Mapping American Social Movements through the 20th Century

Source: University of Washington, 2016

This collaborative digital project is assembling data and visualizations about dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics during the 20th century, including radical movements, labor movements, women’s movements, many different civil rights movements, environmentalist movements, and more. Until now historians and social scientists have mostly studied social movements in isolation and often with little attention to geography. This project allows us to explore the relationships between social movements by bringing them together in time and space. It enables new understandings of how social movements interact and how they reproduce and change over time. We do this by developing detailed geographic data and metrics about each movement, allowing us to identity locations where membership and activism were concentrated. Digital visualizations, including interactive maps and network displays are among the tools we use to explore the dynamics of movements.

The project is under development. We have started with dozens of maps and charts that show the activist geography of the NAACP, the Socialist Party, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Communist Party. We are now mapping the geography of the United Farm Workers (UFW), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL),and other civil rights movements. We will add data and maps for other organizations as we move forward. The links left and below lead to more than 70 visualizations and data tables, with more to come.