Happy GIS Day from the Library of Congress! Today the Library celebrates GIS Day with a virtual event exploring the role of GIS in addressing humanitarian disasters. Today’s event aims to highlight the role that geospatial data and GIS technologies can play in creating positive change in the face of global humanitarian challenges. Geography enthusiasts, […]
This is a guest post by Diane Schug-O’Neill, Digital Conversion Coordinator, in the Geography and Map Division.
In 1925, Silas Sandgreen was commissioned by the Library of Congress to create a map of Disko Bugt (also seen as Disko Bay), Greenland. Disko Bay is a large bay located on the western coast of Greenland, along the southeastern side of Baffin Bay.
The southern coastline of the bay has multiple waterways flowing into the bay and many small islands. To the north lies the largest island, Disko Island, on the western coast of Greenland. Qeqertarsuaq (meaning “the big island” in Kalaallisut and previously named Godhavn) is the port town on the southern end of the island.
Disko Bay is the largest open bay in western Greenland, measuring 150 kilometers x 100 kilometers. It has an average depth of 400 meters and an average water temperature of 3.5° Celsius (full temperature range is roughly -1.75° C to 12° C); this is rising with the general warming of Earth.
While the Inuit presence in Disko Bay dates back to between 2400 and 900 BC; the bay has been an important location to Europeans since the days Erik the Red placed a settlement there in 985. These settlers relied on the resources of the bay such as ivory from walrus tusks, seal pelts, and whales, whose body parts were used for many purposes. These resources sustained the settlements with trade goods for many years.
A variety of officials were involved in the commissioning of the Map of the Crown Prince Islands, Disco [sic] Bay, Greenland: the offices of the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Commander R. E. Byrd, an American Aviator, Mr. Philip Rosendahl, the Administrator of North Greenland, and Dr. M. P. Porsild, the Chief of the Danish Arctic Station at Disko. The capital for North Greenland was Godhavn, also the location for the Arctic Station.
While many Europeans requested this map, none provided any assistance in its creation. Silas Sandgreen relied wholly upon his own observations from his home in the Crown Point Islands, utilizing sledge and kayak to visit remote islands. He mapped 83 islands and 10 reefs in a more traditional map.
This commissioned effort was created with sealskin and driftwood. Individual islands were whittled from Siberian driftwood. The wood was then sewn onto the sealskin. Next, the sealskin was painted. Yellow on the islands represents grassy and swampy land; blue indicates lakes; black shows the extent of country covered with black lichens. Tidal areas are left uncolored. Reefs are demarked by pencil. The map encompasses an area of approximately 70 square miles at a scale of 1 in to 1,760 feet and is a wonderful representation of indigenous mapping in Greenland.
This is a guest post by Sonia Kahn, detailed Reference Librarian in the Geography and Map Division. Today on Halloween children often dress up as witches and wizards with brimmed hats and broom sticks. Many find joy in the celebration of all things spooky by donning a costume and an alternate identity for a single night. […]
Starting in the 16th century, an island off the coast of Newfoundland was labeled as the “Isle of Demons.” Rumors spread that those who ventured near the island heard strange noises. Mariners believed that the Isle of Demons was inhabited by evil spirits; they were afraid to visit the island or to sail near it. […]
Many things unite humankind across the centuries, but chief among them is the great eternal question: what time can I expect the mail today? In today’s world, we’ve become accustomed to our new-found ability to track packages on our phones as they move toward us in real-time. Let’s take a look back in time to […]
“The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book — a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be […]
Please join us for the third session in a new series of virtual orientations from the Geography and Map Division! Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2022 Time: 3:00-4:00 pm (Eastern) Location: Zoom Register for this session here! Reference librarians Carissa Pastuch and Amelia Raines will present an introduction to the collections of the Geography and Map Division at […]
In mid-19th Century America, an expanding nation had a major transportation need: rail lines that could stretch from coast to coast. Western explorations and survey crews began to sketch out potential railroad routes in the decades before the American Civil War. Lloyd’s American railroad map of the US, seen below, shows three proposed rail routes: […]
This is a guest post by Manuscript Division reference librarian Lara Szypszak. On September 17, 1862, Union and Confederate forces met just outside the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. The battle, known by Union forces as the Battle of Antietam (after the nearby creek) and by the Confederates as the Battle of Sharpsburg (after the nearest […]
This is a guest post by Sonia Kahn, detailed Reference Librarian in the Geography and Map Division. To those of us here at home and across the American diaspora, September 11th has come to be a solemn day of mourning and remembrance. However in the region of Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain, September 11th commemorates […]