Posts Tagged ‘maps’

CultureGrams: The Importance of Maps

World Map via CultureGrams

Have you ever thought about why maps are so important? Maps can help orient us. They can tell us where we are and where we want to go. Maps can help us find things. They offer a visual way to comprehend the world we live in and even worlds beyond ours. They provide perspective from high up or at a micro level.  They can be valuable in providing context, making comparisons, identifying connections or patterns, and even in predicting what lies ahead. Whether in the classroom or outside it, maps are valuable tools for teaching and learning. No wonder that developing map skills is a part of Common Core and other national and state curriculum standards.

Gabon Detail Map via CultureGrams


In CultureGrams you’ll find a wide variety of maps to help users learn. There are simple maps, physical maps, political maps, regional maps, detail maps, and county maps. And there are outline maps that are not only useful in their own right, but that students can use to create their own maps to reflect what they find interesting about a particular region, country, state,or province.

Denmark Outline Map via CultureGrams

To add further value to the wide variety of CultureGrams maps, our editorial staff has created a number of map-related learning activities that teachers can use for in-class projects or homework assignments. Students can use maps to understand the worldwide popularity of soccer in The World Game, as part of a “Geography Bee.” Or they can learn more about the impact of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere through such activities as “Colonization of Africa” or “Cricket and Colonization.”

Amerigo Vespucci–All American

Amerigo Vespucci Research Topic

Amerigo Vespucci Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Columbus could not have been more wrong. But then again, it was 1492 and he did not have his GPS when he landed in the Americas, which were then not known as the Americas. After he finished vacationing in the Bahamas, convinced all the time that he was near Japan or China, another chap from Italy named Amerigo Vespucci decided to try his luck sailing to the West to find the East. He claims to have made four voyages, but two of his trips are disputed by scholars who believe that his letters claiming such voyages are fakes (Vespucci was ever the self-promoter). What is known is that he did complete two voyages, the first (or maybe second?) around 1499-1500, being for Spain where he discovered the mouth of the Amazon River.

His second voyage in 1501-1502 (or third, if you believe his letters), this time for Portugal, was more important. He landed in present-day Brazil and sailed all along the east coast of South America. The voyage was more significant because it was during this trip Vespucci came to realize that this was not Asia as Columbus believed but was a new continent which Amerigo called the “New World.” Vespucci published several letters in which he described the culture of the indigenous people, describing their religion and diet, but what made these letters popular was his focus on their sexual, marriage, and childbirth practices. These letters were distributed across Europe and naturally outsold Columbus‘ boring diaries (then, as now, sex sells).

Martin Waldseemuller

Martin Waldseemuller [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Gerardus Mercator

Gerardus Mercator [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]










The insult to Columbus continued. Vespucci’s claim of a “New World” may not have been as bold as he alleged. Several years earlier, in 1498, Columbus had sailed past the mouth of the Orinoco River and reasoned that this huge outwash of fresh water could come only from a landmass of continental proportions. It appears that Vespucci got the credit for areas that most would agree were first discovered by Christopher Columbus.

1507 Martin Waldseemuller Map

1507 Martin Waldseemuller Map [Public Domain via Library of Congress]

In 1507, German clergyman-cartographer Martin Waldseemuller created a map, the Universalis Cosmographia, in which he labeled Brazil and rest of the coastline “America” in honor of Amerigo (America being the feminine, Latinized version of Amerigo). In 1538, another map-maker, Gerardus Mercator, working from maps created earlier by Waldseemuller, gave the name “America” to both the South and North continents. The name stuck. So, thanks to Vespucci, Waldseemuller and Mercator, some 350 million of us living in the United States refer to ourselves as Americans. It does make one wonder what we would be calling ourselves had Waldseemuller not used the name “America” on his 1507 map…

March 9th is the birthday of Amerigo Vespucci, so this would be a good time to brush up on our early “American” history using the many resources available in eLibrary.

American History (Magazine)

Cartography (Research Topic)

Central America (Research Topic)

Columbian Exchange (Research Topic)

Explorers of North America (Research Topic)

History of the World (Anthology)

Navigation (Research Topic)


CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Tajikistan

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Tajikistan map

Tajikistan Kids Edition Detail Map

The new Tajikistan report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Tajikistan:

  • In Tajikistan, village elders keep the art of storytelling alive by gathering the youth and sharing stories that often feature a hero and a lesson, or moral.
  • In Persian, taj means “crown,” so some people believe Tajik means a crown-wearer.
  • To keep Tajikistanis from overspending, the law limits the number of guests and amount of food a family can serve at a wedding.
  • Tajikistan is the smallest country in central Asia.

