Tracing the Arctic Regions

Representing a 1869 photographic expedition to Greenland

Representations of the Arctic elusively mirror a landscape defined by strange light and shifting features.

“Tracing The Arctic Regions” is a digital humanities project that considers this historic journey of painter William Bradford, the 140 photographs that document it in The Arctic Regions, and how they shaped understanding of Arctic space and time. In doing so, this site also explores a central motif of the 1873 book: the contrast between what we can pinpoint on a map and what remains adrift in space and history. The book contains no map. As an exercise in spatial history--the collaborative, digital exploration of the past with a conceptual focus on space--this project attempts to explain this absence of a map by creating a new one. Besides filling a void left in historical documents, this project of tracing also aims to reveal the influence of the Arctic on nineteenth-century American thought. This site attempts to mirror the ambiguity of Arctic landscapes, which are both monolithic and ephemeral. The site’s essays and interactive map portray the sway between known and unknown that defined this space for in the nineteenth-century mind, an oscillation that continues in different ways today.

Visit the project website

Follow the Money Project is affiliated with the Spatial History Project.