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What Do Historical Maps Show?

Posted on October 05 2010

History is one of the most important subjects. It is through history that we learn valuable lessons about where we came from, how our society has evolved, and mistakes that have been made.

A lot of history is told through textbooks, which play an important part in learning about history, but it is not the only way. Historical maps are a great visual way to learn about history.

What Do Historical Maps Show

Historical maps are available on a variety of subjects. There are maps detailing Columbus’ four voyages, maps of wars and battles like the Civil War and WWII, as well as maps that show how territories and borders have changed.

The symbols and details on the map will vary depending on the purpose of the map. A map of Columbus’ voyages will show the regions from which he departed and arrived. The main feature, however, will be the ocean and the routes that he traveled, usually indicated by a solid or dashed line with each voyage represented in a different color.

Some of the most interesting historical maps are those depicting battles or wars. A historical battle map will show the area that battle occurred as well as the area each force occupied and their movements. Larger maps of wars, such as the World Wars, will usually show each side in a different color; for example the countries on the Allied side would be blue and the countries of the Axis side would be red. In addition, they often show the movements of each side and the locations of important battles.

Territory maps show the borders of states and countries have changed over the years. A good example is the United States. Over the last 200 years open land has become territories, territories have become states, and the boundaries have shifted. Some maps have different pages that you can layer and really see how things have changed.

There is so much that we can learn about our country and world through historical maps. They help to visualize important moments in history that you can’t quite see through a textbook alone.

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