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Atlas of US Historical Geography Digitized

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the over-time dept.

United States 24

memnock writes "Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932, has been digitized by The Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. From the website: 'Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas's nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.'"

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3 3 3 (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 8 months ago | (#46138771)

There goes my next 10 weekends :P

On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (5, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | about 8 months ago | (#46138793)

I can't seem to find what licence the above work is under.
Great - I can go and browse it.
Can I print out a cake with a small map from the above site on and sell it to commemorate a local event.
Or t-shirts?
Or...

oDBl, CC-by, Crowley, ...

Re:On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#46139129)

As far as I can determine, the content should be in the public domain.

First, on the book itself. As a 1932 book, it isn't automatically public domain, since only books published before 1923 are old enough to automatically be public domain due to age. However, works published between 1923 and 1963 had to file copyright renewals after 28 years to receive an extended copyright, and it's estimated that Michael Lesk, the Stanford Library [stanford.edu] , and a transcription effort by Project Gutenberg volunteers, the complete book renewal records are now indexed in machine-readable / searchable form, so you can pretty reliably determine whether a book from 1923-1963 (assuming the U.S. was the original place of publication) is out of copyright. And this one does not appear [stanford.edu] to have had its copyright renewed.

Having determined that the original book is out of copyright, any scans of it are probably also out of copyright, since a scan of a work doesn't constitute a new creative work, merely a reproduction of the original, so a new copyright doesn't attach. The leading U.S. case there that's generally followed is Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel [wikipedia.org] , which held that Corel wasn't violating Bridgeman Art Library's copyright by copying their JPGs of paintings from a CD-ROM, because JPGs of public-domain paintings don't get a new copyright. Though it isn't a Supreme Court case and isn't binding on all courts, it seems to be generally followed.

Re:On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#46139149)

...works published between 1923 and 1963 had to file copyright renewals after 28 years to receive an extended copyright, and it's estimated that Michael Lesk, the Stanford Library, and a transcription effort by Project Gutenberg volunteers.

Dammit, this got garbled because Slashdot barfed on a less-than sign. What this should have said:

...works published between 1923 and 1963 had to file copyright renewals after 28 years to receive an extended copyright, and it's estimated that less-than 10% of books had their copyrights renewed. Until recently, this was difficult to take advantage of, since you had to tediously go through paper volumes of the copyright-renewal records to try to hunt for a renewal. So in practice people treated 1923-63 books as in copyright, even though more than 90% aren't, because it was impractical to determine with certainty whether a particular book was. However, thanks to work by Michael Lesk, the Stanford Library, and a transcription effort by Project Gutenberg volunteers, the complete book renewal records are now indexed in machine-readable / searchable form...

Re:On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (-1, Troll)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 8 months ago | (#46139775)

That's the most blatant form of Karma whoring I've ever seen; combine that with a 3 digit user ID and I am officially appalled.

Re:On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140169)

I'd rather have the karma go to someone with the decency to provide an articulate answer than any of the myriad sarcastic-aggressive trolls with ID numbers.

Re:On a 'missing the spirit' question - licence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46141127)

If you want a < you need to enter &lt;

Ohmygod ohymgod ohmygod (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#46138863)

Explore moments where third-party candidates affected the outcome of presidential elections.

I just came.

Re:Ohmygod ohymgod ohmygod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46138981)

Cheers!

Contacts for bug reports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46139227)

I didn't see any contact information for bug reports. For example, if I go to the plate at http://dsl.richmond.edu/histor... [richmond.edu] and hover my mouse over Boston, it reports a speed of about -3500 MPH. I doubt that people could fly at minus thirty five hundred miles per hour in 1930.

Re:Contacts for bug reports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46139387)

I doubt that people could fly at minus thirty five hundred miles per hour in 1930.

maybe it was the ufo with the alien that didn't return home which prompted another alien ufo to come looking for him but crashed near roswell

or maybe the enterprise went back in time to 1930 and finally found reverse

Isls de los dadrones (1)

genocism (2577895) | about 8 months ago | (#46139389)

Great, I just discovered I live on the "island of thieves".

Re:Isls de los dadrones (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about 8 months ago | (#46141627)

Considering it was taken off the native Americans, all of the modern Americas could be described as that... ;-)

TWO 21st century public domain distribution models (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 8 months ago | (#46139565)

Project 'A'
1. scan/digitize and 'snap' maps to geo coords and add markup
2. create website using active server scripts and HTML/js for drag/zoom navigation
3. release to the world with great fanfare
4. site is slashdotted, then eventually settles down to several terabytes/mo bandwidth
5. one year in, site is on the radar of cost/benefit analysis as an escalating expense
6. two years in, routine site changes break the atlas with few to mourn it (and,or) the bean counters pull the plug on it

Project 'B'
1. just scan maps in high res, don't bother to 'snap' because they are not to be used for navigational porpoises. Embed them in low-loss huge PDF.
2. place the entire package on the BitTorrent network with the University committed to keeping a perpetual seed online
3. build a static website giving a low-res 'taste' of the product, instructing students on how to set up BitTorrent and explaining the advantages to human civilization if you obtain and browse your own local copy, and many people all over keep an archive of this this precious historical work.
4. ten years later, there are several thousand copies of the work stored on several continents, ten seeds online (including the University who never experienced any serious bandwidth inconvenience) and the walls of many places are adorned with countless prints of these maps.

