Emma Willard: Maps of History


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

Born in the Connecticut River Valley in 1787, Emma Hart Willard was part of the first generation of American girls to be educated outside of the home. As both a student and a young teacher in Connecticut, Vermont, and New York, she chafed at the limitations placed on female learning, but also the traditional methods of teaching. She went on to transform female education as founder of the Troy Female Seminary, and in the classroom experimented with new methods of teaching geography and history. As the nation’s educational system reached an ever-wider cross section of the public, Willard insisted that the way to reach those students was through a wide range of texts, maps, atlases, and graphics. An ardent patriot, Willard’s graphic innovation in teaching shows us a mind reckoning with the very meaning of time and space through an era of unprecedented territorial expansion, political dislocation, and conflict. She believed that by visualizing information—through innovative spatial arrangement and pictorial representation— she was creating new knowledge. During this hybrid program, historian Susan Schulten will explore Willard’s graphic legacy and how her maps and charts of time ushered in a new era of visual learning.


Susan Schulten is professor of history at the University of Denver, where she has taught since 1996. She is the author of A History of America in 100 Maps (2018); Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America (2012), and The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880- 1950 (2001), all published by the University of Chicago Press. She is also co-editor of Constructing the American Past: A Sourcebook of a People’s History (Oxford University Press, 2018), and, most recently, author of Emma Willard: Maps of History (2022). Her work has been funded by the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professor Schulten teaches courses on Civil War and Reconstruction, America at the turn of the century, the history of American ideas and culture, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the Great Depression, the Cold War, war and the presidency, and the methods and philosophy of history.