What Can Historic Sites Learn From Geography?

You’d think historic sites and geography would be an obvious combination because they both focus on place, and yet, I didn’t really see the connection until a few years ago when I started teaching at George Washington University. Joe Downer, an archaeologist at Mount Vernon who was participating in my historic house museum class, inspired me with his work using ArcGIS and their annual conference. By coincidence, I was conducting research for my anthology on interpreting African American history and culture and encountered useful articles in the Journal of Historical GeographySoutheastern Geographer, and Geographical Review. Finally, my wife became the Executive Director of the Society of Woman Geographers, which introduced me to lots of geographers across the United States (you mean they don’t just create maps?). As a result, I’ve increasingly used geographical along with historical approaches in my courses and in the business and interpretive plans I develop for my clients.

Next month, I’m diving in deeper by attending a conference of geography conferences: 2018 International Geographical Union (IGU) Regional Conference; Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) Annual Meeting; and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) Annual Conference (or as they say in Quebec, Congrès régional de l’UGI – Congrès annuel de l’ACG – Congrès annuel du NCGE). Yes, it’ll be in Quebec, so I’m a bit nervous that the language and content will be foreign to me. Nevertheless, I’m encouraged by the preliminary program, which lists dozens of presentations that immediately appealed to me (and they’re in English!):

  • Mediating the Difficult Heritage of Slavery in the American South
  • Using stewardship-focus and geo-inquiry to empower future leaders
  • Intersecting Perspectives: Empowering Students to Navigate Their World as Geographers and Historians
  • Enriching Geographical and Historical Lessons with Vintage Maps
  • Mapping the Apsáalooke Landscape Using the State Giant Traveling Map of Montana
  • Educating the Public through the use of Maps & GIS: Providing Geographic Context for Museum Exhibits
  • The Online Atlas of Illinois: Interactive Mapping for Exploring the Geography of Illinois
  • Tracking Visitation in Triglav National Park
  • Tourists’ characteristics and organization of visits in the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador
  • What if it’s not about the fruit?: Community orchards as new urban commons
  • Promoting Critical Citizenship in Geography Classrooms
  • Teaching and Learning about Difference and Social Justice in the Geography Classroom
  • Envisioning Our City: Engaging Students with Urban Maps and Mapping
  • The Representation of Places in American Introductory Human Geography Textbooks
  • Developing Geographic Thinking and Spatial Skills Through Inquiry
  • Real-World Geographic Inquiry Using ArcGIS with a Historical Twist
  • Teaching Movement Through Time and Place: Historical Migration
  • ArcGIS Online and the Professional Development of American Primary and Secondary Geography Teachers
  • Towards an integrated approach for tourism landscape analysis and evaluation.
  • Place-based Learning through Thematic Analysis in Post-secondary ‘Geography’ Classrooms
  • Significance and implementation of citizenship education in geography education
  • Agency and Authenticity in a Rural Destination: Making Lived Experiences Matter in the Conceptualization of Tourist Spaces
  • Heritage Sites and Climate Change on the Small Island Developing State of Barbuda, West Indies

Wow! This is going to be great fun and I’ll let you know what I discover in a future blog post (and tweeting, too).  Perhaps you’re using geography to interpret or manage your historic site or collections. Fred Cruger at the Granite Falls Historical Society in Washington recently shared their impressive  work with maps using ArcGIS so if you’re doing something as intriguing and clever, let us know in the comments below.

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