Digital Visualization of Colonial Cartography: Patterns of Wealth in the Sugar Colony of Barbados

Open Access
Koby, Peter James
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Deryck William Holdsworth, Thesis Advisor
  • Barbados
  • Colonial Barbados
  • Sugar
  • Wealth
  • Historical Geography
  • Digital Humanities
  • GIS
Barbados was one of the most concentrated settings for wealth production in the early Atlantic world, but research is lacking on visualization of patterns of wealth on this sugar island during the colonial era. Colonial maps of Barbados provide information on over 800 sugar plantations through remarkably detailed symbolization. These maps were digitized and georeferenced to modern elevation data, and a database of a dozen variables was constructed from each map's symbology, including size, location, and elevation of plantations, number and type of sugar mills, and their distance from roads and towns. Parish boundaries help situate census records of landowners, servants, and slaves. These data layers reveal patterns of wealth on the island. The project seeks to contextualize these patterns within the broader economic geography of the colonial Caribbean sugar industry as well as address issues of symbolization for historical data and the accuracy of locational information in historical cartography.