"Aerial Photography at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration: Acreage Controls, Conservation Benefits, and Overhead Surveillance in the 1930s"
ABSTRACT. Aerial photography played an important but largely unsung role in New Deal efforts to improve farm income. Established in 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration promoted agriculture secretary Henry Wallace’s “ever-normal granary” with production controls (1934-1935) and conservation programs (1936-1937) before Congress adopted a combined strategy in 1938. To administer these programs and ensure performance, the AAA set up an innovative hierarchy of state, county, and local committees. Experiments in 1935 and 1936 demonstrated that aerial photography provided cost-effective, adequately precise measurements and led to a concerted effort to extend photographic coverage. In 1937 thirty-six photographic crews flew 375,000 square miles, and by late 1941 AAA officials had acquired coverage of more than 90 percent of the country’s agricultural land. From its initial goal of promoting compliance, the Agriculture Department’s aerial photography program became a tool for conservation and land planning as well as an instrument of fair and accurate measurement. Local administration and a widely perceived need to increase farm income fostered public acceptance of a potentially obtrusive program of overhead surveillance.
Some of my other recent academic work
"High-resolution Coastal Elevation Data: the Key to Planning for Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise." In Daniel Z. Sui, ed., Geospatial Technologies and Homeland Security: Research Frontiers and Challenges, New York: Springer, 2008, 229-40.
"Web Cartography and the Dissemination of Cartographic Information about Coastal Inundation and Sea Level Rise." In Michael P. Peterson, ed., International Perspectives on Maps and the Internet, New York: Springer, 2008, 49-71.
“Geolocation and Locational Privacy: The ‘Inside’ Story on Geospatial Tracking.” In Katherine J. Strandberg and Daniela Stan Raicu, eds., Privacy and Technologies of Identity: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation, New York: Springer Science + Business Media, 2006, 75-91.
“POMP and Circumstance: Plain Old Map Products in a Cybercartographic World.” In D.R.F. Taylor, ed., Cybercartography: Theory and Practice, London: Elsevier Science, 2005, 15-34.
“Lying with Maps.” Statistical Science, vol. 20 (2005), pp. 215-22. PDF (3.4 MB)
“Cartography.” In Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott, eds., Geography in America at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century, London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 419-41. (Co-author: Robert B. McMaster)
“The Internet, Cartographic Surveillance, and Locational Privacy. In Michael P. Peterson, ed., Maps and the Internet. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier Science, 2003, pp. 97-113.
“Renewable Energy: A Cartographic Overview of State Programs and Regulatory Policies.” In S. K. Majumdar, E. W. Miller, and A. I. Panah, eds., Renewable Energy: Trends and Prospects. Easton, PA: Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 2002, pp. 451–59. (Co-author: George A. Schnell)
“Thematic maps in geography.” In International Encyclopedia for the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, eds., Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2001, vol. 23, pp. 15636-41.
“Webcams, Interactive Index Maps, and Our Brave New World’s Brave New Globe.” Cartographic Perspectives, no. 37 (fall 2000), pp. 51-64.