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Need Help with Research Project

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My name is Jake and i am a first time poster.

I am seeking out help and direction for my research project. I am taking a class on western expansion in North America. The class is based around the cause and effects of western expansion Here is the proposal for my reasearch project

Proposal#1: How did mapping and cartography influence people towards moving west?
I would investigate how mapping and cartography have influenced the pull effects towards the west. Cartography and mapping would both have a cause/effect on westward expansion. Maps are needed in order to get a sense of the direction your going especially when heading towards a totally unknown destination. Once the maps were made, the only thing people had towards going west were those maps to guide them. With those discoveries made, new information is to be processed for maps. I would want to discover the process of making maps and how information from border treaties, expeditions, etc. were interpreted and made into maps. The time period would be from 1806 when Lewis and Clark’s discoveries were mapped officially and then look at isolated events where the face of America changed, up until the turn of the 20th century.
I talked with my teacher more specifically and we came up with questions to help focus the topic

How are maps made?
How is a map commissioned?
What is one 19th Century Expedition to exemplify this process?
Who found these maps useful and how were they used?

I think people here could help me with this forum. i'm just looking to get started and find a direction to go in. If people could point me in a direction with some sources to look into or some kind of help, that would be very appreciated.


Hans van der Maarel

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Hello Jake, and welcome to Cartotalk.

Interesting research subject! Right off the bat, there's two books I'd like to recommend:
- The Mapmakers by John Noble Wilford. This dicusses mapping through the ages and has several chapters on mapping North America in the 18th and 19th century (Mason & Dixon, Lewis & Clark, Nicollet, Cook, Vancouver to name but a few)
- Mapping America (can't remember the author, but I'll try to find my copy). This goes more into the mapping of North America

Those two would be a very good starting point.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

Dennis McClendon

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You may want to look at biographies of John C. Frémont and John Wesley Powell, and look into the various surveys done in the 1850s for a transcontinental railroad route. Once you know more about the history of various maps, you can look at some of them on the David Rumsey Collection.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics

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