Designing Spatial Histories for Undergraduate Use: The American Yawp Atlas

Ben Wright, University of Texas at Dallas

The American Yawp is an American history textbook published by Stanford University Press, available free and online at Each semester, the text receives nearly four million hits from over 440,000 unique users. Using collaborative scholarship from over 300 credentialed historians, the text offers a coherent and accessible narrative from all the best of recent historical scholarship. However, there is at least one glaring weakness of the text: a lack of quality, historical maps that harness the potential of the digital medium through interactive representations of historical processes. The rise of historical GIS has brought an explosion of interactive maps of the American past. However, these projects exist largely in isolation with one another, segregated from the sources that most instructors consult when assembling curriculum. Moreover, even if an instructor can find a resource, there remains the issue of usability. Despite rhetoric claiming the contrary, many (if not most) historical GIS maps remain too unwieldy for use in survey courses. This presentation seeks to reflect on the status of historical maps in survey courses and outline the creation of The American Yawp Atlas: An Open Spatial History of the United States. This project will include the creation and curation of undergraduate-accessible, interactive maps designed for use in college-level American history survey courses.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 228. Public Facing Historical Big Data Projects: Challenges and Opportunities