This Week in Geographic History: May 14-20

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, May 14

Fewer than ten years after British physician Edward Jenner vaccinated his first patient against smallpox using a vaccine derived from cowpox, the procedure was accepted enough to satirize. Here, patients vaccinated with the cowpox materials sprout bovine features. (Note that the illustrator was mocking people who believed this, and didn’t believe it himself.)
Illustration by James Gillray, courtesy Library of Congress

TDIGH 1796: Jenner’s First Smallpox Vaccination

The vaccine Edward Jenner invented helped lead to the eventual eradication of smallpox in 1979.

Map: Download this map of when and where smallpox was eradicated.

Context: Read through our short article to learn why smallpox was such a devastating health risk, and how the massive effort to eradicate it was organized.

Activity: Vaccines are still controversial. Read through our “Q&A on Measles and Vaccines”, and discuss its questions as a class.


Tuesday, May 15

Sejong the Great, commemorated by this state in Seoul, South Korea, was one of the world’s great leaders. His most lasting contribution was the development of hangul, the Korean alphabet. The original version of hangul, created during Sejong’s reign, appears on this statue: Sejong Daewang (Sejong the Great King).
Photograph by Camille Harang, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

TDIGH 1397: Birthday of Sejong the Great

The Korean leader’s legacy includes creating what many linguistics consider the best alphabet in the world.

Map: Customize, print, and download our 1-page maps of North Korea and South Korea.

Background: Learn more about King Sejong and “the world’s most incredible alphabet” with these short articles from the Asia Society.

Activity: Have students read this fascinating article about why hangul, the Korean alphabet, is so unique. Ask students how its letters, sounds, and groupings compare to English, Spanish, or other languages they speak.


Thursday, May 17

Click here to read through the entire Brown v. Board complaint.
Image courtesy the National Archives

TDIGH 1954: Brown v. Board

With Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al. the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in schools, declaring that “separate but equal” schools are “inherently unequal.”

Map: Download this map of school segregation in the U.S. prior to the Brown decision, and have students answer the discussion questions.

Background: The Brown decision was actually five cases. Learn about the cases, and listen to a podcast on the troubling outcome mandating integration with “all deliberate speed.” (You can also have students discuss how the Supreme Court decided to slow integration with the language in Brown using this great resource.)

Activity: Answer these discussion questions and read testimonies on how Brown v Board impacted different people’s’ lives.


Friday, May 18

Photograph by USGS

TDIGH 1980: Mount St. Helens Erupts

The eruption of Mount St. Helens, Washington, was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.

Visual: Four hundred meters (1,300 feet) of Mount St. Helens’ summit collapsed during the earthquake and eruption. Click through our photo gallery of to see the mountain before and after the event.

Background: Consult our resources to get information about stratovolcanoes like Mount St. Helens, and why pyroclastic flows are the most dangerous volcanic hazard.

Activity: Use the Mount St. Helens Living Laboratory Curriculum to help guide instruction on topics like earth science, disaster response, and biological adaptation.


Friday, May 18

Our favorite museum!
Photograph by greyloch, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0

TDIGH: International Museum Day

Since 1977, the annual event has honored museums’ importance to education and society overall.

Video: Watch this fun TED video to learn why we have museums in the first place.

Background: The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Learn more and find an event near you!

Activity: This year’s theme is “Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics”. How do museums interact and contribute to how we think of subjects such as human geography, natural history, the global economy, cultural exchange, technology, or trade?

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