Crossings: Mapping American Journeys | Newberry

Crossings: Mapping American Journeys

Led by James R Akerman and Gabrielle Guillerm
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Thursdays April 21-May 19. Four sessions. Class will not meet on May 12th.


In person

Newberry Adult Education Seminars will meet both virtually and in the building for the Winter/Spring term. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please reach out to Registration opens Wednesday, January 19th at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.

Register via Learning Stream here

This is an in-person class at the Newberry. Following guidance from public health officials, all visitors are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Learn more about our visitor policy and the measures we’re taking to create a safe learning environment at the Newberry

Seminar Description

Travelers and traveling have long been associated with American history and identity, but the history of American travel is complex, embracing tourism, migration, the displacement of Indigenous people, and the flight to freedom by the enslaved. The upcoming exhibition, Crossings: Mapping American Journeys examines the history of travel in the United States across four durable pathways, or “crossings” that have witnessed American travel in all of it complexity.

This four-week course, led by the curators of the exhibition, examines the history of cartography underlying the concept of the exhibition. Over a four weeks of reading and mutual discovery we will examine in turn, the maps and guidebooks made by and for explorers, migrants, tourists, and other travelers. The seminar will be organized thematically, focusing in turn on: the geography of American travel; mapping migration and displacement; railroad, road, and airline mapping; and tourism. A small amount of reading will be required for each session, but the primary emphasis will be on close reading of selected objects from the exhibition, as well as other materials from the Newberry’s collections. .

Four Sessions. Registration – $195/$175

James R Akerman is Director of the Newberry’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and Curator of Maps at the Newberry Library. He is the author of many studies of the social and political aspects of mapping, transportation and travel cartography, and the history of atlases. He is the curator of the exhibition Crossings: Mapping American Journeys

Gabrielle Guillerm holds a PhD in History from Northwestern University. She is a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Chabraja Center for Historical Studies and has helped curate the exhibition Crossings: Mapping American Journeys. Her research examines the role of missionaries in U.S. westward expansion between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Materials List


  • Digital Course Packet

First Reading:

  • In lieu of a first reading, we will tour the exhibit.

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, January 19th . Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning January 12th at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: The Newberry uses Learning for all Adult Education Seminar registrations. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.