The Cartography of American Colonization Database (CACD)
For map scholars, the advent of digital technologies has created access to thousands of fragile, rare images, presented in stunning detail and vivid color. The accelerating pace of digitization, however, had bounded past the older bibliographic resources-an eclectic array of massive printed tomes-that still serve as the primary gateway to historical cartographic images. CACD seeks to organize this bewildering abundance of freely available content in ways that encourage scholars, teachers, and students to understand maps in broader geographic and historical contexts. CACD will provide links to images of 1,000 selected “milestone maps” that changed how early Americans perceived the contested spaces of the hemisphere.
It will also develop pilot modules that draw together approximately 500 other images, including unique manuscript materials, organized around specific research themes. CACD will bring together records of available high-quality digital images of maps, plans, and charts maintained by libraries and archives around the world. Although it will function as a clearinghouse of image links, bibliographic information, and other metadata from existing online collections, the CACD will be more than a “WorldCat” for early modern maps of the Western Hemisphere. Every database record will be exhaustively indexed, allowing users to conduct sophisticated searches to identify map images, link them together in a series, view and (when possible) download them. Of particular concern during this process of creating a searchable record of map information will be attention to how maps are linked to one another, by influence or shared geographic content. This dramatically enhanced searching capability will make it possible for CACD users to build maps collections tailored to their own research interests for analysis and interpretation.