Historical Land Use Maps

Eastern United States, 1850-1950

James Dyer
Professor of Geography


These maps represent an "appendix" of sorts for our article:

McEwan, R.W., J.M. Dyer, and N. Pederson. 2011. Multiple interacting ecosystem drivers: toward an encompassing hypothesis of oak forest dynamics across eastern North America. Ecography 34: 244-256.
The maps below depict conversion of forest to agriculture (and subsequent reforestation) in the eastern U.S., 1850-1950.  Data are derived from the U.S. Census, and utilize Historical United States County Boundary Files (HUSCO 1790 - 1999).  (Figure 4 in the article utilized the same data sources.) Land use data in the census became more "granular" in the 20th century, but these maps were designed to show changing conditions over time.  They represent just a sample, so if you have questions about additional possibilities, or about the development of the maps, feel free to contact me: dyer@ohio.edu.

Series 1: "Improved" land (cleared woodland on farms), as a percentage of county land area

1850 Improved Land
1870 Improved land
1880 Improved Land
1930 Improved land
1950 Improved Land

Series 2: Ohio - Percent of county in farmland, and farm land use

1850 Ohio
1870 Ohio
1880 Ohio
Ohio 1950

Series 3: New England - Percent of county in farmland, and farm land use

New England 1850
New England 1870
New England 1880
New England 1930
New England 1950

Last updated May 2020

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