Educator Resources

Analyze a Map

Download the illustrated PDF version. (PDF)


Meet the map.

  • What is the title?
  • Is there a scale and compass?
  • What is in the legend?
  • Type (check all that apply):
    Political Topographic/Physical Aerial/Satellite Relief (Shaded or Raised)
    Exploration Survey Natural Resource Planning
    Land Use Transportation Military Population/Settlement
    Census Other

Observe its parts.

  • What place or places are shown?
  • What is labeled?
  • If there are symbols or colors, what do they stand for?
  • Who made it?
  • When is it from?

Try to make sense of it.

  • What was happening at the time in history this map was made?
  • Why was it created? List evidence from the map or your knowledge about the mapmaker that led you to your conclusion.
  • Write one sentence summarizing this map.
  • How does it compare to a current map of the same place?

Use it as historical evidence.

  • What did you find out from this map that you might not learn anywhere else?
  • What other documents or historical evidence are you going to use to help you understand this event or topic?

CC0 Materials created by the National Archives and Records Administration are in the public domain.