Historic Pittsburgh
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Classroom Application - Maps Collection

Pick a Map!

What can be learned regarding the buildings, streets, people, and history of a particular city neighborhood? To create your own class exercise, start with a geographic reference point. There are more than 1,100 maps produced by the G. M. Hopkins Company on Historic Pittsburgh.

Historic Pittsburgh Class Example - Map (pdf) uses one small area of Pittsburgh (part of the Point Breeze/Homewood section) in 1939 to illustrate our example. Any other section of the city or another date between 1872 and 1939 could have been chosen, but we picked this map since our Archives Service Center and Digital Research Library are located here in a newly renovated and expanded manufacturing building.


Once you have made your selection(s) from the Maps Collection, you could have the class or groups within the class explore the physical evolution of the area by comparing it with other online maps constructed at intervals of time. How had the area changed physically between time A and time B? You might supplement this exercise with materials in the online Census and Image collections. Census information, map information, and images can be brought together to stimulate students’ thinking about people in the past and their environments. Use the Full-Text Collection to identify books and pamphlets related to the area on which you are focusing.

Visit the Archives!

The above steps can be taken by teachers at any distance from Pittsburgh and environs as a case study of an industrializing region. But, if you are near enough to contemplate a visit by your class or individuals from the class, Pittsburgh’s archival resources can deepen still further the history of the part of the city you or the students have selected. Even before you make a personal visit, you can become acquainted with hundreds of collections held by the University of Pittsburgh’s Archives Service Center and the Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center through Historic Pittsburgh’s online finding aids. And you can interest your students further in their work by visiting in person the areas they are studying.

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Historic Pittsburgh is hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System.