January 27, 2022

U. of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab Releases Digital Edition of “Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States” First Published in 1932

Here’s new and wonderful reference resource from the University of Richmond.

From the U. of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab Web Site:

Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright’s Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas’s nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.


From The NY Times:

Paullin’s atlas was hailed in 1932 for the imaginative ways it showed change over time. The new site’s digital enhancements bring that sense of movement to further life, allowing users to pull up the fine-grained data behind many maps (most of which have been georectified, or warped to align accurately with a modern digital map), or just sit back and watch as animation shows, say, the march of women’s suffrage or other social reforms.

“We live in history the way fish live in water,” said Edward L. Ayers, the founder of the Digital Scholarship Lab and a senior consultant on the project. “It’s invisible to us, but a historical atlas can give us a sense of coherence of the larger pattern.”


The digital Paullin is only a prelude to the Richmond group’s next effort: an entirely new digital atlas, to be completed over a decade or so. This “Paullin for the 21st century,” supported with an initial grant of $750,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will update some aspects of the earlier work — Paullin’s treatment of Native Americans, Mr. Nelson said, was “pretty horrible.” It might also spice up some topics that can be, well, a little boring.

Read the Complete NY Times Article

Direct to Digital Edition of Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (1932)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.