I'm all for pointy and clicky forms of ENTERTAINMENT, but for the same purposes as is served by a library, Project B looks like a really sound endeavor.

Re:TWO 21st century public domain distribution mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46139703)

As someone who works in a University, the delivery system is more important than the cost benefits associated with infrastructure or P2P archival. The latter has no guarantees of spawning dozens or even hundreds of copies worldwide, and the pain of installing, securing, and teaching the operation of torrent for humanities faculty and researchers.

If you want a copy of the map, just email the folks. I bet they'll be happy to provide you with them. Ship them your external hard drive with a SASE. It's like the rare archives - just schedule a visit and you'll have a curator bring you out the rare books.

The high-res PDFs as a weblink has been tried in the past. My institution has digitized thousands if not millions of books already. In the end, people are just lazy or don't bother searching for them. At least it guarantees job security for our librarians. Torrent is just another added layer of tech difficulty.

Cross-platform usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140839)

One problem is browser compatibility. All they let us use at work is IE 8, and the atlas doesn't appear to work in it.
But everybody can open a PDF.

Re:TWO 21st century public domain distribution mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140063)

My thoughts also. The 1932 book looks like a wonderful resource and I would love to have a copy (both hardbound paper and pdf).

The enhanced web version (Project A) is fun, but I really wonder about the longevity of it versus a good PDF/A version (Project B).

Don't worry about the torrent distribution, but do setup a couple official mirrors.

Re:TWO 21st century public domain distribution mod (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 8 months ago | (#46140429)

Doing A does not preclude doing B. In fact, they'd probably enjoy it if someone volunteered to do B.

My guess as to why they did A is:
1. There's the "ooh, shiny" effect that makes donors to the project know that their money went to what the grant applications said it was for.
2. The people who put it together probably believe (with good reason) that they might have expertise in fitting the maps together, and the goal of the project was more to make use of that expertise to make things more coherent than it was to simply put the maps online.
3. The maps are almost definitely available in their library to those who want them. They may even already have simple digital scans of the book available since it's public domain.

Re:TWO 21st century public domain distribution mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46141471)

There's no reason not to georeference the files under "Project 'B'". Doing so makes the resulting product much more useful to anyone who wants to bring the data into their local GIS software. Not doing so increases the amount of work required to make use of the maps and in practice will reduce the amount of usage the maps get.

If you're going to use the maps in any sort of professional setting, they need to be georeferenced. Might as well do that work up-front rather than forcing each individual user to do their own, slightly different, georeferencing.

Stunning. (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 8 months ago | (#46139969)

The organization is wonderful - clicking through serial maps of settlements, the movement of slave populations, native populations, transportation modes is incredibly informative. When my grandparents we born there were two - count'em - two - actual cities in Arizona. No wonder they stayed in New England. What happened between 1800 and 1810 in LA that moves slaves there? Or the same in TX from 1840-1850?

Re:Stunning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140419)

The organization is wonderful - clicking through serial maps of settlements, the movement of slave populations, native populations, transportation modes is incredibly informative. When my grandparents we born there were two - count'em - two - actual cities in Arizona. No wonder they stayed in New England. What happened between 1800 and 1810 in LA that moves slaves there? Or the same in TX from 1840-1850?

If LA means Louisiana, then it's technology, specifically the cotton gin. My students (I teach US history at a couple of colleges) are always astounded at how slavery is so directly related to the sugar industry at first, then at the cotton industry. And follow those two staples around on the map.

As for Texas, when the soils wore out in the southeast, cotton and thus slavery moved west to new lands (along with the Compromise of 1850 opening up the southwest to slavery).

(that's the short answer that most people agree with that are historians. There could be other influences (like the spread of the railroad system), but they're probably minor contributors to the pattern you noticed.

Re:Stunning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46142983)

Sorry, AC, you may know a little history but I can't believe anyone who's been to college doesn't know the different US state identifiers (MO Missouri, IL Illinois, ME Maine, LA Louisiana, etc).

Georectified (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140131)

I'm not a cartigrapher, but it looks like they did georectified to a bad cooridinate system. The original maps look more correct in many cases.

The relative distances are badly skewed between the north edge and the south edge.

Someone with better knowledge can describe the differences between different map projections and why this choice was wrong.

Animate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46140133)

I've tried Firefox, Chrome and even IE but I've been unable to get the Animate button to do anything. It isn't always present, so I've been guessing that when it appears, it should be active. But it doesn't seem to be. Has anyone else been able to get it to work? If so, was there a trick and will you share it?

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