For the purpose of creating this map, I chose to trace the significant events in a single historical figure's life in order to better conceptualize a historical narrative not just in terms of geographic, but temporal context. What emerged was a helpful visual aid that illustrates a biography of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs – known as the first "gay" activist.
I selected the base map because it was the plainest – free from most features that would make it appear anachronistic (e.g., roadways and national borders) – but still labeled countries and cities, providing a modern reference point for users without overpowering the overall narrative. For example, during Ulrichs' lifetime, Germany was not a unified nation; he was born in the Kingdom of Hanover, what would be part of Germany today. In fact, the construction "what would be ___ today" is often used by educators to familiarize their audiences with a new spatial context.
"The Life & Times of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs" has three layers: Education (where Ulrichs attended college), Life & Work (where Ulrichs lived and worked), and Moments & Intersections (locations that signify significant relationships or events in Ulrichs' life). I selected layer colors so they would both compliment and pop against the dark base map. There are some gaps and intersections between these layers. For instance, both Hildesheim and Munich have two points each (one for Life & Work, one for Moments & Intersections). Ulrichs lived and worked in Hildesheim for over a decade; during his time there, he was fired from his job for being gay and subsequently came out to his family via letter. While it may seem repetitive to have this information divided into to two separate points, I felt it made the descriptions more concise, as well as easier to navigate (should someone like to switch off certain layers in order to explore a single aspect/theme of Ulrichs' life).
For the purpose of creating this chart, I made use of both the Wildcard and Inflection functions on Google Ngram (instructions here). Wildcard gives us the top ten most popular words that follow or precede "sodomite(s)" in all of the books published between 1850 and 1930 that Google has digitized. Meanwhile, Inflection gives us all of the derivatives of "sodomite" (just "sodomites" in this case). Unfortunately, the tool would not let me pair the two functions together, so I ended up inputting "sodomite *, sodomites *, * sodomite, * sodomites." I chose the word "sodomite" because it has maintained a relatively uniform popularity for the past two centuries – with the exception of the the past three decades (please see below). I chose the 1850-1930 time range because it is roughly the same time period covered in my thesis (the first queer public protest being in 1867 and the first queer organization in America founded in 1924), encapsulating what I often refer to as "first-wave queer activism," wherein – for the first time in the Western world – queer sexual identifiers were invented for the explicit purpose of asserting a political presence. Google Ngram logically assigns the color scheme – various shades of the same color for Wildcards and Inflections of the same words. All of the lines/data points may seem overwhelming at first, however, the overlay gives us a general picture of parallel trends while one can select individual phrases to highlight and identify specific lines.