Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.

Okay, history buffs. We've got a challenge for you: Learn as much as you possibly can from the 700 odd maps just uploaded to the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab. Your brain will thank you later.

The maps come from Charles O. Paullin's 1932 Historical Geography of the United States—and they're enthralling. The history bit really sucks you in, as it takes you everywhere from the layout of "Indian battles" from the 1500s on, to the breakdown of votes in presidential elections from the 19th century. While the maps have been around for quite some time, the new digital version animates them, pouring life into these otherwise static images.

Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.

The Paullin map is actually a piece of history in and of itself. Beginning with the 1874 Statistical Atlas of the United States, cartographers went beyond simply mapping geographical features and political borders to include things like census data. Map experts say that Paullin's book represented "a culmination" of the new trend, and the results are splendid. With this new online version, for example, you can see how long it would have taken to travel from New York to the rest of the country in 1857 and you can watch the country's center of population shift westward throughout its 300-year history.

Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.

Click through to the University of Richmond's historical atlas for the full experience. [NYT]

Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.

Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.

Spend Your Weekend Gawking at Nearly 700 Old Maps of the U.S.