Historical maps deserve a place in the college classroom as primary sources. Since the 1980s, scholarship has shown how maps can be analyzed and interpreted to reveal something not only about the peoples, spaces, and times they portray but also about the societies that create, consume, and contest them. Over the last decade, the maps themselves have become increasingly accessible, as important research libraries and archives digitize their holdings. Yet these graphic texts are not yet staples of college curricula or documentary readers. This essay provides a brief overview of recent research in the history of cartography and presents two examples of map discussion modules for the Latin American history classroom: a demonstration of US neocolonialism, resource extraction, and social change in late nineteenth-century eastern Nicaragua, and a case of urban planning and ideas of order in colonial Mexico City.

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