The “American Century” Geospatial Timeline (Clemson)

We’re going to use online tools to build a geotagged timeline of the time period we’re studying. It will involve some light research, some magic with Google maps, and entering information into an online spreadsheet.


  • Be sure that you’ve given me an email address that you actually check. By 1/30, you will receive an e-mail inviting you to collaborate with me on a Google Docs spreadsheet.
  • Choose two years between 1865-2010. One year must be in the range 1865-1935 and one year must fall in the range 1936-2010. You can see the list of available years below. When you have chosen your years, edit this wiki page to strikethrough your chosen years (strikethrough is the option to the right of italics) and then email me your two chosen years.
  • Identify EIGHT historically significant events from each of your two years.  (Births, deaths, legislation, wars, inventions, publications, etc.).  For each event:
    • find a related image online and get the URL for the image. Do NOT get the URL for the page on which the image appears.
    • find a link where one can learn more about the event (no more than half the links can be to Wikipedia)
    • find a location (city, state) for the event
    • find the latitude and longitude for this location using these instructions and Google Maps
    • write a ONE- or TWO-SENTENCE description of the event. Descriptions may not be longer than two sentences.
  • In the Google spreadsheet, enter the FOUR most significant events for each year, filling out the various fields with the appropriate information.  (See below for details.)
  • For each of your two years, send me an email with the full list and a two-paragraph document. The first paragraph should explain how you chose the full list of 8 events, and the second paragraph will explain how you cut it down to 4.

The Spreadsheet’s Fields

Using the spreadsheet is easy, but it also requires the data to be input in a very particular way.  For best results, follow these instructions exactly:

  • Always add your information to the BOTTOM of the spreadsheet.
  • The first field, “{label}” is the text that will be visible directly on the timeline.  It should be short: 3-6 words (where a title of a novel or poem can count as one word).  To make a title appear italicized, type it exactly like this (without the quotation marks): “AuthorName, <em>Book Title</em>”. Don’t worry about the fact that it doesn’t look italicized in the spreadsheet, and DON’T USE THE SPREADSHEET’S ITALICS FUNCTION!
  • The second field, “{start-date}” is mandatory: when did the event happen?  Fill this in: yyyy-mm-dd.  You must use 2-digit months (01, 02, 03) and 2-digit days.
    • For example, April 8, 1999 would be entered 1999-04-08.
  • The third field, “{end-date}” is optional: If the event happened over a span of time, when did it end?  Again, use yyyy-mm-dd format.
  • The fourth field, “{description:single}”  is where you put your one- to two-sentence description.  Also, wrap the sentence–or some portion of it–in your “more information” link.  Here’s how to do it (the quotation marks in the pointy-brackets are REQUIRED!!): <a href=”LINKGOESHERE”>SENTENCE GOES HERE</a>
    • For example, General Ulysses S. Grant meets with General Robert E. Lee at the <a href=””>Appomattox courthouse</a> where Lee signs the terms of surrender that effectivley ends the civil war.
  • The fifth field, “{image:url}” is where you cut-and-paste the url for the related image.
  • The sixth field, “{EventType}” is where you identify what kind event this is: Politics, Military, Science/Technology, Economics, Literature, Arts, Biography.  Only use one Event Type. If you think that your event doesn’t fit into any of these categories, please email me before you start using a ne one.
  • The seventh field, “{event_LatLng} is where you put the latitude and longitude that you strip from Google Maps using these instructions.
  • The eighth field, “{event_place}” is where you put the city and state where the event takes place.
  • In the ninth field, “{decade}”, please type the decade in which your event takes place. Please format these as 1860s, 1870s, etc.
  • The tenth field, “{initials}” is where you put your initials, which will help me with the bookkeeping.
  • After you have entered your information in the spreadsheet, make sure that it is displaying properly on the timeline and the map.

This assignment was adapted from an assignment designed by Jason B. Jones.