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What is Gettysburg by the Numbers?
Gettysburg by the Numbers (GBTN) is a web-based, interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics that raise questions and invite connections. The story of Gettysburg is more than just a watershed moment in the Civil War. Gettysburg exemplifies many aspects of the Civil War experience and of U.S. life during the 1860s. Exploring Gettysburg “by the numbers” invites you to move beyond dates and facts to questions that make the battle more meaningful and real. Delve into the infographics and the questions they raise: How far is that? How heavy? How much? How hot? How does that compare to what I know and do? Dig into the numbers to imagine the weather, the clothing, the communications, the people, the weapons, and—yes -- the cleanup from three devastating, pivotal July days in 1863.
A story of then and now…
GBTN is designed for middle school learners and up -- anyone who wants to learn more about Gettysburg. Students connect to history through the numbers and questions far beyond the typical textbook facts and captions. The mathematical concepts included are typically mastered as part of sixth grade curriculum, and the reading levels are comfortable for middle level learners. The topics range from Communications to Clean-up, so anyone can find and explore a topic of interest. Each topic includes several “details” in graphical form with short explanatory text and thought-provoking questions to think about, research, and connect with life today, other events on history, local community, or personal experience. There are no “right” answers, as these questions invite personal connections and synthesis. The questions and numbers move history beyond telling to connecting.
Why infographics? - Twenty-first century consumers of information find infographics everywhere. Data and images predominate the sidebars of articles on the web and draw us in to better understand numbers, ratios, and comparisons. Infographics are today’s intellectual data blackboard. They lure readers in, asking, “How do I compare?” Gettysburg by the Numbers utilizes this tool of today to shed light on yesterday: the tools of now to connect with then. Learn more about infographics and find tools to create infographics here.
What it is, what it is not - GBTN is a starting point for you to learn, question, and find out more. It is not intended as a stand-alone, definitive source of all things Gettysburg. The numbers shared here are intended to give context and spark thinking. As with any statistics, especially those compiled a century and a half later, there can be considerable debate about whether the numbers are exact. History is a dynamic process, and you are a part of it.
Historically researched - The illustrations and infographics in GBTN are historically researched. We have made every effort to depict the images accurately, but we do not claim that every detail is historically accurate to the buttons and bootlace. For more information on where we found each detail of information, see the “Source” links on that detail. Learn more about the sources in our teacher page about Information Literacy: Sources and More.
History’s Challenges - One of the greatest challenges in researching Gettysburg by the Numbers is that different accounts of the numbers vary. A hundred and fifty years after an event in history, you can find many different versions and recollections of what happened. For example, determining exactly how many people died in Gettysburg during the three days of the battle is difficult. Many dead likely were never identified or counted. Some may never have been found. The ways people count the dead vary: do they only count bodies, or do they count everyone who is missing and presumed dead? Do they count those who died a few days later as a result of wounds? Both the U.S. Army and National Parks Service report an estimate of 51,000 casualties.
As the researchers worked on Gettysburg by the Numbers, we made every effort to find numbers that were verifiable, either through more than one authoritative source or through simple factual research. For more about evaluating sources and the challenges of collecting historic data, see Information Literacy: Sources and more.