maps

Engaging Users through Social Media

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The AGSL Instagram hit 1,000 followers this December!

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The account began in February 2016, and has since made over 200 posts. Students and staff alike share photo and video content of maps, atlases, globes, nautical charts, historic images, library events, and occasional goings-on about digital data.

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Belle Lipton and Andrea Ballard bring energy and fun to the social media outreach.

The theme of the account reflects many of the prominent themes of the AGS Library’s Collections: travel, adventure, exploration, and the boundless world. Visitors of the page are delighted by celestial globes and atlases depicting the night sky, and artistic flourishes on maps which add embellishment and distinguish the documents as more than mere navigational tools; especially popular are “Map Monsters,” who are scary, or sometimes silly dragon-esque creatures adorning the seas of some of the older maps in the AGS Library’s Collection.

An exciting benchmark for the AGS Library’s social media is a post from this past summer (2017) about Abraham Ortelius’ Map Monsters. The post reached over 1,100 notes on Tumblr!

 

Visitors likewise seem to enjoy maps and graphics which convey messages in unique and beautiful ways; the post with the most love is an image depicting comparative elevation of mountains in North America, coming from the Johnson Family Atlas of the 19th century (155 likes).

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As promised, Stephen got the students an ice cream cake to celebrate reaching 1,000 followers at Instagram. December 20, 2017

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Follow us @agslibrary on Instagram and at agslibrary.tumblr.com on Tumblr.

Instagram Account:

https://www.instagram.com/agslibrary/

Tumblr Account:

https://agslibrary.tumblr.com/

 

And finally, we celebrate the graduation and successful employment of AGSL student cataloging intern Sam Balistreri. Congratulations and best luck as you embark on your career.

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Sam cataloged nearly 3,000 nautical charts while at the AGS Library.
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The 1913 State Highway Map of California

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by Judy Aulik

The moment I first saw this map, I knew it was something very special. California is a somewhat difficult state to map attractively because of its shape. There’s a lot of negative space to fill, and W. Elliott Judge used the expected list of cities and their population. But wait! There’s more! He added the graphic of an outline map with other states included to illustrate its size. Several eastern states’ outlines were twisted and turned to fill the space. It’s clever, and something I’ve never seen before on a road map.

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At first glance, it appears to be bicolored, but then the red highways and wagon trails become evident. [1913ca-legend.jpg] legendHighway scarcity is expected in a 1913 edition.  Confusion, however, is generated by railroad lines not using the convention of crosshatches to represent ties (sleepers). The region around Fresno illustrates how early highways tended to parallel the major railroads of the day, which also were planned to avoid the worst of California’s mountainous terrain. The 1916 edition (not shown) is remarkably similar, except the vast amount of red ink used on highways and proposed highways is clearly identifiable.

The Complete Map Works of San Francisco, Judge’s employer, appears to have only produced California highway maps for a relatively brief period.  The 1913 map appears to be one of the first. Maps drawn by Judge appear in WorldCat, with the last a 1949 Pacific North West edition co-authored with W. Campbell Judge, presumed to be his son. Another Complete Map Works’ map series is the Engineers Official Map of … , which also cover midwestern states into the 1930s.

 

 

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Click here to view this map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection: https://cdm17272.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/agdm/id/14269/rec/1

 

Polar Exploration and the Hollow Earth

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by Sam Balistreri-Daum

As I continued to catalog the British Admiralty charts this fall I was impressed by the way the AGS Library Nautical Chart collection in many ways shows the progress of exploration, especially in those last frontiers of the planet Earth, the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Regions.  In today’s age of Google Maps and satellite imagery it becomes hard for us to imagine a time when every corner of the Earth was not known or explored.  It still isn’t!  Just think of the deepest parts of the oceans.  So I decided I needed to learn more about what it was like in a time when polar exploration was at its most fervent if not urgent and theories, however crazy, were numerous as to what could be discovered at the poles.

John Blake, in The Sea Chart: The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts (2016) gives a concise summary of the attempts to explore and reasons for the exploration of both poles.  Exploration of the northern Polar Regions has a longer history than that of the South Polar Region, which is due to the “discovery” of America and the obsession of European explorers to find a Northwest Passage to Asia and India.  Although a Northwest Passage does technically exist (during certain seasons), it is not a viable and profitable trade route.  Interestingly, much of the exploration of both Arctic and Antarctic regions was made possible by an increased availability of British Naval vessels in the period following the Napoleonic Wars.  Many of the names of ships and personnel responsible for these voyages such as William Parry, Commodore John Ross, Captains George Lyon and Frederick Beechey and His Majesty’s Ships Victory, Investigator and Enterprise to name a few can be found on the British Admiralty charts in the AGS Library collection.  The Antarctic region around the South Pole, though explored much later, inspired much anticipation and excitement among explorers and colonizers as many European nations had far-flung colonial empires.  Many early world maps and atlases, including Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570) depicted large continents at the poles, especially the massive “Terra Incognita Australis” in the South Polar Region.  There was even speculation that this large southern continent would have a temperate climate and would be populated with indigenous plants, animals and people.  Imagine that!  Realistic attempts at coastal exploration of what is today Antarctica did not occur until the Mid-19th Century and was often a byproduct of whaling and seal hunting expeditions.

