Front Image

May 11, 1861 Harper's Weekly, Eighth Massachusetts repairing the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridges.

Railroads and the Making of Modern America collects and makes available a wide array of materials documenting the social effects of the railroad and the transformation of the United States to modern ideas, institutions, and practices in the nineteenth century. The project utilizes the digital medium to investigate, represent, and analyze this social change and document episodes of the railroad's social consequences. Here you will find interpretive visualizations exploring and representing the ways railroads changed understandings of space and time, the development of slavery around railroad growth in the South, the migration and settlement of railroad lands, and the political opposition to railroads around rates. Railroads is meant to act as a research and teaching platform to test hypotheses, to create visualizations of complex processes, and to inspire scholarship.


The following scholarly work has been published with research or support from the Railroads project.

For more analysis and research discussion, see William G. Thomas's Blog