Quick. Name the first newspaper in North Carolina. How about the second? And the third? If you’re stuck, the folks at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West have provided a tool to help you. They created a data visualization of the growth of newspapers across the U.S. from 1690 to 2011. Drag a pointer across a timeline and watch as dots pop up on a U.S. map at the town or city where the paper began. Click on the dot and you’ll get information about the newspapers in that town during the period you’ve chosen. If you want to make the Tar Heel state the center of your universe, you can zoom in to look only at the space that lies between Murphy and Manteo.
If you want to read some of the state’s early newspapers, you can do so with the help of a project completed by the State Archives in 2009. More recent student and community newspapers are available online via Digital NC.
And while we’re on the subject of cool websites, here are two more. Geography fan Derek Watkins has created a visualization of U.S. territorial expansion through the growth of post offices. And Historypin allows users to pin photographs to a Google map of the world. With a moveable timeline, you can determine the time period for which you want to see photos. The project is London-based, so the site appears to be much more populated with European images. But there are N.C. photos, including some from the State Library.