This Week in Geographic History, February 6 – 12

Here’s an advance look at some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week. For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead.

Monday, February 6

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Workers head to a palm oil plantation in Liberia. Despite the nation being founded by former slaves, the League of Nations ruled in 1930 that conditions on Liberian plantations were “hardly distinguishable from slavery.” Photograph by Robin Hammond, National Geographic.

TDIGH: African Americans Migrate to Liberia

In 1820 the American Colonization Society created the colony of Liberia to serve as a “home” for freed American slaves.

Map: Liberia

Context: More info about the founding of Liberia

Activity: Watch this short video about the history of Liberia. Discuss the pros and cons of creating the colony of Liberia. How were the actions of U.S. presidents toward Liberia hypocritical?


Thursday, February 9

TDIGH: McCarthy Launches Red Scare

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 1950 speech incited a witch hunt against teachers, union supporters, and government workers for supposed communist sympathies.

Visual/Audio: Photo of Senator McCarthy and Audio clip

Background: The start of the Cold War

Activity: Choose a section from this activity about the American perception of the Soviet Union from 1920 to 1950.


Friday, February 10

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Though France lost its Canadian colonies as a result of the Seven Years’ War, French influence remains strong in parts of Canada, such as Quebec City. Photograph by Jack Fletcher, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Seven Years’ War Ends

The 1763 treaty which ended the war between Britain and France (and their respective allies) forced France to give up its colonies in North America.

Map: The French and Indian War

Background: More about the Treaty of Paris, 1763

Activity: How did the Seven Years’ War help lay the groundwork for the American Revolution? (Answer can be found in this video.)


Saturday, February 11

TDIGH: Nelson Mandela Freed

After 27 years in prison for his work fighting against South Africa’s system of racial apartheid, Mandela was freed in 1990.

Map: Homelands in South Africa during apartheid

Background: Timeline of Mandela’s life, including fast facts and photos

Activity: Listen to an audio clip from NPR’s series about Nelson Mandela and his legacy.


Sunday, February 12

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This endangered giant Galapagos tortoise lives at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos, where Darwin formed his famous theory. Photograph by Sam Abell, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin

Considered the “father of evolution,” Darwin developed the theory of natural selection, which asserts that the plants and animals that best adapt to their environments are more likely to survive.

Visual: Video about the Galapagos Islands  

Context: Darwin’s work in the Galapagos and Resources on evolution

Activity: Read “One of ‘Darwin’s Finches’ Struggles to Survive” and answer the discussion questions.

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