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Remember how I said there were many theories about unexplored regions of Earth “however crazy”?  Enter John Cleves Symmes (1780-1829), a military captain and veteran of the War of 1812.  A timely listen to an episode of American history / comedy podcast The Dollop introduced me to Symmes and his theory. Symmes even spoke to the AGS in New York about his theory! Here at the AGSL we actually have a copy of The Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres: Demonstrating That the Earth is Hollow, Habitable Within, and Widely Open about the Poles (1878) compiled by Symmes’ son Americus Symmes. They sure didn’t skimp on the title.  The theory posits that the Earth is “globular, hollow, and open at the poles”, with a northern opening 2,000 miles in diameter and a southern opening that is “somewhat larger” (because why not, right?). The elder Symmes took his theory on the road, beginning in 1818 with an open letter calling for the exploration of the Arctic Polar Region to look for an opening, touring and lecturing until his death in 1829.  Much like the speculation that a southern continent would have a temperate climate and be teeming with plant and animal life, the supposed hollow interior of the Earth according to Symmes would have a moderate climate and an abundance of flora and fauna.  To Symmes and those convinced of his theory, the hollow Earth and its openings explained several phenomena including climate variation among various regions occupying the same latitude (for example temperate Europe vs. cold U.S. and Canada in winter), the Auroras (Borealis and Australis) and the counterintuitive migration patterns of various fish, bird and mammal species and groups of people.  Want proof?  Symmes claimed that looking at the example of Saturn’s Rings (discovered in 1610) proves that concentricity can exist.  He also advanced the notion that not only Earth, but the rest of the planets in the solar system were probably hollow too.  Including the sun!  Needless to say Hollow Earth Theory doesn’t have much traction these days, except on the fringe where theories such as flat earth and the hollow moon (Aliens stole our moon and replaced it with a hollow one to spy on us?! Makes sense…) among others are alive and well.

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The AGS Library is home not only to maps like the nautical charts that I have been working on cataloging during my time here, but a multitude of books, atlases and print materials that can be just as surprising as discovering the Earth is hollow.

 

Sources:

Blake, John. The Sea Chart: The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts. Conway/Bloomsbury, 2016.

Symmes, John Cleves. The Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres: Demonstrating that the Earth is Hollow, Habitable Within, and Widely Open about the Poles/ compiled by Americus Symmes from the writings of his father, Capt. John Cleves Symmes. Bradley & Gilbert, 1878.

“Hollow Earth.” The Dollop from SoundCloud, 14 May 2015, https://soundcloud.com/the-dollop/80-the-hollow-earth

Century of Progress Maps

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by Judy Aulik

Chicago, celebrating an ill-defined centennial, hit the 40th anniversary of its 1892-1893 World’s Columbian Exposition with the Century of Progress fair of 1933-1934. Map publishers went into overdrive to commemorate the first large World’s Fair of the auto tourism era. Oil companies which commissioned these road maps for their gasoline brands include Barnsdall, Conoco, Deep-Rock, Diamond, Gulf, Lubrite, Pennzoil, Pure, Shell, Standard (Indiana), and Vacuum Oil. Both H.H. Gousha and Rand McNally produced many road maps for the occasion: some were essentially Chicago vicinity maps with an inset of the lakefront fair grounds. Some bore specially designed covers, such as those from Barnsdall and Pure. Others showed routes with a symbol celebrating each exhibit hall. Even post card manufacturer Curt Teich published a commemorative road map for its hometown!

But not every attendee drove. Many used the railroads instead. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was an obvious choice for those west of the city. However, five electric line stations plus the Illinois Central’s Central Station served the Century of Progress and the museums.

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Although Chicago is a well-planned city, a city map and exhibit map would be welcomed by the tourist. In 1934, Illinois Central Railroad issued a Rand McNally map for this purpose.
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Oddly, this is oriented east-west as opposed to a road map. By this time, the convention of using the top edge of the sheet being north was nearly universal. Lake Michigan comprises its top edge.

The Century of Progress Deco exhibit buildings do not survive, with the exception of a House of Tomorrow, on Beverly Shores, Indiana. Since 1997, the IC rail yards are greatly reduced, and Millennium Park occupies some of the area shown on this map. IC’s Central Station is demolished, but Chicago’s lakefront was returned to the people.

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

Planisphere physique by Philippe Buache, 1756

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by Angie Cope

The AGS Library recently acquired a map of the world on a north polar projection.  The map was made by French geographer Philippe Buache (1700-1770) who was one of the first to recognize the importance of watersheds.  Buache trained under the geographer Guillaume Delisle and was married to Delisle’s daughter.

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Planisphere physique, où l’on voit du pole septentrional ce que l’on connoît de terres et de mers avec les Grandges Chaines de Montagnes… vigies / dressée par Phil. Buache ; gravé par Desbruslins. 1756

This map shows mountains and how each flows via rivers to the seas. Buache correctly identified the existence of Alaska and the Bering Strait, years before they were officially discovered.

