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State of Alabama. October. 2nd. 1866.

[Detail] State of Alabama. October. 2nd. 1866.

Chronological Thinking

Railroad Maps, 1828-1900 provides students an opportunity to study a form of transportation and its documentation while also improving their historical thinking skills. Using the collection's maps in comparative exercises, students will develop their chronological thinking and historical comprehension, while other activities draw on research and role playing to develop analysis, interpretation, and judgment.

Chronological Thinking

To look for change over time, students can compare the oldest map in the collection to the ones more recently created. Have students choose a geographic region from the Geographic Location Index. Then view the maps in chronological order. Considering maps as reflections of the railroad during the time periods in which they were created, students can look for and analyze evidence of how railroad transportation changed.

  • Where were railroad tracks first located? Where were additional tracks constructed?
  • How did the land around the railroad tracks change over time? What factors influenced these changes?
  • What new cities are shown on the maps? How did older cities change?
  • Was there a time of greater or less growth of railroad usage? Or was growth consistent over this time?

Students can also see how the technology changed over time by searching across the American Memory prints and photograph collections on train, locomotive, or railroad.