Last Unit 2 Workshop: Maps and Mapping

Begin with the Instagram feed of the Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library; every day they post an interesting historical map.

The BPL Leventhal Center also has a digital exhibition up now, through April 2024, titled Getting Around Town: Four Centuries of Mapping Boston in Transit

Check out some of these map-related links:

A 2014 Map of US with states labeled by how they’re ranked “worst” (Maps on the Web Tumblr — which also posts at least one map a day)

What if the NY Subway Map stops were all renamed for women?

Current wind patterns

One Author Reimagined North America and its internal regions as 11 nations in 2012 – how well has his analysis held up over the last ten years?

2022 was the last redistricting year, which happens every decade in every state. Try your hand at redrawing Congressional districts

Mapping “witchcraft” in case law

Map slave voyages during the era of the transatlantic slave trade (

You might also want to spend some time with a few other links related to historical maps or mapping as a historical research method. A 2017 article in Forbes magazine talks about how digital mapping helps us understand racism and the history of segregation, including:

An especially expansive and beautiful digital library of maps (at high resolution) is David Rumsey Map Collection (Stanford University)

Stanford also hosts the Mapping the Republic of Letters project from Dan Edelstein and Paula Findlen, tracing (and mapping) the trajectory of thousands of letters from the pens of European Enlightenment writers. Here’s a brief video explaining the project:

Other innovative projects work with recreating or layering historical maps to create digital environments of the past:

Government Documents Workshop Day, March 10

Group Work Google Docs

Muller v. Oregon
Schenck v. US
Buck v. Bell
Roe v. Wade

Other Government Document Resources to Explore

Congressional Record up to 1875

List of Federal Agencies

Milestone Documents of the U.S. Government

Government Printing Office: FDsys

Government Documents online, via the Internet Archive

America’s Founding Documents virtual exhibit on the National Archives website

State Constitutions
(University of Maryland Baltimore)

US Serials Set (some of which are online, some of which are only in bound volumes in depository libraries)

Checklist of Government Publications, 1789-1909

Understanding Su Doc Classification Numbers: an online tutorial (Michigan State U)

Research Guides of the Library of Congress

Locating Congressional hearings, a Beginner’s Guide (Library of Congress)

See also Senate hearings on the US Senate website

Federal Register (National Archives, since 1994)

Supreme Court cases: see the US Supreme Court website, also the Oyez Project

National Security Archive – a massive document dump of declassified material from FOIA requests (George Washington University)

Native American Tribal Law, Constitutions, and Treaties – National Indian Law Library

Miller Center for Presidential Studies (University of Virginia)

American Presidency Project (Univ of California Santa Barbara)

Many 20th-century presidents have Presidential Libraries: e.g. Nixon, Truman, FDR, Hoover

Massachusetts State –
Massachusetts Archive Collection (1629 – 1799)
MA Historical Legal Documents and Laws

Radio and Recorded Sound Workshop Day

This week we explore sources which existed as sound recordings, sound performances,
or audio in some form. Learning to “read” and interpret these sources is quite different from handwritten documents and scientific evidence we’ve we worked with so far, but they are an important part of the cultural landscape of the past.

For Monday Reading: Susan Douglas, “Radio Comedy and Linguistic Slapstick,” from Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination.

Read not only for content (in this case, her chapter is about radio comedy and some of its notable programs and stars), but also for historical method: HOW is she writing about sound? HOW is she using radio programs as historical evidence? How does she construct an argument using evidence which she cannot “show” us as text or illustrations, but must describe for us–since we cannot hear it along with her? In one sense, Douglas must translate the shows into a written form, just as the shows themselves must translate physical comedy and “sight gags” into linguistic/aural comedy and “sound gags.”

If you’d like to hear the people / shows she discusses…
Amos ‘n’ Andy
Joe Penner
Ed Wynn
Eddie Cantor
Burns and Allen
Jack Benny
Who’s On First (Abbott and Costello)

For Wednesday, everyone’s assignment *ahead of time* is to listen to at least an hour of old-time radio or recorded sound and be ready to share your findings with the class. Bring headphones for private listening during the workshop, too.

Library of Congress Recorded Sound Division
Their blog is called “Now See Hear
LOC Audio Collections
American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Chase down old radio through these links or through Youtube (ignoring any visuals, of course): – Old Time Radio Network – this is a fabulous old-time radio website, but its best content is by subscription only. The link goes to a selected list of free downloads.

All the programs of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater of the Air are online, including the 1938 Halloween “War of the Worlds” broadcast that so terrified the East Coast. (Better quality audio may be found on YouTube)

National Jukebox (Library of Congress) is a massive digital archive of recorded sound prior to 1925.

Thomas Edison’s Attic is an archived radio program and podcast that replays old recordings (wax cylinder, phonograph and other now-extinct exotic formats) from the Edison National Historic Site’s collection – lots of interesting old American sounds from 1888-1929

Rand’s Esoteric OTR is a blog & podcast of the author’s gigantic collection of transcription disks (i.e. records of radio shows meant for later playback), many of them from Armed Forces Radio during WW2. A great source for high-quality web broadcasts of old radio programming.

Vintage Radio Scripts can be found here

Internet Archive’s Old Time Radio section has a lot of material, including news from the 1930s, and WWII news recordings

Other resources, museums and archives for radio history:

Old Time Radio Researchers Group

Vintage Radio and Communications Museum, Windsor CT

Pavek Museum, Broadcasting Hall of Fame (St. Louis, MN)

Museum of Broadcast Communications (Chicago)

American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WBGH, Boston)

Other Links for Class This Week: Fibber McGee’s closet (1940), 1930s Radio News (Hindenberg #67-68) — footage & description on later newsreel, On the Media “The X Factor” (2007), Frasier S4 Ep18 “Ham Radio,” available on Hulu.