Find out about the ancient spring festival Nowruz, discover how to barter for goods at a local bazaar, and read about life as a kid in Tajikistan all in this colorful new report.

More National Geographic Maps in eLibrary


National Geographic Map with links to larger image and PDF

Over 130 high-quality, visually appealing maps from National Geographic have been added to eLibrary, bringing the total number of maps in eLibrary from this prestigious magazine, book and documentary publisher to 847!

The maps cover each of the continents and includes thematic maps as well, such as maps representing population density, plate tectonics and major religions. These maps are ideal for cross-curricular activities where having a geographic/spatial understanding of social or scientific phenomena is crucial.

Each map document has an image of the map which is expandable when clicked and include a link to a full size image.  A PDF version of each map is also available for easy printing.

National Geographic is just one of several map providers discoverable in eLibrary.  For more about how to find maps in eLibrary, view this earlier blog post.

National Geographic Resources in eLibrary

Since the first issue of National Geographic magazine was published in 1888, readers have been able to travel and explore the world through the stories and photographs of global researchers.  eLibrary brings the National Geographic experience to educators and students via four publications: National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Maps and National Geographic Traveler.

eLibrary has an exhaustive  selection of National Geographic Maps for use in the classroom.  This collection includes topical maps as well as maps that accompany articles from the National Geographic print magazine. Not only will you find maps of every country and state and province, but you will also find specialized maps on topics ranging from AIDS in Africa to Zebra migration routes.

These maps are easily searchable by using the Advanced Search option in eLibrary.  Just click the Advanced Search icon, check the Maps only icon, key in your search in the Document Title field, then key in National Geographic  in the Publication Name field.  You can also find these maps by doing a basic search with only the Maps icon checked or by searching for National Geographic Maps in eLibrary’s list of Publications.

Nat Geo Map Search

Your search results will provide you with one of hundreds of colorful National Geographic maps.

alaska national geo

Take advantage of eLibrary’s collection of National Geographic resources for your classroom, and Start Exploring Today!

-Tom Mason

Where Am I? How to Find Maps in eLibrary

Quick!  Where is Guinea-Bissau?  How do you get to Djibouti?  How far away is Turkmenistan?  If you want to find out where in the world these places are, you don’t need a GPS.  All you need is the Advanced Search function of eLibrary.  By using the Advanced Search option, you can find  maps of just about any place in the world.

Getting started is easy.  Just click the Advanced Search option on the main search page of eLibrary.  Hit the Clear All icon and select Maps. Then, key in the country or state you are looking for in the Search box. To further focus your search results, type the country or state name into the Document Title box and click the green Advanced Search button.

Your first search result will usually be a Research Topic Page for that particular country or state.  Below it will be a list of maps from Maps.com, Global Electronic Map Set, CIA World Factbook, National Geographic Maps and Maps of the World from Magellan Geographix.

 In addition to basic country or state maps, you can also search for regional maps, maps of continents, maps of the oceans, as well as specialized maps, which include information such as population density, crops, weather patterns and more.

To find out where you are going, or where you have been, take advantage of eLibrary’s extensive collection of maps.


-Tom Mason


Election Resources in eLibrary!

click to enlarge

There are a number of current and historical resources you can find in eLibrary about the U.S. Presidential election.

Perform a keyword search on “Election 2012” and, in addition to the expected list of varied resources from a range of publications and source types, there is a visually attractive and informative Research Topic page, created and maintained by ProQuest’s team of editors. Like all other Research Topic Pages, the Election 2012 Research Topic page curates some of the best text and image documents found in eLibrary. The intention is to provide users with useful background on the topic before they delve into the search results list. Information about the candidates, the key issues and predictions and polls from respected global sources are included.

click to enlarge

Studying a past election is a great way to put the current presidential election in historical context. Utilizing the autocomplete feature in the eLibrary search can connect you with Research Topic pages on past elections. Simply start typing the words “Presidential Election” in the search field of the Basic Search screen and a range of recent and distant election search queries will appear in the autocomplete dropdown menu. Select the election that interests you. Chances are, there is a Research Topic page for that election as well.

eLibrary includes a collection of historic maps created by Cartographica that display all types of interesting information about past U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections. To find these maps, perform a Publication Search for “Cartographica.” Once in the collection, simply select the Search within this Publication link in the upper right. Search the word “Election” and the wealth of Cartographica maps on elections will appear.

As the election results roll in, be sure to visit eLibrary for current, authoritative information from newswires, magazines, TV and radio transcripts and photo service feeds.

For an overview of the Research Topic feature in eLibrary, click here.

New to eLibrary

Since July 2011, eLibrary has added: