Memorizing states and their capitals


My history teacher told us to memorize all fifty states and their capitals in the US by October 3. How should I go about memorizing them and what techniques should I use?

(Josh Cohen) #2

If you just want to memorize their names, you could put them in a memory palace*. You could create a journey with 50 locations and then put two mnemonic images in each location – one for the state and one for the capital.
Here’s a partial list:

  1. Alabama: Montgomery
  2. Alaska: Juneau
  3. Arizona: Phoenix
  4. Arkansas: Little Rock

Alabama is first. Picture something that reminds you of Alabama and create a visual image of it. Then create an image for the word Montgomerey (a mountain?) and connect it to the image for Alabama and place it in the first location of your memory palace.

Alaska/Juneau is second. I’d picture a moose and Juno at the second location.

Arizona/Phoenix: a cactus and a phoenix.

Arkansas/Little Rock: an ark on a little rock. I’d probably add Bill Clinton, because I know that he is from Little Rock and that would remind me.

Here’s a full list for reference (from Wikipedia):

  1. Alabama: Montgomery
  2. Alaska: Juneau
  3. Arizona: Phoenix
  4. Arkansas: Little Rock
  5. California: Sacramento
  6. Colorado: Denver
  7. Connecticut: Hartford
  8. Delaware: Dover
  9. Florida: Tallahassee
  10. Georgia: Atlanta
  11. Hawaii: Honolulu
  12. Idaho: Boise
  13. Illinois: Springfield
  14. Indiana: Indianapolis
  15. Iowa: Des Moines
  16. Kansas: Topeka
  17. Kentucky: Frankfort
  18. Louisiana: Baton Rouge
  19. Maine: Augusta
  20. Maryland: Annapolis
  21. Massachusetts: Boston
  22. Michigan: Lansing
  23. Minnesota: Saint Paul
  24. Mississippi: Jackson
  25. Missouri: Jefferson City
  26. Montana: Helena
  27. Nebraska: Lincoln
  28. Nevada: Carson City
  29. New Hampshire: Concord
  30. New Jersey: Trenton
  31. New Mexico: Santa Fe
  32. New York: Albany
  33. North Carolina: Raleigh
  34. North Dakota: Bismarck
  35. Ohio: Columbus
  36. Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
  37. Oregon: Salem
  38. Pennsylvania: Harrisburg
  39. Rhode Island: Providence
  40. South Carolina: Columbia
  41. South Dakota: Pierre
  42. Tennessee: Nashville
  43. Texas: Austin
  44. Utah: Salt Lake City
  45. Vermont: Montpelier
  46. Virginia: Richmond
  47. Washington: Olympia
  48. West Virginia: Charleston
  49. Wisconsin: Madison
  50. Wyoming: Cheyenne

If you want to memorize the map too, see this discussion about US geography.

*Edit: If you use a memory palace, it will keep them all in order and you’ll be able to recite them forwards and backwards without skipping any.

If you just need a quick way to recall the capital when given a state name, you can simply link the state names with the capital names using mnemonic images.


Thank very much!