This Week in Geographic History: January 22-28

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.

Check out our Pinterest board for more related resources!

Monday, January 23

Jacques Piccard and his team paddle toward their bathyscaph submarine in the Mariana Trench, near Guam.
Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic

TDIGH: Piccard and Walsh Go Deep

In 1960, explorers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh traveled to the deepest point on Earth: the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

Map: Photos, maps, and more info about ocean trenches

Background: Collection of resources about the Mariana Trench and a short video

Activity: Explore this interactive GeoStory about James Cameron’s 2012 journey to the Challenger Deep—where Don Walsh was a part of his crew.


Wednesday, January 24

Fifty years after the California Gold Rush, a similar gold rush took place in Canada’s Klondike region, where this gold was found.
Photograph by George F. Mobley, National Geographic

TDIGH: California Gold Rush Begins

James Marshall’s discovery of gold in the American river in 1848 sparked a mass migration to California.

Map: Download and print this big, beautiful map of California’s historic gold mines

Background: The discovery of gold in California

Activity: Read this article about immigration and demographics in 19th-century California. What were the long-term effects of the California Gold Rush?


Thursday, January 25

Illustration by New York World, courtesy Library of Congress

TDIGH: Around the World in 72 Days

New technology (telegram and telegraph) made investigative journalist and traveler Nellie Bly the proto-Tweeter of the late 19th-century.

Map: Zoom in on Nellie Bly’s whirlwind, worldwide trip.

Background: Learn more about this pioneering journalist with articles, images, and a biography.

Activity: Use this terrific lesson plan to introduce students to primary sources, map skills, and journalism through the life and work of Nellie Bly.


Friday, January 27

A rabbi views a display of shoes that belonged to victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in Poland.
Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic

TDIGH: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The UN created this day in 2006 to honor the victims and survivors of the genocide carried out by the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s.

Visual: Timeline and photos from U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Background: Wannsee Conference outlines the “Final Solution”

Activity: Listen to a Holocaust survivor share his view on “The Nature of Evil” and importance of speaking out.


No hiding this mushroom cloud, the telltale sign of a nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site during the 1950s.
Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office. Public domain

TDIGH: Bombs Away at the Nevada Test Site

The long series of nuclear explosions at what is now the Nevada National Security Site altered the physical and cultural geography of the West.

Visual: Thousands of films showing U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons tests are freely, publicly available on YouTube—and we have a study guide to accompany them.

Map: Where did the U.S. conduct atmospheric nuclear tests?

Background: Where was the first nuclear weapon detonated?

Activity: Operation Clean Desert in the Classroom is a science module that uses characters, Dr. Proton and Adam the Atom, to educate students about environmental cleanup of contamination caused by the historic nuclear testing at the Nevada National Security Site.

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