Carleton College: Then and Now

Carleton College: Then and Now is a a digital humanities project on the past and present of Carleton College’s campus.  We focus particularly on archival architectural plans from 1920, 1921, and 1930, and the discrepancies between the men’s and women’s  proposed campuses.   To highlight these, we used ArcGIS, Map Warper, and other web applications to eventually show two maps, an old one and a present day one, one on top of the other and connected by a slider tool that allowed the user to move back and forth to to discover and make comparisons between the two.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 10.22.27 AM

To create the site, we used a variety of tools and techniques.  This included, but was not limited to WordPress, MapWarper, ArcGIS, and Zotero.   It was created by Maya Kassahun, Tonya Piergies, Ana Yanes, and Clarissa Smith.


Please visit: to check it out!

Our presentation:



  1. Tonya and Team What If?,

    I’ve been going over your final project and it looks very professional. I really like the theme you chose, and you’ve structured the website into a number of clearly labeled pages that helpfully describe the components, personnel and process that led to your finished product.

    Your overall conclusions are easy to grasp, but there are a few areas where I would suggest changes to better clarify the presentation or argument. Below I suggest cosmetic presentation edits first followed by more substantive questions.

    • The layout seems unnecessarily cramped, apart from the title.
    • Can you unnest some of the menus so that it is easier to jump right to the content and generally spread out the navigation?
    • You also seem to use a two-column layout with nothing in the right column. Can you customize the theme to use the full width with no sidebar?
  2. Possibly related to the width issue, the slider maps have embedded in a way that makes them hard to interact with:
    • They are fairly small (which would be helped by the full width issue)
    • 1920 is a good aspect ratio, but 1921 and 1930 are very tall and skinny for the data
    • The content associated with each shape comes up in a separate Data tab rather than a popup. This may resolve itself with a bigger width, but you might check the sharing settings on the web app.
    • Finally, I would also suggest adding a link above or below each map to open the app full size in a new page
  3. On the substantive side, I wanted more details and more closely linked to the insights from the individual map layers
    • Were your observations purely based on visual examination of the plans?
    • Were there differences between the three plans that reflect a changing conception of the gendered spaces over time?
    • I would ideally like to see a more linnear narrative emerge from the structure: where you have the general argument, followed by each map layer with some of your insights gained from that particular map laid out alongside it and a final observations/conclusion page where you sum these up.
  4. Finally, I thought your in-class presentation was very good and would love to see it either embedded, linked or incorporated into your “How We Did It” page.
  5. I think you all did a lot of investigating and put a lot of work into telling an interesting story, and these changes would make an already strong project even better communicated to your audience. Good work team!

  6. This is a really cool project, both in what it was describing and the tools you used to present your research! I was particularly interested in how this one turned out because I’ve done a lot of research into the role of women at Carleton due to another class I took. You guys are definitely right about the differences that can be seen between the architecture designed for men and women. One aspect that I’ve always found striking is the way the women’s dormitories were organized internally: Gridley was set up with a preceptress’s room (sort of an area advisor) right near the entrance and visiting parlors, so women had less freedom of movement (there were also rules requiring them to return to their dormitories by curfew for a long time). Meanwhile, men’s dorms, like Burton, were structured in a way that allowed freedom of movement, and didn’t have spaces for adult “chaperones” to live.
    One addition to the maps with the sliders that would have helped me comprehend them a little bit quicker would have been some sort of key that explained the color coding and how to use the slider function and other functionalities of the map. (Also, there’s a place in your facts page that says Burton is no longer standing, so you might want to fix that!)

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