AGSL Acquired “Shoreline” by Leah Evans

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by Susan Peschel

Recently the AGS Library acquired a “map” entitled, Shoreline, from Wisconsin fiber artist, Leah Evans.

Leah was one of 21 artists to participate in the prestigious 2015 Smithsonian Craft Show held in Washington, D.C. and was chosen to receive the first “Honoring the Future Sustainability Award” for this piece. The award “recognizes an artist whose work educates the public about climate change or inspires or models a sustainable response to climate change.” ( click here for more information )

Leah’s description of this piece provided for the show’s application sums up a recurring theme in her designs:

“An overarching theme in my work is human impact on the environment. Effects of climate change addressed in my current work include species loss and displacement, changes in shorelines and subsequent effects on human and wildlife communities, and water conservation. Through handwork and a majority of re-purposed materials, I create subtle reminders of how our actions can create both destruction and opportunity.”

This beautiful work is on permanent display at the AGS Library in the UWM Golda Meir Library.



French nautical charts at the AGSL

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by Sam Balistreri-Daum

I have been working as an intern here at the American Geographical Society Library for the past few months, and my work is focused on indexing and cataloging 19th and 20th Century nautical charts. These charts originate in various countries consisting of hydrographic surveys from around the globe.  This has been an amazing project to be involved with and I would like to share my progress on the French nautical charts created by the Service hydrographique de la Marine and its predecessor, the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine.

The Service hydrographique de la Marine (today the Service hydrographique et océanographique de la Marine or SHOM) is an office of the French Ministry of Defense, established in 1720.  While there are obvious military and strategic implications for the creation of detailed nautical charts, the Service Hydrographique also provided a public service by making accurate charts available to navigators sailing for business and recreation. (Wikipedia)  The collection of French nautical charts at the AGSL features charts from around the world including South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Polar Regions, the Pacific Islands and Europe as well as world maps and various tidal and atmospheric charts.


The charts themselves are remarkable not only in their accuracy but in the standards employed in their presentation.  The charts are printed using a method called intaglio printing, where the detail of the map itself is etched on a hard surface, such as copper, inked, and then pressed to paper.  The AGSL collections also features a guide to the design and creation of these charts entitled Dispositions Générales Relatives aux Cartes et Plans (1914).


Dispositions Générales Relatives aux Cartes et Plans (1914).

This guide was helpful in understanding the structure and format of nautical charts from the presentation of scale, terminology and printing methods.  Here are a few formatting examples from among the many that are included in this great resource.



Hubbard Park was once an outdoor beer garden and amusement park

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” … Ravenna Park was a private amusement emporium and was the last in a series of predecessors to Hubbard Park, a retreat on the east bank of the Milwaukee River in Shorewood. It started when F.A. Lueddemann opened his farm to the public in 1872. Otto Zwietusch, a soda-water maker and inventor, bought Lueddemann’s-on-the-River the next year fir $9,000 and turned it into his Mineral Springs Park. In 1900 it was sold again, to become Coney Island, an amusement park complete with a roller coaster. But Coney Island lasted only three years. It was revived in 1905 as Wonderland, and its owners added a Ferris wheel and a tower covered with electric lights. In 1909, R.W. Hopkins changed Wonderland into Ravenna, adding movies, a miniature railroad and a “laughing gallery.” Milwaukeeans reached the amusement park via the suburban railroad and later on streetcars. In 1916 it was divided into three parts: today’s Hubbard Park, a residential neighborhood adjacent to it and Electric Co. streetcar yards off Edgewood and Oakland Aves., which now is the site of an apartment complex for the elderly.” – Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections –



To view this Sanborn map in more detail at the UWM Libraries Digital Collections.


Here are some postcards from the UWM Archives Digital Collections that depict the amusement park as it was …


Bump the bumps, 'Wonderland,' Milwaukee
Bump the bumps, ‘Wonderland,’ Milwaukee


Panoramic view, 'Wonderland on the River, Milwaukee'
Panoramic view, ‘Wonderland on the River, Milwaukee’


Wonderland, Free Vaudeville Act, Milwaukee, Wis.
Wonderland, Free Vaudeville Act, Milwaukee, Wis.



Native American Mapping of the Belcher Islands

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This map is the central object in the story of how geographical knowledge was passed from an Inuk man named Wetalltok to a non-native explorer. In an article in the Geographical Review in 1918, Robert J. Flaherty (1884–1951) recounted the story of how, while he was searching for iron ore deposits on the east coast of Hudson Bay, Canada, Wetallok explained the intricacies of the bay’s island system and shared with him this remarkably accurate Eskimo map, which Flaherty reproduced in the article.


Flaherty later became a director and producer whose first film, Nanook of the North (1922), was one of the best known documentaries of the silent-era. Flaherty also told the story of his encounter with Wetallok in his 1924 book, My Eskimo Friends: “Nanook of the North.” Recent historians of cartography, notably G. Malcolm Lewis in Cartographic Encounters: Perspectives on Native American Mapmaking and Map Use, and Lewis and David Woodward in History of Cartography, also have used the map as an example of indigenous cartography.

The map is drawn with pencil on the back of a missionary lithograph. Notations are in English and Inuktitut syllabics. Flaherty’s annotations include “Little Whale River” [with arrow], “Whale River” [with arrow], and “3 days = dogs = app. 70 miles.”

Missionary lithograph that Wetallok’s map was drawn on.


Click here to view the map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection

Creating a school wall map in 1913

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This print shows three building views of Justus Perthes’ Geographische Anstalt in Gotha, Germany. The illustrations show the process used in the creation and printing of Justus Perthes school wall maps in 1913.

