New UMD Story Map Unveiled

Today, in partnership with the University of Maryland Libraries’ GIS and Spatial Data center, we debut a new story map entitled “From MAC to UMD: How the University of Maryland became the campus we know today.” This new online resource visually chronicles the development of the UMD campus from its earliest days as the Maryland Agricultural College to the present. Terrapin Tales welcomes Story Map author and guest blogger Caitlin Burke, a former graduate assistant in the GIS and Spatial Data center, to describes her research process and the technology she used to create this exciting new UMD history resource. We hope you enjoy Caitlin’s post and the extensive story map she created.

story map top pageAs someone who works with and creates maps, I know maps can tell various stories. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Maps can do the same, especially looking at maps of the same location from different decades. In this project, I looked at old campus maps starting from when the University of Maryland (UMD) was Maryland Agricultural College (MAC) to tell the story of how the campus changed since its charter in 1856.

The creation of this story map took up much of my summer. My former supervisor, Dr. Kelley O’Neal, suggested I create a map that all of campus could enjoy. In the GIS library, I am known as the “story map person,” and I helped create story maps for the 2018-2019 Prange Collection exhibit and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein for the English Department. Kelley told me about University Archives’ digitized campus maps, so I thought that I could create a story map that shows how the UMD campus changed from a small, rural, 19th-century agricultural college to a large public university in the 21st century.

When I first started coming up with ideas for the map, I thought that this project might only show a few maps and could be finished quickly, but I realized that there was much more to this project. The University Archives digital repository, University AlbUM, has a TON of old campus maps, old aerial photos, and landscape scenery images that illustrate how the campus has changed over time.

caitlin first map
Map of the University of Maryland campus, 1934.

This story map was going to be bigger than I initially thought. I included so much material, but there was so much more that could have been added. However, the story map focuses on landscape, architectural and some social change. Because there is so much history for UMD, there could probably be a story map created for each decade since 1856.

I used ArcGIS, a geographic information software owned by Esri, to create the UMD story map.  For this project, I used their online platform, ArcGIS Online. UMD has a partnership with Esri, so students and faculty can get access to free ArcGIS accounts. If you’re interested in using this tool, visit the GIS and Spatial Data Center’s website for more information, instruction and tutorials.

With this story map, I wanted to show that our campus is constantly changing. New buildings and old are updated with modern technology and features, and they are made to be more suitable for students and faculty of the modern era. In the map, I cover monumental events that affected the Maryland Agricultural College, the Maryland State College of Agriculture, as the university was known from 1916 to 1920, and the University of Maryland, from 1920 to the present. Some highlights include the Great Fire of 1912, the construction of some most-recognized buildings in the 1950s, and the building boom in the 2000s.

caitlin second image
Maryland Agricultural College campus prior to the fire of 1912.

As I was creating the map, I was interested to learn about UMD’s affiliation with military training. I have always known that there is a large population of students involved in ROTC, but I didn’t know this predated World War II. The Maryland Agricultural College benefitted greatly from the Morrill Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, that required colleges and universities designated as land grant institutions to have mandatory military training to receive federal funding. ROTC wasn’t even established until World War I! To be honest, I am more interested in art history than military history, but it was fascinating to learn how involved my university is with American history.

As a UMD alum and current graduate student, this story map was very fun to create. I learned so many interesting facts about UMD from University Archives librarians Anne Turkos and Kendall Aughenbaugh that I was surprised I had not ever heard in my five years of attending UMD. Also, I could spend a whole week going through University AlbUM, the Archives’ digital repository. There are so many interesting photos of various events and people that you get lost in wondering what it would have been like to be on campus decades ago. After working on this project, I pay more attention to details on older buildings. As I walk through campus, the old architectural features and characteristics of the older campus buildings stand out to me more. After going through the story map, maybe you will notice them too.

To view the new story map, <click here>.

 

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