Mapping Davidson's past

Last Sunday, I spoke at the Davidson Historical Society on using digital maps to better understand Davidson’s past.  I had come in with a fairly basic map I created using QGis (for the background layers) and Neatline (for the vector and polygon overlays, and which I’d associated information for Historypin tours of Davidson’s libraries over time as well as Main Street from the 1860s to the 1980s.

I’ve since split the individual exhibit into two separate ones: Mapping Davidson’s Past, which focuses on changes in physical space to the town of Davidson and the college over time, and Touring Davidson’s Past, which aggregates Historypin tours.

I am using  this talk as a jumping off point for the final project for this class, and as the first stage in what I’m tentatively calling the “Spatial Davidson Project.”  In the long term, this project will map changes in the town of Davidson and the College from the early 19th century to the present, provide access to georectified historical maps of the town and college and also host virtual tours.

For the purposes of this class, I’ll be working to digitize and georectify some of the the maps held by the Davidson archives, and use the Neatline timeline function to create a cohesive timeline of different representations of Davidson space.  The first map I’ve uploaded is live here.  After that, I’ll be able to begin to create shapefiles of the buildings represented on each map.    These will be useful in constructing a more cohesive representation of the construction, destruction and new construction of buildings in town and on campus.

Like Lily, I will be opening up this site for comment, and hope to solicit thoughts of long-time Davidson faculty, staff and community members, since (as we’ve learned) maps don’t always capture everything, and ever map is made with a particular agenda.


Week 11-12 – Photograph maps from the Davidson archives; obtain permission to georectify and share via neatline

Week 13-14 – Continue georectification, begin to upload maps to geoserver

Week 15 – Upload maps to the geoserver, begin to construct exhibit (select theme, add plugins, write narrative and literature review)

Week 16 – Share with colleagues and community members; solicit feedback

Week 17 – Make changes based on feedback.

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