Telling Stories with Maps – Where was Thomas Paine Born?

Today, the 4th of July, Americans celebrate Independence Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.  To mark the day and join friends across the Atlantic in thier celebration, I present a story about Thomas Paine, the author of the influential political pamphlet, Common Sense, that stirred up the cause.

Click on the image to start the interactive map in a new tab.

Ready to place bets on the spot where Thomas Paine was born?  How close is the Thomas Paine Hotel?

Presentation of tangled ideas and webs of information is one of the challenges of genealogy.  A clear story is more likely to be understood and remembered by future generations.  The map above uses a sequence of images to organise bits of information into a sort of timeline.  Compare the same information presented without the ordering, using the ubiquitous Google maps.

Sumarising complex or large quantities of information involves compromise.  You just can’t put all the detail in and still have a clear story.  The maps above omit parts of the research that would benefit from visual presentation.  The parish boundaries of the 3 Thetford parishes wiggle through the town.  The northern end of White Hart Street lies in St Cuthbert’s and the rest of the street lies in St Peter’s.  The parish boundaries are marked on the Tithe maps, which can be viewed at the Norfolk Map Explorer, which date from around the 1840s.  This presentation overlays maps and aerial photographs.  Go and play with the layers and transparency sliders. Notice the changes in street layout.

An example of a fun presentation of map layers from different times is this map of 1836 New York. Can you spot a genealogical landmark (hint Castle Garden)?

New York 1836

Click on the image to start the interactive map in a new tab.

© Sue Adams 2014

One Comment on “Telling Stories with Maps – Where was Thomas Paine Born?”

  1. mandorac says:

    What an eye-opener this is!! I can’t wait to dabble in creating a story map. I like Spyglass, especially when talking history. So cool!


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