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.

Final Project Dates and Tasks: Anthony Elias

For my project, I will create an exhibit that will allow users to see and have a basic idea of the map of a certain type of Davidson College student. In a sense this will be think mapping; however, instead of having many layers of maps, the base map will remain the same while the specific routes, buildings, zoom, etc.. will change. Define the Person, See the Map. Users will see different maps based on whether the student is an athlete or non-athlete, their grade, and whether they are in a Patterson Court organization or not.

Determine different variables: COMPLETED

These are the different types of students that I will use for my project.
These are the different types of students that I will use for my project.


Gathering Data: 11/5 to 11/15

My plan is to present each participant with a campus map and have them draw their ideal mental map to the best of their ability. I will have questions ready to help them  jog their memory so that they don’t forget any important spaces that might seem so routine in their daily schedule that they don’t even consider it. I will need to ask more than 1 person per ‘variable set’ in order to avoid a map that is only specific to certain people instead of certain types of students.

Making the Exhibit

Part 1: 11/15 to 11/20

With my numerous campus maps with drawn mental maps on them, I will average each variable set to form a mental map that isn’t extremely general or specific. For example, the map of a sophomore/athlete/Patterson Court Organization student could include information from a wrestler in Kappa Sigma, a football player in Phi Delta Theta, and a field hockey player from Connor House.

Part 2: 11/20-11/30

Once I have the averages of the mental maps, I will use either Google Map Engine or Neatline (I’m leaning heavily towards Neatline) to create my project. I plan on using the default view for the base map and applying different colored routes and buildings for each variable set. Instead of toggling variables on and off, the user will click through the exhibit by the tabs on the right side. Accompanied with the different routes and colored buildings, I will include a description explaining why there are similarities in differences between certain maps, and potentially include a tour of each map using Google tour builder. The exhibit should be completed by 11/30.

Last: 12/1-possible last deadline

At this point, my project should be winding down to being finished. Once I have completed my exhibit, I will take the remaining time to add any extra features or fine tune other parts. I can also have people use it before I present it to get their opinions. I believe that my argument will create an argument about how the campus is used by certain types of students. Furthermore, it will be exciting to see how much or how little of a change there is between maps of different types of students.


Final Project Plan and Schedule: Joseph Martin

These are the basic steps I think are required to create my idea for a Davidson Mapping App. The goal of this app is to provide users with easy access to descriptions of the places around Davidson Campus along with the names and mapped images usually provided.

Step 1: Location Data – (Nov. 3 – 17)

While this step is neither complex or very difficult, it could be very time consuming. Essentially, I will need to write a few sentences or more about every location that is planned to be in the app. While many of the popular buildings can be written up immediately, I will have to do research about the important qualities of the other buildings as well as what important rooms or departments are contained within them. This research will be done by either talking to students and faculty who use the buildings, or by traveling onsite to the respective places to gather the data.

Step 2: Input Button/Screen System  – (Nov 15-24)

The essential structure of this app will give users the ability to tap buttons that represent each building/area which will take them to the short description of the area in question. Again, this process will be more tedious than complex, as each button should have almost the same programming, with only differing destinations. The features will also include buttons that take users to screen containing descriptions of features located within or directly related to the area currently being described.

Step 3: Extra Features – (Nov 24-End)

At this point, the basic purpose of the app is complete. Users can get information about the places on the Davidson map simply by tapping the building in question. However, at this stage the app is very bare bones, and so a variety of features are planned to be implemented, given that the project has not varied far off schedule by this point.

Possible Features to be Implemented

Search Function: Allow users to search for descriptions based on name, rather than finding the place on a map. This would be very useful for those who are looking for a place inside another building. That might not be able to be tapped from the map.

Locator: Allow users to choose a place in the description list and be taken to an image where that place is clearly shown on the Davidson map.

User Input System: A much more complicated feature that would allow users to make suggestions about potential additions or changes that the app might need, either from a lack of including it in the first place or to adapt to changed circumstances as time goes on.

Project Time Table



Friday November 21st – Literature Review Completed

Tuesday December 2nd – Have tested project on participants

Thursday December 18th – Final Day to Turn in Project