TL;DR -- The Economist reviewed a book that reported on research using Post Offices as a proxy for studying population and movement. The demo and its code for the project is at GitHub with Harvard providing the data repository. This is an example of a growing trend related to reproducibility through time and across region. We look at maps that show the early start and the frontier century. We will revisit the theme as we dive further into research which will also look at nautical world as well as influences other than New England.
We have followed New England's influence starting with the nautical experiences and then getting into the frontier times in the west. St. Louis will be a center point for the earlier part of the westward movement since it was involved in carving up (see Bent post on surveyor father and his trapper son) the huge pieces that were obtained via the Louisiana Purchase and later acquisitions. But, there was movement inward from the left coast, too, as well as from the south (giving us Texas, the great State) and its spheres.
So, our research focus will include, then, four centers with Salem in the east (yes, we see Winthrop as a later arrival), St. Louis in the center, San Francisco out on the left coast, and somewhere in TX as a southern point. Perhaps, San Antonio. Too, rather than the esteemed heights of the historian (academic) as the focus, we are following families, especially in regard to the middle not being flyover country.
The below is motivated by an article in The Economist (How the West was won). So, there is an aura (per usual, Brits, what else?) of judgment that seemed to waft from what the verbiage expressed. Okay, we like the mag, for depth of content and humor. Also, they are talking of a book, same title as the post. Here are some links related to the book and author.
- Cameron Blevins - teaches United States history and digital humanities.
- About that last, he offers details about his research via GitHub. The data is available from Harvard's Dataverse.
- His book, Paper Trails, uses Post Office locations as a proxy for the movement. Notice the graphic and its flow through time (from early on to 2000).
- By State, First Post Offices (USPS.com).
06/17/2021 -- Added the TL;DR.