1930s Mapping Project

Hi, friends! Welcome back to Stillwater! I hope that your school year has gotten off to a great start and you are getting settled into your routine. With the start of school comes the start of work, and these past few weeks I’ve picked up a project that I began in December of 2018.

In previous blog posts, I’ve talked about working with the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College yearbooks. At the end of these books is an advertisement section which lists many drug stores, grocery stores, clothing cleaners, doctors, and dentists found in Stillwater. I was curious to see what could be learned about Stillwater in the 1930s through a visual representation of these locations.

I came up with this idea in December of 2018 and I began to list the advertisements in an excel sheet. There were some discrepancies in the yearbooks. For instance, some of the yearbooks did not list an address for a specific business while the same business would list an address the follow year. Through listing the advertisements from each year in an excel sheet, I could correct these discrepancies.  

After taking a semester’s hiatus from this project, I began working on it again in July. Using a map of Stillwater from 1929, I located the addresses and marked them on the map with a small sticky note. The map was fairly detailed and I was able to place the business rather accurately. While this created a neat, and colorful, visual representation, it was not terribly practical for sharing with the world. 

Enter, My Google MapsMGM is a lesser known feature on Google which allows you to drop points and draw lines on Google maps. I added points onto the map to represent the addresses and drew the outlines of the physical Stillwater map onto the Google map. It was difficult to drop the points and draw the lines approximately because Google maps was more modern and lacked specific building names. Moreover, some roads in Stillwater had changed since 1929; in the 1929 map, some of the roads on the east side of Stillwater were listed as dirt roads.

This is an image of the map I created in MGM. Each numbered dot represents a business and the purple lines are where the 1929 map ends.

After completing this section of the project, my supervisor helped me to export the map to ArcGIS. ArcGIS will allow me to customize my map more and make it more user friendly. I hope to be able to share that soon!

-Claire Ringer