Innovations in Mapping was a 5-week course taught at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 2016. 32 students with a variety of backgrounds took this History/Environmental Studies course, the first Laboratory course ever offered in the History department at Bates.

Katie McDonough designed the course to incorporate historical mapmaking experiences as a method for interpreting the past. From early modern to very recent mapping practices, our challenge was to use these re-created experiences to foster discussion about how maps are defined, who participates in mapping, and what impact technologies have on map making and use.

This website showcases student work including lab reports and final projects. Some of the final projects are workflows for future mapping projects that we hope will be useful to Bates, Maine, or other communities.

Course materials – including the syllabus and experiential mapping labs – are available here for reference and re-use (note the CC license details in the footer). Please address questions and comments to Katie McDonough at kmcdono2 at

Check out an article about the course from Bates News.

The course was supported by the Dean of Faculty, the Department of History, and the Harward Center for Community Engagement at Bates College. Many thanks also to the many guests who generously shared their time and expertise:

The gallery below documents our trips to meet Professors Matthew Edney at the Osher Map Library (University of Southern Maine) and Anne Knowles (University of Maine at Orono). There are also a few photos from our visit to the James W Sewall Company, a surveying firm in Old Town, Maine that has been in business since 1880. Their archive houses some of the earliest survey documents for Maine as well as photographs of early surveying teams.