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On the map he depicts an Antarctic Sea which turned out to be inaccurate.

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The AGS Library copy of this map is larger than other known copies at 56 x 74 cm in size (compared to 34 x 46 cm of other maps). The AGS Library map also has “Xs” in the top right and left corners on both the front and back of the map.

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The text along the edges describes various expeditions and includes mention of Bouvet de Lozier’s 1738-1739 discovery of icebergs between 200-300 feet high and half a league to 2 or 3 leagues in circumference.

The AGSL copy of this map is available at the UWM Digital Map Collection. Click here to view it in more detail including zoom, pan, etc.

Library of Congress copy can be viewed in more detail here. 

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Cartographic Craftsmanship

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by Sam Balistreri-Daum

 

One aspect of the 19th and 20th Century nautical charts that continues to amaze me is the craftsmanship.  I am currently working on the AGS Library’s set of Argentinian charts.  Working with charts in a variety of languages means learning the various nuances of how the language is used in cartography, especially abbreviations. One abbreviation that had us scratching our heads for a little while was “dib.”, which we would see in the bottom right margin of the sheet accompanied by a name.  I later found that this stood for dubujado or drawn and was again impressed by the level of craftsmanship and precision that is involved in cartography, especially in the days before computers.

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While cataloging the Argentinian charts I came across a chart containing keys for abbreviations, signals and topographic and hydrographic symbols used in the drawing of the charts in the series.  This is a reference guide for those who would use the charts.  Note the variety of styles that were done by hand before maps were engraved and then printed (click the image for an enlarged view).

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…And now for something different but related. How did a cartographer learn the skills necessary to draw maps?  For an example of this we turn to the Practischer Entwurf eines neu zuerrichtenden Urbariums (1792).  The book contains practical illustrations of (fictional) maps meant as a “how to” guide for cartographic drawing.  This volume contains beautiful colored examples of cartography, but perhaps the most fun are the fictional places depicted on the maps.  One map features such locations as Schmaltz Aecker (lard lands), Hader Aecker (discord lands) and a section labeled Anger that despite translating to “green” is actually colored in yellow.

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Milwaukee’s First Brownie–William Wallace Rowland Part Three

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by Judy Aulik

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1925 Wisconsin Official Highway Map

Beginning ca. 1924, state official maps had improved dramatically. The distractions of the Poole Bros. base map were gone. Improved highways were noted, which had always been a staple of the “Brownie” columns. The Milwaukee Journal Tour Club began to publish more specialized maps, such as Northern Wisconsin Lakes and their stand-alone Wisconsin maps, printed on heavy stock, in addition to their Call of the Open Road books.

The first blow to the Tour Club came when Wisconsin changed from the large detour maps, installed on large wooden signs at intersections by highway contractors, to the overprinted detour maps issued regularly. Each week, the Tour Club’s Information Station had updated detour information to go with the maps which membership conferred. Another Milwaukee Journal Tour Club function was superseded, although years before, AAA had begun to offer similar service.

After the Great Depression hit, The Milwaukee Journal tried to advertise its Tour Club more prominently in other newspapers. It offered more atlases and transcontinental maps as other states developed their state highway systems, and as the Federal Highway system, introduced in 1926, made cross-country travel more common.

In the same era, W. W. Rowland assumed more responsibility with the Journal. Map offerings by the Tour Club began to dwindle, and by 1933 the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club ceased to exist. Perhaps coincidentally, oil company advertising, especially road maps, reached their artistic peak. Milwaukee local Wadham’s Oil, in conjunction with Langwith, distributed beautiful maps before and after its merger with Socony-Mobil. National companies used either H. H. Gousha or Rand McNally to produce their maps, and Shell and Sinclair are especially noted for their advertising maps of the early ’30s, distributed free, of course. You can only guess what went through Brownie’s mind when the decision to terminate the Tour Club had to be made. Was it nostalgia for the earliest highway trips with his mother? Was there wistfulness for the days he coupled automotive trials and road reviews with his faithful “Poor Cuss?” Or did he merely say to his staff, “Job well done!”?

Eleven more years passed. His sister continued a woman’s column as he reached the vice-presidency at the Journal. In 1944, William Wallace Rowland passed, but “Brownie” lived on in the hearts of Milwaukeeans.

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-End of series-

Part 1

Part 2
Portions of these blog entries came from research for the Road Map Collectors Association’s publication, The Legend,  and an April 23rd, 2017 presentation at the American Geographical Society Library.

Special thanks to the AGSL guest blogger, Judy Aulik. With an extensive road map collection of her own, Judy Aulik  has served as past President of the Road Map Collectors Association, an organization founded in 1996.  Now boasting a membership of several hundred in the US, Canada, and Europe, the club publishes a quarterly newsletter, has a website, Facebook page, and hosts an annual “Road Map Expo.”  Judy is a retired Adult Services Librarian with a PhD from UW-Madison. She recently spoke to the Wisconsin Map Society about the history of the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club, and its influence on highway signage and mapping.