Are We There Yet?
An organization called City Lore has created an interactive map that fuses NYC cartography with its residents’ oral histories. Whether on the news, the subway, or even online, New Yorkers see mapped representations of their town several times a day. City Lore’s City of Memory map has deepened that visual familiarity by creating an interactive environment where users can hear vignettes from other New Yorkers about their lives. The organization, which is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation among other groups, has produced a number of the stories itself, but the general online public is free to submit their own stories for placement on the map.
This amazing project got me thinking about lesson plans involving oral histories and interactive maps. Google has easy to follow video and text tutorials that show users how to personalized Google maps including place-markers, videos, shapes, pictures, and other annotations.
I found examples for how interactive maps and oral histories can be used across the curriculum:
- The arts: Create interactive maps of artists and their works. Find open source sound clips, photos, and movies to link geography with the work of artists (Examples: Interactive tour of public art in Philadelphia, Paintmap.com, Street Art Locator).
- Social studies/science: Make maps of historical events or present-day cities (Examples: Phil Owen’s Mongol Empire map, Our Earth as Art).
- Language arts: Have students gather oral histories from friends and community members. Add these to short stories, reflections, newspaper clippings, poetry, drawings, and other media to create a lore map. (Examples: City of Memory project, Flickr’s memory maps).
Stay tuned for a more complete lesson plan.
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