We’ve prepared a number of sample Neatline exhibits to help stretch your imagination. Look below for projects in history, literature, and contemporary space and place — and come back soon to for examples of how Neatline can be used to annotate documents without reference to geography.

“My Dear Little Nelly”: Hotchkiss Maps the Battle of Fredericksburg for his Child

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. | Maps from the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.

A collection of letters written by Civil War cartographer Jedediah Hotchkiss and housed in the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia includes a fascinating and unusual document. Four days after the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hotchkiss wrote a short letter to his daughter Nelly. After a describing the journey to rejoin the Confederate army and the natural surroundings of his campsite on the banks of the Rappahannock, Hotchkiss provides Nelly with a terse, understated description of the battle.

On the third page of the letter, Hotchkiss sketches out a rough drawing of the battlefield, penciling in the shape of the river around the Fredericksburg basin, positions of the armies, locations of artillery batteries, and the layout of the roads, railroads, and streams around the town. In this exhibit, we have cut away the section of the letter containing the map, georeferenced it against a stylized, modern-geography tileset, and layered the rest of the document around it.

Custom vector illustrations show the physical relationship between the rectified map and the rest of the letter, and the letter is transcribed with pop-up bubbles on a sentence-by-sentence basis. A collection of numbered waypoints unfold a long-format essay that describes the letter and its context in detail, and the sketch of the battle is spatially annotated and connected with content in the surrounding letter.

Most interesting, though, is the relationship between Hotchkiss’s sketch and formal battle maps that were made of the same events. Scroll the timeline back to the “Sketch of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13,” and an official map of the battle with a whole new set of waypoints and prose narrative is layered on top of Hotchkiss’s sketch. Zoom in and move the timeline back and forth to compare the two maps in detail.

Jedediah Hotchkiss and The Battle of Chancellorsville

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. | Maps from the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.

Fought about six months after the disastrous Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville was one of a series of stringing defeats that rocked the Union army in 1862 and 1863. Hotchkiss played a critical role in one of the most well-known tactical maneuvers of the war: Lee and Jackson used his sketches of the roads and logging trails in the dense forest around Chancellorsville to plan a risky, 14-mile flanking march that put Jackson into position to launch a devastating attack on the right wing of Hooker’s army.

Hotchkiss made dozens of maps of the area, and continued to revise and annotate them throughout his life. UVa’s Small Special Collections Library holds a series of three identical printings of the map that Hotchkiss marked with colored pencils to indicate troop movements over the course of the three-day battle.

Each of the maps has been georeferenced, tagged with temporal visibility intervals, and annotated with a complex series of illustrations and waypoints. Follow the numbered locations to read a detailed description of the battle, and click on geometric vector shapes for information about Hotchkiss’s markings and specific events in the battle. Drag the timeline back and forth to switch contexts between May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. On the right of the screen, an ordered series of timestamped labels provides a high-level overview of the narrative.

Hotchkiss Collection #132: Pencil-Annotated Map of Chancellorsville, May 2

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. | Maps from the Hotchkiss Map Collection at the Library of Congress.

Hotchkiss made a number of maps showing the action of May 2 at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the day of the famous flanking march that set the stage for Lee’s victory and for Jackson’s death. In this map, #132 in the Hotchkiss Map Collection at the Library of Congress, Hothchkiss sketches the positions of the divisions that stayed behind with Lee on the east side of the Chancellorsville crossroads while the Second Corps marched west.

In the right margin of the document, Hotchkiss penciled in a numbered list of divisions lined up along the eastern stretch of Furnace Road. Hover over the pencil markings to see a transcription of the list and an illustration showing the corresponding position of the division on the map; click on the listings for more information about the individual generals. At the bottom right of the exhibit, click on the large red dot next to the title of the map to see the full Dublin Core metadata for the map, which held as an item in the Omeka collection underlying this exhibit.

Hotchkiss Collection #138: Pencil-Annotated Map of Chancellorsville, May 3-4

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. | Maps from the Hotchkiss Map Collection at the Library of Congress.

