On the Geography and Map Division home page, we keep a list of maps newly placed online. As has become tradition (see previous Year in Review posts), to celebrate the end of a year and to ring in the new, I take a look back at the digitized maps that are now available online from the last year and choose just a few to share with you!
The first map to catch my eye is the Chinese scroll map titled Qi sheng yan hai tu. Due to its extreme length, the scroll was scanned in five parts, two of which can be seen below. It is a coastal map of China, and is one of several such maps in the Library of Congress. The map is similar, in content and format, to the six maps in Chen Luntong’s Hai quo wen jian lu (Eyewitness accounts of the coastal regions), made in 1730. The wording of several place-names and other details suggest that this map dates from 1787-1820. An introductory text states that it was compiled in the interest of coastal defense.
The scroll map contains hundreds of place-names and is intended to be read from right to left. Interspersed at irregular intervals are notes on sea routes and sailing directions. Distances are given in li, a measure that has changed length over time. The quality of the calligraphy and the cartography suggest that the map was made for the emperor. Shown is the mouth of the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) and the Macau area, the oldest permanent European settlement in Asia, established in 1557 by the Portuguese. The text reads:
“The coastal region of Xing Hui and Hu Men in Canton Province consists of an important strategic point, which should be given sufficient defense attention. This region is heavily infested with inner river bandits and sea pirates who can sail in and out freely. It also shares a border with Macau, where foreign boats and ships visit frequently. Those foreign vessels are always to be guarded against.”
The next map I found intriguing is the map seen below called Map of New York City showing concrete socialism in red, and private enterprises in white. Published in 1895 by Walter Vrooman, the map has a surprisingly modern feel. Vrooman, a socialist reformer, printed this map to accompany his book, Government Ownership in Production and Distribution. The map is an attempt to persuade readers to change their definition and view of socialism by printing in red all the ways in which the government provides services to their citizens including streets, parks, utilities, and in this case, even the waterways as the Harlem River is also printed in red. In his book, Vrooman states:
“That the principle of fraternalism is not a mere theory can be seen in one moment by a look at our map of New York City, which, although the centre of plutocratic lawlessness in America, shows that nearly one-half its surface is administered by the public, by means of City, State, and National Governments, for the common benefit of all the people.”
The next item in our tour of newly digitized maps was published in 1796 by Aaron Arrowsmith, one of the world’s leading cartographers at the beginning of the 19th century. Centered on the Hudson Bay, Arrowsmith used reports from the Hudson Bay Company and charts held by the Hydrographic Office to draw this map of the interior of North America as it was known to that point. Updated frequently, this issue is the first to show the findings of the Vancouver expedition to the Pacific northwest as well as to show the Columbia River. This map, as well as subsequent updates, was used to plan the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803, with the 1802 edition being carried by the team across the continent.
The last two maps that I found and want to highlight are two delightful literary maps by Aaron Blake Publishers. The first depicts the locations associated with the Sherlock Holmes series while the second illuminates the novels by Jane Austen. Both maps have a numbered index that describes the locations from the books that can be found on the maps.
Take a look yourself through what has been scanned this year or check back for an updated list of the scanned items added to the online collections of the Geography and Map Division throughout the year. With over 6 million maps in the collection, including the newly scanned panoramic map below, there is still plenty of scanning to do in the coming year!