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.
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.
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.
Other highlights of the collection include:
- Terrarum Orbis Geographica Ac Hydrographica Tabula (1635) with its representations of the seasons, planets, and wonders of the world
- Americae nova Tabula (1635) with depictions of indigenous peoples and important place names
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.