Tag Archives: geography

The Woman Who Transformed How We Teach Geography

14 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Baber2.jpg

On the morning of October 30, 1916, Zonia Baber stood in front of four hundred government officials and leaders in the arts and sciences and told them to go to hell.

As a representative of the University of Chicago, where she taught geography, Baber was testifying in court on behalf of the Sand Dunes of Indiana, which she argued were deserving of National Park status. She concluded by saying: “I can truthfully say that I should like to believe in the old orthodox Hades for the people who will not save the dunes now for the people who are to come.” Today, the sand dunes are part of the protected Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

So begins Leila McNeill’s concise account of Zonia Baber’s contributions to the field of geography. You may read the rest of her Smithsonian.com post here.

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Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Now Online

25 May

The Library of Congress has placed online nearly 25,000 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, which depict the structure and use of buildings in U.S. cities and towns. Maps will be added monthly until 2020, for a total of approximately 500,000.The online collection now features maps published prior to 1900.  The states available include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Alaska is also online, with maps published through the early 1960s.  By 2020, all the states will be online, showing maps from the late 1880s through the early 1960s.

Source: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Now Online | Library of Congress

One Sloppy Land Surveyor Almost Caused a “War” Between Missouri and Iowa

27 Mar

In 1839, the outcome of the “Honey War” hinged on the exact location of the Missouri-Iowa border. Sarah Laskow concisely details the developments at Atlas Obscura: One Sloppy Land Surveyor Almost Caused a War Between Missouri and Iowa | Atlas Obscura

The big, nearly 200-year-old legal issue at the heart of the Dakota Access pipeline fight

13 Mar

Tribal sovereignty is a concept that even some of the protesters may not be familiar with. But it’s important. This article by German Lopez at Vox does a fine job of clarifying some key issues and history about tribal sovereignty: The big, nearly 200-year-old legal issue at the heart of the Dakota Access pipeline fight – Vox

South Dakota Harney Peak to be Renamed Black Elk Peak: Politicians Upset

12 Aug

The renaming of a Black Hills peak would please Black Elk and Crazy Horse, I think. Read about it at Native News Online: South Dakota Harney Peak to be Renamed Black Elk Peak: Politicians Upset – Native News Online

Let’s settle it: This is what makes up the Midwest 

29 Jan

This post by David H. Montgomery in the St. Paul Pioneer Press seems a reasonable working definition about what is included in the Midwest. Historically, though, the Midwest has moved around, as have just about all the major regions have: Let’s settle it: This is what makes up the Midwest – Twin Cities

How a karma-seeking Redditor uncovered one of the world’s rarest atlases

15 Jan

A librarian who posted an old Ottoman map to Reddit later found out that it might be from a copy of the rare Cedid atlas. Read Abby Ohlheiser’s Washington Post story about it here: How a karma-seeking Redditor uncovered one of the world’s rarest atlases – The Washington Post

Geography Through the Stereoscope

13 Jan

Kristi Finefield at the Library of Congress has a fascinating post on stereographs. Read it here: Geography Through the Stereoscope | Picture This: Library of Congress Prints & Photos

Why Forest Fires Seem Like They Are Getting Out of Control

7 Sep

So fire remains an index of our times: it’s like a driverless car barreling down a highway, integrating all the relevant factors around it.  Fire is a natural phenomenon, and if humanity disappeared fire would still thrive.  But most of fire’s factors remain under the influence, though not the control, of humanity.  The pathologies of our fire scene are the national pathologies pyrolyzed into flame.  Megafires are the 1% (literally, the 0.1%) of the nation’s fires that account for 80-90% of burned area and costs.

So notes historian Stephen j. Pyne about fires. He has a new book out (Between Two Fires), but he summarizes the burden of the book in an incisive post at the History News Network. You can read his entire piece here: History News Network | Why Forest Fires Seem Like They Are Getting Out of Control

Denali and America’s Long History of Using (or Not Using) Indian Names

3 Sep

Mt. McKinley now returns to its original name: Denali. The State of Alaska wanted this, but some question the name shift. Doug Herman at Smithsonian.com provides a fascinating historical reminder of Americans, Indians, and place names, in the course of which he reminds us of one irony among many:

The story of naming places in the newly created United States after 1776 is one of forging a new identity. And yet, ironically, that identity is inextricably linked to Indians. No better example than the Boston Tea Party—the catalytic moment in which white Americans began molding a national identity—in which Bostonians employed Indian-ness as a rejection of European consciousness. The icon of the Indian conveyed a revolutionary message and was used to represent the colonial opposition to British rule.

For Herman’s entire piece, see here: Denali and America’s Long History of Using (or Not Using) Indian Names | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian

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