Mapping Boston’s Religions: Next Steps in Mapping U.S. Religious History by Lincoln Mullen.
From the first slide:
This conference paper and visualizations are to be delivered January 5, 2015, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Church History. It is part of a panel on “Mapping Religious Space: Four American Cities from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century.”
The slides aren’t numbered but I think from slide 4:
My general argument is that there are large sources of data on American religion after the colonial period and before Word War II which historians have not used to make maps. Scholars have not passed over these sources because they are unaware of them, but because they could not meaningfully represent them in print maps. The problem is one of resolution. Print atlases could convey relatively few data points. Furthermore, because atlases can contain only so many maps, they have often been forced to set their chronological or geographic scope very large. By using these more detailed sources we are able to make maps which better approximate the sophisticated thinking about religious categories that we expect from our prose. These richer maps can tell us not just more, but more humanistic, things about religious history. To take advantage of these more comprehensive sources we need digital maps. To be sure, digital history has had more than its share of hubris, more than we have time to repent of today. But digital maps do offer the possibility for working at different scales, for displaying change over time, for integrating maps with our sources, and for crafting narratives with maps. While none of these advantages entirely solves with the problem of mapping humanistically, they do permit us to at least start to address these theoretical concerns.
Lowering the barriers and constraints on map making, such as the limitations and cost of print maps, is empowering new map makers, like Lincoln Mullen, to craft maps no one has attempted before. Where those maps will take us remains to be seen.
I first saw this in a tweet by Lincoln Mullen.