Contributor Spotlight: University of Chicago

This post is part of a monthly series to highlight each Big Ten Academic Alliance university that contributes to the geoportal.

Posted May 28, 2019Author: Cecilia Smith

Project Task Force Member

Cecilia Smith, GIS and Maps Librarian

Overview of Collections

The University of Chicago Library’s first contribution to the BTAA Geoportal was the Social Scientists Map Collection. The digital collection consists of 45 maps produced by UChicago sociologists in the late 19th to early 20th centuries who studied the impact of environment on behavior.

Hyde Park Community (192?) is an example of one of the 75 community areas originally delineated by UChicago social scientists in the 1920s.

The library also has contributed scans of 23 historical maps comprising the Early Maps of the Americas Collection to the BTAA Geoportal. The maps were published from 1570 to 1780 and feature European depictions of American geographies.

Jose Estrada, doctoral candidate in the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Studies Program, selected maps for digitization that show “cartographers and maps played an important role not only in the physical portrayal of the Americas, but also in the political, cultural, and scientific world.” His work was supported by a Graduate Global Impact Pitch Internship through UChicagoGRAD, a graduate student resource center on campus.

The Map Collection's Carte d'Amerique (1722) includes hand erasures and locations added after printing.

Other highlights of the collection include:

A New Map of America from the Latest Observations (1721) with California featured as an island

The Geoportal in Action

We frequently highlight the geoportal’s spatial search feature in our workshops and presentations to classes. This spatial search allows users to explore a variety of data formats from different providers and time periods. This means that scanned historical maps, like the Social Scientists Maps, are discoverable alongside contemporary GIS data. This is an efficient way for researchers to find information for longitudinal studies.

The BTAA Geoportal’s spatial search function is a great way to discover data from different domains over time for the city of Chicago.