Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory
Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory is designed as an experiment in digital history. Historian Anne Sarah Rubin is working on a project about the ways Americans have remembered Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864, and wanted to bring her work to a broader audience. Rather than build an archive of documents, images, and essays, she decided to take a more interpretive approach, and this site is the result. A generous Digital Innovation Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) allowed Dr. Rubin to collaborate with Dan Bailey and Kelley Bell (both of the UMBC Visual Arts Department and the Imaging Research Center). What we have here is a small prototype—a proof of concept for our larger vision.
Mapping Memory is organized around both place and narrative. It consists of five maps, each one representing a genre of tales about the March. They are:
- The Sherman or Fact Map, which lays out the basic events of the march.
- The Civilians Map, for events involving African Americans and Southern civilians.
- The Soldiers Map, for events told from the perspective of veterans
- The Tourism Map, which is about tourism and travel accounts.
- The Fiction Map, which plots places both real and imagined that have appeared in novels and films about the March
When you draw the time slider across the base of each map, two lines, schematically representing the left and right wings of Sherman’s Army move across the landscape. At the same time, an array of map pins, or points, also appears. These points mark spots of significance, and the idea is that you can toggle between the maps, and see how different people remembered or wrote about different places or events. Not every place appears on every map, but most of them are on two or three, and Atlanta, Savannah, and Milledgeville are on all five. Clicking on a point will bring up a window with a mini-documentary about that place, from the map’s perspective.
For now, we have only animated one point per map, although ideally we will receive funding to complete the stories for each and every point. We tried to pick a range of places and stories, and also use a variety of styles and techniques to illustrate them. The active points, which are highlighted, are:
- Sherman Map—Ebenezer Creek: A place where one of Sherman’s Generals abandoned scores of African Americans to drown or be captured by Confederates.
- Civilians Map—Oxford: The story of Zora Fair, the "girl spy of the Confederacy"
- Soldier's Map—Milledgeville: Sherman’s men repealing secession in a mock session in the state capitol building.
- Tourism—Camp Lawton: The story of the prison camp turned state park outside of Millen. (
- Fiction—Tara Plantation, Jonesboro, Clayton County: The roots of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with The Wind
We hope you find the site thought-provoking, and welcome your comments.