Storymaps assignments

A storymap is a digital expository work that makes use of a map to convey or illustrate a narrative in attractive, dynamic, and interactive ways. Most often, a textual or multimedia narrative is tied to specific coordinates on a map. By zooming in on those locations, the map helps illustrate and give context to the story. Most storymap tools present these narratives sequentially and therefore are best suited to represent subject matter that has a narrative arc. Travelogues, migrations, and pilgrimages can be compelling examples to document in this format.

Learning goals

  • Explore the course materials through a spatial perspective
  • Gain experience expressing oneself through multimedia
  • Focus on the sequence of events and the spatial relationshsips between those events


  • Storymaps are not used for visualizing data. If your goal is to use a map to visualize some spatial component of a dataset, a storymap is not appropriate.
  • In addition to illustrating their stories with geographic locations, storymap software also supports the use of images and other media. Students can add multimedia content to further enrich the narrative.
  • Storymap software and mapping software in general is less effective at indicating vague locations, such as historical regions. Most software will insist on using specific latitudes and longitudes as markers. This can be an opportunity to make students aware of the issues around the visualization of historical information.
  • Most of the software will use modern base-maps. This means that modern place-names might be visible in the storymap that may not be appropriate for certain historical narratives. An exception to this might be StoryMapJS which allows one, with some preparation, to use a historical map as a backdrop.
Student preparation

There exist excellent online platforms for creating storymaps. These platforms are free for Princeton students to use and require only minimal training. The McGraw Center has documentation for all the most commonly used platforms. It is usually not necessary to schedule any in-class training.

Posted by May 10, 2021