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About the Project

Original funding for Colorado's Geography: Mapping Our Past(MapCO) was provided through a grant from the National Geographic Society's Colorado Geography Education Fund, partly matched by funds from UNC's William E. Hewit Institute for History and Social Science Education. The Hewit Institute funded the updates and revisions that were completed in 2019.

The concept for MapCO was born in 2002, during teacher workshops about an online, interactive Colorado history project, called Doing History/Keeping the Past. Many teachers said that maps showing Colorado's historical geography would be a valuable complement to the primary sources in Doing History. An advisory board of teachers and scholars determined that a set of interactive GIS-based activities would be the best approach. Creation of the GIS database began in 2003; development and refinement of the student activities and map layers continued through 2004. In many cases, the GIS layers were made by digitizing data from actual historical maps. Classroom trials and teacher reviews of the activities were done in fall 2004, and the original MapCO website was launched in 2005.

By the mid-2010s, however, the GIS platform on which the original project was built had become obsolete, and the website’s reliability deteriorated. In 2015-2016 all of the original exercises were re-designed to work with ArcGIS Server. The actual web maps are now delivered through Esri's ArcGIS Online interface. These JavaScript-based web applications should be able to be viewed on both PC and Mac systems and on most devices (computers/tablets/phones). However, given the nature of the maps, it is strongly suggested that you use a relatively large screen (monitor). Although it is possible, it will be difficult for most students to view the maps on smaller tablets and hand-held devices. 

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.


 Project Directors

        Dr. Phil Klein               Dr. David Diggs

 ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Online Internet Map Programming, and GIS Database Design

        Dr. David Diggs         

Teacher-Authors of Revised Teacher Resources and Student Projects

        Linda Davies (Population activities PL2 and 3)

        Michelle Eckstein (Environment activities)

        Phyllis Gius (Boundaries and Transportation activities)

        Melody Parker (Population activities PE1 and 2, PL1)

        Jennifer Severson (Boundaries and Transportation activities)

        Amanda Swihart (Boundaries and Transportation activities)

        Cyndy Tatum (Population activities PL2 and 3)

Editors of Activities

        Dr. Phil Klein               Dr. David Diggs

Website Design

        Logan Garcia

Database and Website Development Assistants

        Rosanna Lee              Tabbatha Sandoval

We also thank the many Colorado K-12 teachers and students in their classes and their students, as well as students and colleagues at UNC who assisted in the development of the original MapCO project.

Lesson plan design based on G. Wiggins and J. McTighe (1998), ​Understanding by Design, ​published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.