DH Lab #2: Google Maps and Huck Finn

Digital Humanities Lab #2 Using Google Maps to Create a Geographic Plot Summary and Analysis of Huckleberry Finn


  • Learn how to use custom Google Maps as an alternative essay format that provides 3-D information about your subject matter.
  • Learn how to annotate a Google Map
  • Think about the “river of life” in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by plotting events in the novel onto a physical map of the Mississippi River and its surrounding area.
  • Think about the plot of Huck Finn in terms of the geography of slave states and free states and how that geography functions as a meaningful narrative undercurrent throughout.


  1. Begin by opening two tabs, one with Moodle and one with Google Maps here: https://maps.google.com/
  2. Next click on “Get Directions” and type in “FROM Eugene Oregon” “TO Hannibal Missouri”
  3. 1948 miles, 30 hours by car.
  4. Next click on “My places”
  5. Next click on “Maps”
  6. Next click on the red square button that says “Create Map”
  7. [Click on the “interactive tutorial” link so that you get a feel for how to create your own Huck Finn map.]
  8. Title your map using your first name and “Huck Finn” and click on the “unlisted” option to keep your work private. Save your map.
  9. To get credit for your DH Lab today, click “done” and then go to “My Maps” then click on the title of your map, click on the blue “collaborate” link and then cut and paste your URL into the DH Lab in Moodle.  Once you have created content in your map, this will show up when Doc McGrail grades the lab.
  10. To begin adding content to your map, search for the REAL place of “Hannibal, Missouri” so that you can begin to plot your map in St. Petersburg, Missouri, the fictionalized place in Huck Finn. See below where I have typed in “Hannibal, MO”.


Now that you know where to begin, you’ll want to put your own “custom place” into your map. Find the blue balloon icon and click on it. Blue balloon

Blue balloon is the middle icon next to the “hand” above.


12. Use the zoom feature on the left to give you a broader view of the Mississippi and Huck and Jim’s journey. Use the “hand” icon to move the map around so you can follow the Mississippi all the way from St. Petersburg to the end of the novel.

13. One scholar of Twain has created a map that offers a tour through the novel and includes some historical material. Take a look at Byer’s Google Map analysis of the novel here to get a sense of the potential for this project: http://www.ibiblio.org/byers/maps/hf/

map 313. For today, your job is to create a map entry for one of the episodes in your reading so far. [Look below to see a list of episodes or choose one that sticks out in your mind so far.] To do this, locate where the episode takes place geographically and place a blue map icon there. There is a map below with some clues, and you can also use Byer’s Huck Finn’s Journey assignment to help you choose. Create a blue icon for your location and move it to the place on your own map where you think it should go.

14. To get credit for your DH Lab today, post the URL to your saved map and include a comment in your blue icon box . TO DO THIS: When you’re done, you can click “done” and then go to “My Maps” and you’ll be able to click on your map, click on “collaborate” and then cut and paste your URL into the DH Lab in Moodle

NOTE: If this project appeals to you, you can also develop it for your CLOSE READING NOTE for Monday.  For the reading note, choose 4 other episodes from the novel, and create an analytical note for each. Your analytical note should include some in-depth discussion of the following:

  • A key quote
  • A key conflict of this episode
  • A key lesson that Huck learns through this episode
  • How this episode contributes to the “imagined community” of the developing American nation, either in its moral questions, its customs and manners, its dialect, the myths it adheres to, ideas of race, class, gender, education….
  • A key question that the episode suggests

 Suggested episodic table of contents. 

  • This list is taken from Seth Hudson’s English Class Blog Choose one of these episodes to map in your Google Map
  • Episode One: Chapters 1-4
    Characters introduced, We see Huck’s conflict with society.
  • Episode Two: Chapters 5-7
    Huck is Kidnapped by and escapes from Pap.
  • Episode Three: Chapters 8-11
    Huck meets Jim; they salvage the house w/ the dead man. Huck dresses like a girl to get info.
  • Episode Four: Chapters 12-15
    Huck and Jim interact with the robbers on the Walter Scott
  • Episode Five: Chapters 16-18
    Huck and Jim make it to Cairo. The Grangerfords vs. the Shepardsons. Back on the Mississippi
  • Episode Six: Chapters19-20
    The Duke and the King are introduced. Indian Pirate con.
  • Episode Seven: 21-23
    The Royale Nonesuch
  • Episode Eight: 24-30
    The death of Peter Wilks
  • Episode Nine: 31-33
    Jim is sold by the King. The King and the Duke strike out on their own. Huck becomes Tom Sawyer
  • Episode Ten: 34-43
    Huck and Tom “free” Jim.

From David Wells, “More on the Geography of Huck Finn” South Atlantic Bulletin 38.4 Nov. 1973

map 2map 1

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