Atlas of Historic NM Maps
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About the Atlas
Lesson Plans
UNM Press
NM Centennial

An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, 15501941

Lesson Plans

Maps Created with Student Submitted Content

2017: Student Created Map

2019: Community Maps

Fourth Grade Lesson Plans

Seventh Grade Lesson Plans

Ninth Grade Lesson Plans

Adding Your Own Maps

Internet Resources


Note to Teachers

The Atlas of Historic New Mexico maps website is a rich resource for New Mexico history teachers, boasting a large collection of first person accounts and oral histories, archival photographs and illustrations, links to full-text resources (many of which are out of print), links to community and state historical resources, audio, and video, as well as a selection of historic maps depicting major historical eras from the first European explorations through the 1920s.

The New Mexico Humanities Council has developed lesson plans to use in conjunction with these maps. The lesson plans are designed to be a sequence, but teachers can also use them individually, to illustrate a certain point, or to supplement other classroom work on an era.

If you are planning on using the lesson plans or the maps individually, and the students have access to multiple computers, it may help to allow time for the first activity for your grade level, in order to allow the students to familiarize themselves with the Google maps interface. The Map Analysis Worksheet (link below) is also a quick and easy way for students to analyze an historic map.

Map Analysis Worksheet (PDF)

Presenting the Maps

If a classroom has multiple computers, the students can look at the maps individually, in pairs, or in small groups. If a classroom has one computer, the teacher can demonstrate the maps with a projector or SmartBoard. Students can also volunteer to take turns navigating the maps.


Registering as a teacher has several advantages.

* Save views for easy reference

* Share views and markers with students via email.

* If your students do projects in Google Earth, you may upload their finished projects as KML files to the Student Map using the Upload KML button you will see to the right of the map when logged in. Their files will then be a public part of the website.

Other Ways to Use the Maps

Use the search feature to look at one place over time.

Explore the stories of individuals by using the prev/next buttons to the right of the place name in the eyewitness tab of the interpretive window that opens when you click on a marker.

When you open a map, it will open to a biographical sketch of an eyewitness to that place in that time.

Turn off all the icons to see it with only the original art.

Use transparency to compare historic maps with modern maps.

Challenging Material

The text material used to annotate these maps can be challenging; in many cases, the archaic and/or esoteric language is too challenging for the grade level you may be teaching. A glossary is provided for Spanish words, based on the readings recommended for each lesson.

The lesson plans for lower levels approach the maps more visually. These maps can be approached as art, particularly the older, illustrated ones. Supporting materials for each location may include audio, pictures, a brief overview, and links to overview information, current information about a location, or a cultural institution serving that location. Each era (Terra Incognita, Tierra Adentro, Shifting Allegiances, Age of Technology) also has a selection of audio clips discussing issues of that era.

Using the Bibliography

The Bibliography has links to fully digitized versions of many of the books and articles referenced in the Atlas. Depending on the provider, the full-text versions include scans of the pages, and can be annotated, printed, or exported as text. Many of these books are otherwise rare, and available only in special collections, so this provides an excellent opportunity for students to explore historic resources that they would not otherwise be able to access.

Adding to the maps

Students may complete map projects on cultural or historic sites within their communities or regions in Google Earth. Using Google Earth and its associated free media hosting sites, students can develop rich media explorations of place. As a teacher, you may upload them to the New Mexico Atlas, to be shared with the public in perpetuity.

Full documentation on downloading, installing, and using Google Earth can be found under the section titled "Adding Your Own Maps." Lessons on building maps in Google Earth and uploading to the map can be found in the 9th grade lesson plans. Teachers do not have to be registered as high school teachers to upload maps, as long as the student projects are of a high enough quality to be made public.

Incomplete or inappropriate projects will be deleted, at the NMHC's discretion. Inappropriate projects may include media such as youtube or audio links that are scurrilous or defamatory; unattributed sources; or unattributed work presented as original material.

Use of Historical Material and Copyright

The historical quotations, images, and oral histories included in the online Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps are included to help visitors understand the human context of the era in which each map was created. Some quotations may include language or attitudes that our modern sensibilities find offensive. The New Mexico Humanities Council does not condone these views, but is including them as part of a broad effort to represent the authentic views and words of the people of that time.

Much of the information and images used on this website are part of the public domain, either as part of the intellectual commons, or because of its antiquity. Some materials remain under copyright, and may not be appropriated without permission. The NMHC has made every possible effort to ascertain the status of each work and obtain permission where copyright is held. If you have any questions about our use of materials, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Native Oral Histories

Many of these lessons encourage students to try to examine events from a native perspective. Selections from oral histories are included for many places on the tab of the info window marked, "Other Voices." This tab will show up no matter which map you are looking at. So if you want to learn the native history of the desertion of Pecos, do a search for "Pecos" (search field at the top) and click on any of the search return items, which will open a marker in a map.

Categories where these may offer useful comparisons:

Migrations: Nambe, Zia, Pecos, Santa Ana, Laguna.

Intertribal relations: Tesuque, Zia, Picuris, San Ildefonso, Laguna.

Sacred places: Taos, Santa Clara, Navajo.

Relations with Europeans/Mexicans/Americans: Nambe, San Juan, Jemez, Taos, Jicarilla, Fort Wingate, Fort Defiance, San Felipe.

Living in a changing world: San Felipe, Comanche, Jicarilla, Mescalero.

Traditional ways: Comanche, Zuni.

Warfare and removal: Chihenne Apache, Laguna, Pecos, Tesuque, Jicarilla, Mescalero.

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