Event—Public Programming

Before GPS: Getting Lost and Found in Early America

Newberry research fellow Jamie Bolker analyzes the navigational narratives of figures like Lewis and Clark.


Tune in for this live discussion on the Newberry's Facebook page or YouTube channel. You may also register for free in advance for access to the live stream via Eventbrite.

In American literature and culture, navigation isn’t just a matter of following directions and getting from Point A to Point B. To traverse geographic space is to go on a spiritual journey of self-discovery.

In this episode of NewbTube, Newberry research fellow Jamie Bolker travels back to a time before GPS, when our ideas about travel first took root in the navigational narratives of figures like Lewis and Clark.

Bolker will discuss Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and Davy Crockett, who set the template for the heroic American traveler (even if they wouldn’t have known where they were going without the help of Indigenous guides).

Other figures of lostness—wayward frontiersmen, colonial women travelers, and fugitive slaves—also illustrate how travelers experienced their environment, forged their identities, and navigated the era of westward expansion in early America.

For this live conversation, Bolker will be joined in conversation by Newberry Director of Fellowships and Academic Programs Keelin Burke.

NewbTube is a series of brief but brainy discussions with Newberry staff and fellows.