The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) a three-year, $750,000 grant to develop a digital atlas of American history.
The DSL, which opened in 2007, is a digital humanities center that works to digitize historical research, thereby making it more accessible to historians, students and the public.
Since then, the members of this small organization have tackled a series of historical projects. The “Visualizing Emancipation” initiative offers a geographic perspective of slavery’s end during the Civil War, while “Voting America” maps presidential elections since 1840 and congressional elections since 1992. Members have also engineered “Redlining Richmond,” which illustrates residential security grades that the government assigned to neighborhoods in Richmond during the Great Depression.
Now, with this grant from the Mellon Foundation, the DSL team is taking on a new project: the digitization of Charles O. Paullin’s 1932 “Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States.”
The atlas features five maps that illustrate rates of travel by depicting the time it took to move from New York to other parts of the country during the years 1800, 1830, 1857 and 1930. When viewed together, these maps show how the development of roads, canals, railroads and air travel compressed the country.
Though the maps in the atlas are not able to be adapted, the digital representation will combine all five maps into one, offering a more comprehensive explanation of how infrastructural developments revolutionized travel throughout America.
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