Project Information

Going Further

Do you wish to explore further the abilities of using maps to illustrate Colorado's historical geography?  The GIS (Geographic Information Systems) database with more than 80 map layers is free (in ESRI Geodatabase) for educational and non-commercial use. Download Database. ESRI ArcGIS software can be used to view and incorporate the various data layers into a GIS project(s).

ArcGIS and related ESRI software is available for little or no cost for most K-12 schools. See ESRI Education Resources.

About the Project

Funding for Colorado's Geography: Mapping Our Past was provided through a grant from the National Geographic Society's Colorado Geography Education Fund, with some matching funds from UNC's Hewit Institute for History and Social Science Education.

The project's concept began in early 2002 in conversations between Phil Klein (Department of Geography, UNC) and Jim Giese (Hewit Institute). As director of the Doing History/Keeping the Past project, Dr. Giese had led numerous workshops informing Colorado teachers about that instructional resource.  Many teachers said that maps showing Colorado's historical geography would be a valuable complement to the primary source material found on the Doing History website.

Drs. Giese and Klein received a planning grant from the Colorado Geography Education Fund to convene an Advisory Board of teachers and scholars to further develop this idea. The Advisory Board met in late 2002 and conceived the notion of creating interactive historical maps using an Internet GIS map-server. Dave Diggs, also of UNC's Department of Geography and GIS, joined the grant to provide the GIS expertise.

This new project idea was funded by the Colorado Geography Education Fund and Hewit Institute in 2003.  Creation of the GIS database began that summer; development and refinement of the activities and maps continued through 2004.

Classroom trials and teacher reviews of the activities were done in Fall 2004. In 2015-2016 all of the original exercises were re-designed to work with ArcGIS Server. The actual web maps are delivered through ESRI's ArcGIS Online interface. These JavaScript based web applications should be relatively viewed on various platforms (PC/MAC) and on most devices (computers/tablets/phones). However, given the nature of the maps the we strongly suggest that you use a relatively large screen (monitor). While possible--it will be difficult for most students to view the maps on smaller tablets and hand-held devices.