An interactive edition of map #138 in the Library of Congress Hotchkiss Collection, this exhibit shows the position of Lee’s army on the evening of May 3 and throughout most of the following day. On the morning of the 3rd, in the aftermath of Jackson’s attack, Lee and Stuart resumed pressure on Hooker’s position at the Chancellorsville crossroads. The Union force mounted a fierce defense of the position, but eventually succumbed to punishing artillery fire from Confederate batteries on a bluff over the town and retreated north towards the river.

The exhibit transcribes the marginalia at the bottom of the map and connects listed divisions with the corresponding numbers that Hotchkiss penciled onto the map. Vector illustrations show the shape of Hooker’s defensive position south of the Rappahannock and the general trajectory of the troop movements that preceded and followed the positions displayed on the sketch.

“Inventing the Map”: Frances Henshaw’s Book of Penmanship

Launch Exhibit

By Bethany Nowviskie | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Maps & manuscripts CC BY SA Cartography Associates with grateful acknowledgment to David Rumsey.

Frances Henshaw’s 1823 Book of Penmanship Executed at the Middlebury Female Academy is imaginatively and artistically remarkable. But this 14-year-old girl’s textually-derived maps and cartographically-arranged texts also provide some of our best direct evidence for the teaching practices of famed women’s educational reformer Emma Willard. Willard founded Henshaw’s school at a time when geography was taught almost entirely through prose, and there she developed a new, visual and experimental pedagogy, based on drawing exercises and work with printed maps.

Emma Willard asserted her own impact on spatial and historical understanding in the early American republic unblushingly: “In history,” she wrote, “I have invented the map.”

This work-in-progress site demonstrates how Neatline can fit into an existing Omeka collection. It currently includes three separate Neatline exhibits.

“I am It, and It is I”: Lovecraft in Providence

Launch Exhibit

By Paul Mawyer | Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0.

This exhibit, by a University of Virginia undergraduate, connects short passages from the private letters of 20th-century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft with the geography of his home city, Providence, Rhode Island. Paul Mawyer uses Neatline to explore the ways in which Providence appears in and influences the writing of a man whose tombstone reads, “I am Providence.”

University of Virginia Campus Map

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Copyright 2012, The Board and Visitors of the University of Virginia (U.Va. Web Map)

In addition to built-in integration with georeferenced historical maps, Neatline can also be used as a general-purpose mapping tool to create interactive exhibits on modern-geography base layers. This exhibit is a reinvention of the standard-issue university campus map: each of the major buildings on the historic Central Grounds at the University of Virginia is outlined and annotated with a short historical description. Neatline was developed by the research and development group at the UVa Library Scholars’ Lab. Our offices are indicated by an overlayed, semi-transparent image dropped over the west wing of Alderman Library.

Pic d’Anie via Lescun

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure | Photographs by David McClure.

Pic d’Anie (2,507 m) is the first non-trivial climbing target on a eastbound traverse of the Pyrenees along the Pyrenean High Route, a walking route that follows the center ridgeline between France and Spain. Just a few miles into the Parc National des Pyrénées, Anie benefits aesthetically from contrast with the rolling gentle, hills of the Basque country to the east. Although not particularly large or technically challenging, Anie is an understated, beautiful mountain with a strikingly symmetrical summit cone, tucked into a jagged ring of secondary peaks that can obscure its summit from the surrounding valleys.

This exhibit plots a series of photographs taken during an ascent of the mountain from the small hamlet of Lescun, which sits on a broad, sloping mountainside about five miles to the east. The approach route and climbing line are plotted in detail, and each photograph is represented by a dot and a thin line, indicating both the direction that the camera was pointing and offering a rough, interpretive approximation of the photographer’s range of view.

Technology Companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco

Launch Exhibit

By David McClure

Another straightforward use of Neatline for modern content, this is a mapping of the office locations of 60 technology firms in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Descriptions of the companies are taken from Wikipedia.