Tracings (Phase 1 of the Deep Map Project)

Early on in the semester we made our first visit to the Harvard Map Collection, where Dave Weimer introduced us to a series of maps selected from the collection for their exemplary, idiosyncratic, and in some cases startling qualities. Each student selected a map and took home a large format printout of the original along with a stack of tracing paper. The assignment was to analyze the content and structure of the map. In order to better understand how the map worked each student identified, manually recreated, and explained the key elements of the map's design.

How to Navigate

The 15 tracing projects are arranged here in alphabetical order.

Use the table of contents on the left to navigate. Each section pairs a digital image of a map from the Harvard collection with the 4 layers created - on tracing paper and in pencil - by the student who studied it. 

Click on an image to get a better view. From there, you can either 

  1. open a fullsize (zoomable) view of the image OR, 
  2. by clicking on the image name, open the page containing the full explanation of the image (whether a historical map or a tracing layer). I highly recommend digging down to this level, as these pages contain wonderfully rich descriptions of the map layers.

At the bottom of each page you will see a link to the corresponding deep map. (Click here to read about the second phase of the assignment.)

Please Note: The layers themselves are digital images of large sheets of tracing paper laid out on my kitchen floor. In many cases you will notice wrinkles, shadows cast along the edges of the paper, or little blocks of wood or tape holding down the corners. Rather than attempt to sanitize the images, I have consciously preserved these subtle reminders of the intrinsic, glorious, often messy materiality of maps - even in the digital age. (Prof. O'Neill)