This project produces and displays free interactive maps showing the historical geography of dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics since the start of the 20th century, including radical movements, civil rights movements, labor movements, women's movements, and more. Until now historians and social scientists have mostly studied social movements in isolation and often with little attention to geography. This project allows us to see where social movements were active and where not, helping us better understand patterns of influence and endurance. It exposes new dimensions of American political geography, showing how locales that in one era fostered certain kinds of social movements often changed political colors over time.

We do this by developing detailed geographic data about each movement, identitying locations where membership, activities, or other measures of support were concentrated. The links at left and below lead to over 100 interactive maps, charts, and data tables, with more to come. We started with maps and charts that show the activist geography of the Socialist Party, Industrial Workers of the World, and the Communist Party, then developed similar maps on Black Freedom movements: NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality, SNCC, and the Black Panther Party. We have added a battery of visualizations showing the geography of Chicano/Latino movements: United Farm Workers (UFW), MEChA, Raza Unida Party, Brown Berets, League of United Latin American Citizens, including hundreds of Chicano movement periodicals published between 1966 and 1977. And we have mapped more than 2,000 Underground newspapers from the 1965-75. We are now working on the National Woman's Party and NOW. We will add data and maps for other organizations as we move forward.

 

Socialist Party Activity 1900-1940

Here are more than two dozen interactive maps and charts that show the geography of Socialist Party activity. One set shows votes for SP candidates in every county. Another displays SP membership by state and year. A third maps the location of 380 newspapers associated with the Socialist Party. And we map the 353 towns and cities that elected socialists to office between 1904 and 1920.


Click to see map and photos
Industrial Workers of the World Activity 1905-1920

These interactive maps locate more than 1,800 strikes, campaigns, arrests, and vigilante events involving the Industrial Workers of the World from 1905 to 1920. Events can be filtered by year or advanced in a month by month sequence. They can be filtered by state or type of event. Hover to see short descriptions. A second set maps more than 900 local unions affiliated with the IWW with filtering by industry and date of operation.


Click to see map and photos
NAACP at the Grass Roots 1909-1977

From an early date, the NAACP was a grass roots organization with a membership that expanded across the nation. These interactive maps and charts show the growth of the NAACP from a single branch with a few members in New York City to 80 branches by 1917, to 400 branches in 1923, then surging to more than 1,000 branches and 300,000 members during World War II, and then the regional surge into the South in the 1950s and 1960s.


Click to see map and photos
Communist Party membership and support 1920-1948

Here are several maps and charts that show where the CP was active and where party support was concentrated. We show changing party membership by region and follow county by county and election by election the number of votes won by CP candidates. In close detail, CP activities in Chicago are mapped.


Click to see map and photos
SNCC sit-ins and other demonstrations 1960-1970

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was arguably the most dynamic and influential of the 1960s new left and civil rights era organizations. We map more than 500 SNCC sit-ins, boycotts, and other actions and explore our yearbook/ database of SNCC actions


Click to see map and photos
CORE sit-ins and other demonstrations 1942-1970

Founded by black and white students at the University of Chicago, the Congress of Racial Equality pioneered key tactics of the modern civil rights movement. Here we map more than 600 demonstrations organized by CORE and show the changing activist geography as the organization first attacked segregation in northern cities, then moved south sponsoring Freedom Rides and other forms of civil disobedience.


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Black Panther Party in six cities

We track the geography of the BPP in the six metropolitan areas where the Panthers enrolled that largest number of members and made the greatest impact: Oakland-SF Bay Area; New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Seattle; Philadelphia. The maps show BPP offices, facilities, and the location of key events, combining historic images when we have them with google street views of the locations today. Arianne Hermida researched and coordinates this section


Click to see map and photos
UFW strikes, boycotts, campaigns 1965-1975

When ethnic Mexican farm workers led by Cesar Chavez joined with Filipino American workers led by Larry Itliong in 1965 to strike grape growers in Delano, California, the modern farm workers' movement was born. Here we map more than 1000 strike actions, boycotts, and other UFW related events showing the movement's support across the United States and Canada.


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MEChA and Chicano Student Organizations 1967-2012

Chicano students began to organize on college campuses in the late 1960s, forming organizations with various names. In 1969 most of these organizations merged forming El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan (MEChA). MEChA spread in stages and as of 2012 claimed more than 500 chapters.


Click to see map and photos
Chicano Newspapers and Periodicals 1966-1979

Here are more than 300 newspapers and newsletters associated with the surge in Chicano activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Some were published by movement organizations, others served local communities.


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Raza Unida Party 1970-1974

Following the so-called “Chicano takeover” of Crystal City’s school board and city council in 1970, activists launched Raza Unida Party, running candidates in local and state elections in Texas and several other states. These maps show the growth and decline of RUP chapters and electoral campaigns.


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Brown Berets 1967-1972

In the barrios of Los Angeles, Chicano youth founded the Brown Berets in 1967, modeled after the Black Panther Party. The organization was dedicated to combatting police brutality and racism but some chapters also demanded education, job, and housing equality. By 1969, there were 29 chapters mostly in California but units developed in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.         


Click to see map and photos
League of United Latin American Citizens 1929-1965

LULAC was founded in Corpus Christi in 1929 and added 18 councils the next year, all but one in Texas. With World War II, LULAC began to extend its reach to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and later Colorado, claiming 82 chapters by 1955. The next decade brought LULAC new influence and a new geography, reflecting the Tejano diaspora that was now spreading into the upper Midwest.


Click to see map and photos
Underground/Alternative Newspapers 1965-1975

The social movements of 1960s and 1970s would not have been possible without the underground press, an explosive new media system that spread through hundreds of communities. Here we explore the history and geography of alternative media system with (1) interactive maps, charts, and lists that show 2,024 underground/ alternative periodicals from the decade between 1965 and 1975; (2) a filterable database of these publications.

 

About the Project

Directed by Professor James Gregory, the project has been supported by a Digital Humanities grant from the Walter J. Simpson Center for the Humanities, by the History Department Digital History Initiative and Hanauer Fund, and by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, all at the University of Washington. The Mapping Social Movements project includes two stand-alone websites IWW History Project--The Industrial Workers of the World 1905-1935 and Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California Campaign. These are collaborative efforts, depending upon contributions from many scholars. [more]