Skill 5: Mapping

This screenshot shows my excel sheet for reference.

My map is based on locations in my home state: Virginia. When looking at the Negro Motorist Green-Book I chose a topic from areas that I knew well enough to spot if there was a geographical mistake. This resulted in me having two different cities to reach the requirement of 20 locations. The two locations I chose are Newport News and Norfolk, Virginia; since they are in relatively close proximity to one another.

As you can see in the screenshot below I was able to get both locations in one shot. You can also see that the services are in close proximity to one another. This is probably for a couple of reasons, the first being that a traveling black person would cause less attention to oneself if they only travel within a 1-2 block radius. As well as the fact that due to the inequalities of the town most black people were within a certain distance to oneself in the first place.

This shot demonstrates my locations relatively close distance.

The photos below are from Newport News, as you can see the locations are located on or around one central street: Marshall Ave. Within these streets, the mapping inequality relay demonstrates that the services are mostly in the red- marking it as a hazardous location. The farthest location is a beauty shop and it is in more of a yellow area. The mapping inequality shows how there was a growing population of blacks rising from 38% to 41% between the 1930s and 1940’s attributing to a greater red/hazardous area of housing. This inference goes along with our readings and class discussion on how spatial history and its mapping can add a layer to history and improve discussions among digital historians. Using the historical green-book to acknowledge the struggles and travels of blacks while then mapping the inequalities and danger on screen and in comparison.

Newport News Kepler Screenshot
Newport News mapping inequality screenshot

These next images are from Norfolk, Virginia and again demonstrate clustering of services along one road: Church St. While the African American population is lower than Newport News there is more land and yellow zones. The locations on the map are mainly located in the yellow. Again better circumstances than Newport News but the standards are still set low as yellow is defined as “definitely declining”. There are two outliers away from Church St and located closer to the water they area hotel and beauty parlor.

Norfolk Kepler Image

Norfolk Mapping Inequality Image

The fact that the green-book can be mapped- even after decades- and can still demonstrate history in real time is amazing. Although I cannot think of any currently I can only imagine the answers an African-American Studies historian or Progressive area historian can get from this information. It can be used to highlight and discuss inequalities blacks faced in American history. It can also be used to draw comparisons; say a World War II historian wants to discuss the layouts of safe havens for the Jewish refugees escaping Germany they can compare resources and ideology with the Green-book and the service proximity. I really enjoyed the mapping of this assignment and found this to be a good hands on example of Richard White’s reading on spatial history.

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