ERIC Number: EJ1045666
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Mapping Early American History: Beyond What Happened Where
Milson, Andrew J.
Social Education, v78 n5 p216-219 Sep-Oct 2014
American history demands to be mapped. The stories of exploration, the colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, and so on are incomplete without maps to locate historical places, events, and conflicts. Yet maps can do more for the history teacher than simply illustrating what happened where or what territory was acquired when. Maps also provide clues about how the people of the past understood their world. How did early European explorers perceive the land to which they sailed? What did Thomas Jefferson know about the territory purchased by the United States in 1803? The prevalence of today's digital maps makes it easy to forget that there was a time when detailed geographic information was not available. Neither Columbus nor Jefferson had GoogleEarth to answer his geographic questions. Moreover, it was common for the maps that did exist to be inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading. The acquisition of geographical knowledge was a cumbersome process filled with myths, mistakes, and lies. There are numerous examples of historical maps that can aid in students' comprehension of the geography of the past. This article presents three maps that illuminate early American history and three strategies for teaching with historical maps. The three highlighted maps will provide students with important insight into the geographical understanding of people in the past and the implications of this limited knowledge.
Descriptors: United States History, Cognitive Mapping, Geographic Distribution, Maps, Teaching Methods, Cartography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Educational Practices, Educational Strategies, Historical Interpretation, Heritage Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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