Geospatial Visualization

As David J. Bodenhamer wrote in his article, geographic information systems (GIS) have spurred a renewed interest in the influence of geographical space on human behavior and cultural development. GIS provides us a chance to discover relationships of memory, artifact, and experience that exists in a particular place and across time. The multilayered map of Payne and Froehlich’s travel journey we were creating in the past few weeks is one potential of the spatial methods. GIS provides tools to display and analyze information geographically. By layering information on top of a map, we can visually represent data in a way that can be readily understood by other non-humanists. It enables me to find out more information with different aspects of the journey and think much more deeply on questions such as how they made their travel decision and both the natural and human environment around the places they traveled.

Maps can reveal significant data relationships that are difficult to find otherwise. First, by mapping the travel route of Payne and Froehlich, I have a general idea of the places they traveled and the routing of their journey. After putting the layer of “ Payne Froehlich Travel Journal”, the places they traveled will be shown as red labels with the order of the time they arrived. I noticed that they didn’t travel exactly follow the river and they didn’t follow the way they went through when they returned. Then, the layer of “Moravian Itinerant” shows us that Payne and Froehlich traveled to the places where was the concentrated areas of itinerancy and preaching and I think this might be a factor for Payne and Froehlich to decide their travel route since they wanted to stay with the Moravians and the people they knew. Another fun fact of mapping the journey is that we can use the tool to measure the distance between the places they traveled and figure out the miles they traveled a day. On average, they will travel 20 miles per day on foot and they will slow down if they traveled to a ferry or other unexpected events happened. For example, they stayed at Oley schoolhouse for 3 days because of the rain. Map can be worth thousands of words that it turns into a journey by adding something is contextual.

The story points that I have created are the overlaps between the plantations and the places they traveled (http://arcg.is/1cpwWN4). I wanted to discover whether there is a relationship between these two. The using of maps and spatial thinking helps me get out of the zoom of understanding the complex history. It lets me think about the plantations or the places separately and then I can combine them together to have a broad view, which is an easier way for me to comprehend the complexities of history.

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Yuting Chen

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