For my digital history project I will be creating a multi-layered map indicating 1) the three LGBT heritage sites with state historical markers, 2) sites, either in Philadelphia or around the country, connected to any of these three sites, and 3) sites of noteworthy historical relevance to Philadelphia’s LGBT history. In addition to placing markers on these sites, I will include brief histories, related images, and coordinates. The point of this assignment is three-fold: show what has been commemorated in Philadelphia, mark other sites relevant to these spatially, and provide an impression of the vast histories that have yet to be told through either preservation or commemoration through state historical markers..
For my project, I will be using Google Maps. Google Maps is one of the most user-friendly mapping tools available to people for their first mapping projects, and, because it affords users the option of creating layered maps, Google Maps lends itself very well to mapping projects like mine that utilize layers. My goal is to create a three layered map with the first layer exhibiting the three historically marked LGBT sites in Philadelphia, the second showing the sites tied to the broader histories of the former sites, and third a number of the countless other LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia whose stories have yet to be preserved in any way. Also useful in Google Maps is one’s ability to use different colors for different markers. The three markers already in place have different stories, and to be able to differentiate them, their connected sites, and other unrepresented sites by color would improve the final product's utility for viewers.
LGBT history in Philadelphia as told through space is a subject worth exploring through digital tools because it is a subject barely engaged with, whether by academic historians or digital humanists. This tool enables me to present to others the vastly under-preserved history of LGBT Philadelphia by showing what has been marked, and everything that has not. This tool allows me to make an argument visually. It also opens up avenues of inquiry as to why so few spaces have been commemorated or preserved, and why those that have may have been selected. By using Google Maps, a widely-used tool, I am able to bring this research to a far broader audience than I could with a less well-known tool like Carto. Exploring this subject through digital-spatial methods allows me to clearly visualize the relationships between spaces, and visualize the historical discrepancies between what has and has not been preserved, and even begin to analyze the differences in their locations. Where in the city are the three sites with markers as opposed to the many sites are not yet preserved or marked? This enables later, more in-depth analyses through urban history, not just preservationist history. This tool and project would utilize Public History best practices in that it would be easily accessible through Google Maps, it would allow viewers to visit these sites themselves, it would raise awareness for the need to preserve LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia, and it would educate the public about their city’s underrepresented LGBT history in a digital and nontraditional format.
The intended audience is the broadest audience possible, including the Digital History community, but also the average LGBT-Philadelphian curious about the history all around them that represents people like them. Philadelphia has a rich LGBT history, and although local historical professionals are beginning to tap into that base, there is more to be done professionally to document that history and present it via easily accessible digital media.