Through this collection, students may gain an understanding of the evolution of land ownership in North America and its relation to the development of a nation of united states. To begin, they can browse the Title Index or Geographic Location Index to get a sense of the land itself. Images of the land can enhance one's use of these maps, and may be found by searching on the names of places depicted in the maps, in American Memory's photographic and print collections. Next, they can browse the Special Presentations and search the maps on Indian for information about the first inhabitants of the land. This too can be enhanced with searches on Indian in American Memory.
Next, students can browse the Title Index and Special Presentations and search the collection on exploration and route for information about the stages of exploration that changed the ownership and use of the land for over three centuries. Searching explorer in Pioneering the Upper Midwest locates journals and narratives by explorers that bring another dimension to their study. Students can better understanding the related topic of colonization by using the 1755 map used by the negotiators at the treaty of Paris. With this map, they can also learn about the role of war in changing the ownership of land and therefore a nation's boundaries. Searching on Mexican war in American Memory, students may learn about that conflict and its impact on the development of the United States.
By searching on territory and state, students can find evidence of the manner in which the United States grew. Searching on slave and secession, in Civil War Maps, students can get a feel for the importance of states and territories to the Civil War conflict, and the precarious state of the nation before the war, reflected in changing map boundaries and designations of loyalties.
While the United States has for all intents and purposes ceased to grow, the use of its land continues to change. What other changes of land use and ownership are evidenced in the collection's maps? What do these changes suggest about the people who inhabit the land, their government, society, and values?