Pedagogy Toolkitfor English
Community-driven resources for digital pedagogy in composition, rhetoric, and literature.


Start teaching with Neatline


Neatline is a suite of add-on tools for the Omeka content management system used to create interactive maps of historical and research materials. Neatline is a comprehensive tool that lets users create accessible and engaging online maps, with an emphasis on curation, annotation, and story-based approaches to archival documents. Neatline “opens new possibilities for hand-crafted, interactive spatial and temporal interpretation,” with applications for historical maps, correspondance, periodicals, and more.


Explore the interactive Neatline tutorial by Caleb Eckert above or at Haveford DS.

Read the Neatline Documentation.

Suggested Activities

Mapping a digital archive

Areti Sakellaris’s project creates a curated collection of archival material in Omeka and maps connections between the archival materials in Neatline. Sakellaris uses Omeka to annotate and curate Woody Guthrie’s correspondance (digitized through the Woody Guthrie Manuscript Collection at the Library of Congress). The curated records are then mapped in Neatline, including additional contextual material to make the correspondance more accessible. Sakellaris’s project can be reproduced and expanded for additional classroom applications, including student curatorial work, group-based research projects, and exercises for creating web-based arguments and exhibits.

View the project by Areti Sakellaris.

Creating non-linear arguments with Neatline and Omeka

This document outlines initial steps for creating non-linear arguments using Neatline and Omeka. Using the suggestions offered here, teachers may design exercises that ask students to create non-linear arguments in Neatline. Students will work from a shared repository of research material stored and curated in Omeka in order to undertake this work. They may then present their web-based argument to the class, demonstrating different ways to organize, synthesize, and argue from a shared collection of research material.

Read the document via Duke Wired! and Alicia Peaker.

Video guide series to using Omeka with students

Created by Arden Kirkland

Mapping movement, gender, and nationality with Neatline

This exercise asks students to map texts using Neatline. It works well with literary texts that include frame narratives and epistolary correspondance, as well as contemporary articles including news articles, editorials, and collections of blogs. Divide the class into groups and ask each group to determine the location(s) for each section of the text or corpus. The students may additionally be asked to consider questions specific to the text(s) in question, such as whether characters remain stationary or are mobile, whether the geographic region is specific or vague (and why), and so on. Then invite each group to add their contribution to the class map in Neatline; this can be done by asking each group to enter the location directly on a shared computer or by entering the information collaboratively through an exercise with the whole class. Once the map is complete, lead a group discussion in which students work through the connections between the different geographic elements of the text(s) in question. An example of such a discussion is included below.

This activity was used to track the frame narratives of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The mapping activity forced students to consider which characters are mobile in Shelley’s novel (men) and which characters do not move (women), tying mobility to gender. Mobility was also tied to the changing modes of communication (oral, clerical, and epistolary) that structure Shelley’s narrative, and which are only open to specific genders. Students exceeded my expectations for this discussion by reaching additional conclusions beyond the above. The class generated an argument about the transnational construction of monstrosity, as Frankenstein’s monsters are composed of body parts that come from multiple countries in Europe. In this way, Shelley’s concept of monstrosity undoes traditional conceptions of race and nationhood, since the monstrous body does not come from one nation, but is instead a hybrid European body. Added by Alex Christie.

Undergraduate student projects created in Neatline

The following exhibits are provided by Ryan Cordell at his Omeka/Neatline Workshop page and Alicia Peaker at her Building digital exhibits in the classroom with Omeka and Neatline page.

1919 Molasses Flood

Boston Harbor Islands

“Our City”: Boston and the Red Sox

View the exhibit created by Claudia Willet.

Sample Neatline Exhibits

Explore interactive Neatline maps created with students, special collections material, and more through the official Neatline Demos.


Creative Commons License

Grant funding provided by The Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) and the University of Victoria Learning and Teaching Centre. Pedagogy Toolkit is the result of a teaching development project in the English Department at the University of Victoria. This project is developed by Alex Christie with Jekyll and GitHub Pages.