ATLMaps digital project receives Knight Foundation grant

Published 07-08-2016

by Maureen McGavin

This ATLMaps example shows a 1952 land use map of Atlanta from Georgia State's collections, overlaid on the locations of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field (shown in the yellow box). The map shows that the area was previously filled with residences (green and orange shading) and some businesses (red shading). Image provided by ECDS.

An Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) project called ATLMaps will receive a $35,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight News Challenge.

The Knight News Challenge on Libraries funds breakthrough ideas that help libraries serve 21st century information needs. ATLMaps is one of 14 winners, chosen from 600 submissions. Each winner must develop their project to answer this year’s News Challenge: How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?

ATLMaps is a digital mapping project that will allow people to explore Atlanta’s history and development by combining historical and modern maps. The material can then be compared in new ways, giving users a chance to make connections among seemingly unrelated data.

The project is a collaboration between Emory University and Georgia State University. Megan Slemons is the project coordinator for Emory, and Brennan Collins is the project coordinator for GSU. Jay Varner is the lead software engineer on the website.

“ATLMaps combines historical maps and data collections from multiple Atlanta institutions and allows users to layer these resources over a modern map of the city,” Slemons said. “Researchers can explore topics such as how the railroad shaped early development in Atlanta to how demographics have shifted over time in Atlanta’s in-town neighborhoods.”

For example, the “Stadiumville” mapping project by Collins uses maps showing population, residential/commercial makeup and other aspects of the area around Turner Field before and during the stadium’s life as the home of the Atlanta Braves to explore the history of the area. The Stadiumville project, which has grown to include oral histories with neighborhood residents, will continue after the Braves team moves to Cobb County in 2017.

“This grant will allow us to devote more developer time to the project and prepare it for a public release on an accelerated schedule,” Slemons said. “Many faculty and students have already expressed interest in using ATLMaps for their research, and we’re excited to make the platform available to scholars and the Atlanta community.”

About Emory Center for Digital Scholarship

The Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) provides consulting expertise, project coordination, and a technology-rich collaborative space for faculty, staff, and students to incorporate digital tools and methods into research, teaching, and publishing. The multidisciplinary ECDS staff works with scholars at Emory and partner institutions to create innovative and sustainable models of digital scholarship and pedagogy for academic and public use. Visit for more information.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, visit

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