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Migration and Settlement
Rand, McNally & Co.’s map of the United States showing, in six degrees the density of population, 1892
Rand, McNally & Co.’s map of the United States showing, in six degrees the density of population, 1892
» Lewis and Clark map: 1814
» Locations and Wanderings of the Aboriginal Tribes: 1828 (from Willard's History of the U.S.)
» Topographic map from Missouri to Oregon by J.C.Fremont: 1846
» Map showing distribution of slaves in the Southern states: based on 1860 census.
» Indian reservations west of the Mississippi, 1923


How was America settled? The Cultural Landscapes collection includes census maps, land ownership records, topographic maps and thematic maps showing economic activity. America's cultural landscape changed as settlers established homesteads, named their surroundings and developed transportation systems. Some maps depict areas occupied by Native Americans while others document the westward movement. Studying these maps can help us better understand the regional and local cultures of the United States today.
Featured Map: Using this 1892 Rand McNally map, let's explore how this type of map might be used in the classroom. Click on the caption below the map for bibliographic information. Click on the map itself to access the zoom view. What were the most populated U.S. areas in 1890? How did the center of population change from 1790 to 1890? Why? What were the least populated areas of the U.S.? Why? Did the U.S. population density change in 1880-1890? Why? What was the population density of YOUR state in 1890? What is it today?
Learning More: Click on the links at the left to explore a sampling of migration and settlement maps. View the special presentation - George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker. Link to the 1870, 1889, 1890 and 1970 US atlases - National Atlases: Presentating the Nation’s Cultural Geography. Explore the Maps of Liberia: 1830-1870 collection to view maps of the resettlement of free Black Americans in West Africa. Discover more fascinating maps in Additional Cultural Landscapes and Cartographic Items. Students can use the Primary Source Analysis Tool to analyze these maps.