15 May 2014

NGS 2014 Family History Conference -- Session T222 -- Oh, The Things you Can Map: Mapping Data, Memory, and Historical Context

Google composite of map images from HOLC collection
Another in the series on sessions I attended at the NGS 2014 Family History Conference.

T222 Oh, The Things you Can Map: Mapping Data, Memory, and Historical Context, Stefanie Evans, CG, Syllabus page 183

A big takeaway from this talk was that “maps are NOT neutral.”  Maps are always created with a purpose and it’s important to understand that purpose when using and interpreting what any map shows.  Additionally, maps do contain errors – just like vital records and other documents we regularly refer to, just because something is “official” doesn’t always mean that it is accurate.

She also talked about having those we reach out to create “mental maps” of where they lived, where they traveled, their neighborhood and so forth.  This really rang a bell with me.  I can still mentally drive from my childhood home all over town and yet I could tell you very few street names – though I remember landmarks, where select people lived, and much more – some of which are no longer extant.

Stefanie introduced me to a map group which I was not familiar with -- Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC).  Some of these maps are found online.  I did a quick search and found maps for OH, Hartford (CT), and select cities across the country. NARA II also holds maps for select cities.  I also found out that there is an NC project, Dividing Durham: HOLC’s Survey of the Bull City. Additional NC cities which were mapped/redlined were Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. I also suggest that you check any archives for lawsuits brought by individuals against HOLC as a result of how their property was characterized.

The associated syllabus pages provide a great overview of the talk (which covers so much more than my brief summary) and also include a bibliography.

Editor’s Note: This session was NOT recorded.  Hopefully a friend attended the conference and you can learn more!
Editor’s Note: This series is not presented in any particular order.

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