Prototype Website of Colonial Land Grants for Spanish Louisiana

Authors: Andrew Sluyter*, Louisiana State University
Topics: Historical Geography, United States, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Historical GIS, Louisiana, colonial period, land use, land grants
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 7, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A prototype website geographically locates eleven documents related to the surveying of colonial land grants dating to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in what is now the state of Louisiana. The ultimate goal is to build a more sophisticated website that locates all of the thousands of such land grants that survive in order to use their unique data for analyses that range from personal genealogical research to helping historical social scientists and humanists understand environmental and social patterns and processes. Each document consists of a map showing the land granted and text describing it, comprising not only boundary information but artistic renditions of landscape elements such as vegetation, water bodies, and land uses as well as the ethnic and genealogical information inherent in documents about named individuals. No other set of documents provides such a comprehensive overview of the patterns of land and life of Louisiana on the eve of its integration into the territory of the United States of America after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The selection of the eleven documents seeks to capture some of the diversity of those documents. They date from 1792 through 1802. Nine are in Spanish, one in French, and one in English. They name French, English, Spanish, black, and white individuals. They occur in floodplain, coastal, and inland environments. They depict swamps, meadows, woodlands, and streams as well as houses and roads. And they use "witness trees" such as oak, elm, dogwood, and cypress to mark boundary lines.

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