View this item in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection


Points identified in red are indexed in: Wie eine Schulwandkarte entsteht : eine Führung durch die lithographischen Werkstätten von Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt / von Hermann Haack, 1913 (viewable here: )

WWII Road Map Censorship in the United States

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by Angie Cope

The LegendI enjoyed reading David Smollar’s article on road map censorship during World War II in the latest issue of “The Legend,” the newsletter of the Road Map Collectors Association.  Map makers H.M. Gousha, General Drafting Company and Rand McNally worked with the U.S. Government to eliminate features of strategic importance from their maps.

Called “wartime masking,” the removal of features such as airports, military and war-related industrial targets occurred on maps from 1942 and 1943.

Whenever I read articles that point out interesting features of maps, I’m always curious to see them for myself. It seems the American Geographical Society Library doesn’t have many road maps by these three publishers for the years 1942 or 1943. I did find a Los Angeles map by Gousha and was able to compare the 1940 with the 1942.

H.M. Gousha map of Los Angeles. 1940 on the left and 1942 at the right showing wartime masking.
H.M. Gousha map of Los Angeles. 1940 on the left and 1942 at the right showing wartime masking

Airports were shown in purple on the 1940 map and masked on the 1942 map. Long Beach Municipal Airport (Daugherty Field) is shown in the top pink circles and Ardis Airport is shown in the pink circles at the bottom on the 1940 map (at the left). Even the map key is edited or masked, removing the purple symbol for the airport on the 1942 map.

Soller’s article is a very interesting read citing extensive research at the Newberry Library, the National Archives and the Library of Congress. I highly recommend reading the Summer 2015 issue of “The Legend.” Information about the Road Map Collectors Association can be found here:

Chinese Propaganda Posters

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by Sean Yan

Chinese propaganda posters were a product of the Chinese Communist Party in the twentieth-century, created to glorify the efforts of the party. The posters were also intended to reinforce harmony between citizens and the government. They can usually be found in newspapers, calendars and textbooks. Artists today are inspired by these posters to capture this period in history and at the same time, to show criticism. There is a growing popularity of the propaganda poster style among designers of home decor and apparel, and this style is especially popular with the younger generations in China.

It has been more than a year since I first came to the U.S. from China. Although I was born and raised much later than when the propaganda posters were most popular, there were still many propaganda poster elements in Chinese society in the 1990s. One of the first projects I worked on after being hired at the AGS Library was the scanning of about 21 of these propaganda posters. I was surprised to see these posters, which haven’t been seen for years in China, here in Milwaukee. It feels different to see this collection in the U.S because most of what I had seen was in elementary school textbooks.

The AGS Library has 21 posters in total and here are a few examples:

Left: “The Great Leader Chairman Mao Ten Thousand Years” and right: “The Great China Communist Party Ten Thousand Years”
Text on the left: “The Great Leader Chairman Mao Ten Thousand Years” and text on the right: “The Great China Communist Party Ten Thousand Years”

*Note: “Ten thousand years” is a phrase which expresses people’s worship of an emperor in ancient China, but it also can be used as a feeling of triumph. (There is a little bit of both in my personal view, the same for the other posters shown)


 “The Victory of the Revolutionary Literature and Art Direction Under the leadership of Chairman Mao Ten Thousand Years”
Text reads: “The Victory of the Revolutionary Literature and Art Direction Under the leadership of Chairman Mao Ten Thousand Years”

The poster above shows a character in contemporary ballet called “Red Detachment of Women (红色娘子军)” which is regarded as a masterpiece in modern China.


“The Unity of All Ethnicities Over the Nation Ten Thousand Years”
Text reads: “The Unity of All Ethnicities Over the Nation Ten Thousand Years”

People in the poster above are standing in front of Tian’an Men, which is a national symbol of China. The poster stands for the unity of the 56 ethnicities of the entire nation. This is a very common image that you find in offices, homes and even some local government buildings.


“Every Revolutionary Soldiers Should Always Remember Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention by Heart”
Text: “Every Revolutionary Soldier Should Always Remember Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention by Heart”

This poster reminds people of the “Military doctrine for the Chinese Red Army.”

The three rules are: 1. prompt obedience to orders; 2. no confiscation of people’s property; 3. turn in everything captured.

The eight points for attention are: 1. be polite when speaking; 2. be honest when buying and selling; 3. return all borrowed articles; 4. pay compensation for everything damaged; 5. do not hit or swear at others; 6. do not damage crops; 7. do not harass females; 8. do not mistreat prisoners.


“Thoroughly Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius (批林批孔), rapidly enhance industrial productivity”
Text reads: “Thoroughly Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius (批林批孔), rapidly enhance industrial productivity”

This poster is very representative of the great Cultural Revolution, started in 1966 and ended by 1976, which meant to reinforce Mao’s Communism by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society. “Lin” refers to Lin Biao who was the vice president of People’s Republic of China and “Kong (孔)” refers to Confucius. Due to Mao’s political theory, he encouraged the public to criticize Confucius, Confucianism and Lin who was officially condemned as a traitor by the Communist Party after a failed coup attempt against Mao.


“Mao’s meeting with comrade Dr. Norman Bethune”
Text reads: “Mao’s meeting with comrade Dr. Norman Bethune”

As a surgeon, Bethune greatly helped Eighth Route Army soldiers who had been wounded on the front line during the Second Sino-Japanese War that would earn him enduring acclaim.  Dr. Bethune was greatly praised by Mao and has been included in school textbooks ever since.

You are more than welcome to leave any comments below in regards to Chinese propaganda posters or anything about China. Feel free to stop in and check out the rest of the posters and our collections at AGS Library 3rd floor, east wing of UWM Libraries.