one of Quantrill’s entrance into Kansas from Missouri and of his masterful escape out of Kansas, the other would be a google map of Lawrence, ks and the location of the murders and destruction maybe even a virtual tour.


Valley of the Shadow

The archives on this sight are unbelievable. My favorite part is the animated battlefield. I was amazed at the number of battles some of these units were involved with like the First Virginia Cavalry they must have been in 20 battles. I liked the assignment ideas Will came up with. The first one was selecting a family and follow them throughout the war. The election of 1860 through newspapers and finally what were women’s lives like. I could see anyone of these being short term or long term projects and being able to set a difficulty level for each of them for example seventh graders could talk about one battle or one person whereas 8th graders could go more in depth.

Teacher’s Tour of Gettysburg

Take a teacher’s tour of Gettysburg as Matt guides you through the battle’s turning points, illustrating some of its most significant personalities and acts of heroism while sketching the bigger picture of the Gettysburg Campaign.






Abraham Lincoln in Kansas

In 1859 Abraham Lincoln visited Kansas from November 30th through December 5th . He had been invited by a distant relative Mrs. Mark W.Delahay. Her husband Mark Delahay had a personal friendship with Abraham Lincoln originating with their mutual cause in establishing the Republican Party.In 1859, Delahay sought the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat for Kansas.This is history that Kansas students seem to really enjoy and it gives them a sense that our state was an important part of US history especially from the 1850’s and throughout the time period of the Civil war. I tell them the towns he visited and what he did and said while he was there.

  • Lincoln crossed the Missouri river from St. Joseph Missouri and arrived in Elwood, Kansas delivering his first Kansas speech November 30,1859
  • Traveled to Troy on a cold morning gave a 2 hour speech and that same day traveled ten miles to Doniphan and spoke again December 1,1859
  • Friday morning December 2, 1859 travels to Atchinson gives a 2 hour speech and learns that John Brown was hung for treason.
  • Travels to his final Kansas destination in Leavenworth and stays with the Delahay family whom he was a distant relative to.
  • Much of his Cooper Union Speech was used while in Kansas . The future President thought Kansas would be a good testing ground for his famous New York City speech.

I have attempted to create a Google Map to show you where Abraham Lincoln traveled while in the state of Kansas.

Test Driving Google Maps with John Brown Locations

Have been playing with Google Maps. If I can work out all of my kinks with it, it looks like a cool tool to use with students. Struggling with integrating my personal pictures rather than off the internet. Struggling as well with the interface. I’m used to WYSIWYG and this is a little more labor intensive so that probably speaks more to my laziness than anything else.

The handout really helps though. Thank you!

The map is of the different places John Brown traveled while he was an active abolitionist. So far have two sites in Kansas, two in Virginia (West Virginia) and one in Canada. I had a few more, but delete really means delete in Google Maps.

Try this link to my map. If it doesn’t work, would you let me know and I will keep trying.



Visualizing Emancipation

We’re so glad that Rob Nelson and Scott Nesbit could join us today to offer an introduction to Visualizing Emancipation.  Make sure to explore the site — and start imagining how you could use it with your students.  The worksheet and lesson plan Rob and Scott shared should help you to get started.

Let us know your thoughts.  Will Visualizing Emancipation or Mining the Dispatch make an appearance in your classroom next year?

Also, make sure to keep in touch with Rob and Scott as you develop ways of using their work.  Write to them at rnelson2@richmond.edu and snesbit@richmond.edu.

Mid-19 Century United States in Global Perspective?

  • The bidirectional nature of the UGRR
  • The Northern states rights battles and nullification attempt
  • Harriet Scott as the primary force driving the Dred Scott Case onward
  • Publicizing the UGRR for fundraising purposes

Are all ideas that are running around inside my head since Matt’s lecture yesterday – thanks for the enticing glimpse into your work and the current research in the field today.

After reading Loilaing’s post commenting on connections in the West Indies, I am interested to learn more about the impact of the abolition of slavery  -and serfdom – across Western and Eastern Europe, and South and Central America on mid 19thC North America? I reckon it emboldened and encouraged abolitionists in reverse proportion to the terror it struck in the hearts of those interested in maintaining their ‘peculiar institution’ – but perhaps I am missing nuances and/or other effects?

And beyond slavery, how heavily did global events affect the union preservationists’ thinking? For instance, in McPherson’s For Cause and Country the northern immigrant soldier writes his father in England that preserving the union is important because otherwise the West might decide to break off next and “this country would be as bad as the German states”. What other global events were impacting North America toward war?

I found a great online discussion published in last September’s Journal of American History that treats the last of these questions; looking at nation building and nationalism globally at the time of the Civil War. I recommend a glance if you are remotely interested. Interchange: Nationalism and Internationalism in the Era of the Civil War
Thinking about the UGRR as a resistance movement is very helpful to my own understanding – I found myself thinking of similarities to the resistance movements across Occupied Europe during WWII. The insight from The Old Carlisle Courthouse clip that this was a resistance being fought in courtrooms can pull my students up out of the underground and into a more accurate understanding of what was happening at that time.

textbooks and URR routes

The American Journey is a ubiquitous middle school text, and I have used it in Michigan and Washington. This screenshot is from page 423 of the 2005 edition:

As mentioned in today’s wrap-up, students typically perceive the URR as having been “Mississippi to Maine.” What this map shows, however, is that the majority of escapees made their flights from starting points along the boundary with the North.

I occasionally have students who paid attention in 1st through 7th grades, and these are sometimes offended by my attempt to disabuse them of their perception of the URR. They remember “follow the drinking gourd” and “Harriet Tubman,” and only reluctantly let go of their certainty that most escaped slaves traversed hundreds of miles of hostile territory to attain freedom. Close study of the map is a bit of a buzzkill; slaves who simply stepped from Maryland into Pennsylvania don’t make for such exciting stories.

We may not get to it in this course, but another Gilder Lehrman contributor, David Blight, offers his perspective on the mythologies surrounding Americans’ views of the Civil War. He talks, quite eloquently, about the different types of memory associated with it. His take on “emancipationist memory” is a nice corollary to this course. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. (also in iTunes University)

My son came home from 1st grade to tell me about a railroad that was dug “under the dirt so the bad people won’t find them,” and “they came up at night to find the drinking gourd and get fresh water.”

We have work to do.


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