Mapping stories of the Kent State shooting: voices of the community

Authors: Jennifer Mapes*, Kent State University, Sara Koopman, Kent State University, Christopher Willer, Kent State University
Topics: Cartography, Historical Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: cartography, reconciliation, historical geography, protest, GIS
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


On May 4, 1970, National Guard Troops shot and killed four students at Kent State University, and wounded nine others. The shooting continues to be a touchstone of how we discuss free speech and student protest movements. Most research on this event, including the documentation that in 2018 designated part of campus a National Historic Landmark, focuses on the movement of troops and student protesters immediately before and after the shooting. Our research uses more than 100 oral histories in the Kent State Library Archives to broaden the geographic scope of the events in Kent. In this poster, we visualize the ‘where’ of memories of the May 4 shooting in the days leading up to, and immediately after, the shooting. These memories include protests downtown, university response to unrest, and the militarization of campus by National Guard troops. This poster is also a cartographic exercise, as we consider how to illustrate the overlapping (and sometimes conflicting) narratives and viewpoints of the city and campus on a map representing shared experiences and memories. We will also speak to future plans for this project: a walking tour for mobile devices and an opportunity for visitors to contribute their own stories to the oral history collection. We see this project as both a survey of, and tool to promote, reconciliation for the community.

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