(Roughly) Daily

Mapping the Nation…


Emma Willard’s “Chronographical Plan,” or “The Tree of Time” (1864) attempts to “impress upon the mind” of her young students the logic and order of U.S. history

Susan Schulten understands the way that maps both shape and reflect a nation’s changing sense of itself…and she has a keen eye for the fascinating.  A professor of History at the University of Denver and a New York Times blogger, she as devoted herself to exploring the roles that maps in general, and infographics on particular, have played in U.S. history. Indeed, given the ubiquity of infographics on the web, one might conclude that they are relatively modern; but readers will recall that they date back at least as far as the 16th Century; and in the form we know them, back as far as the 19th Century…

Two major developments led to a breakthrough in infographics: advances in lithography and chromolithography, which made it possible to experiment with different types of visual representations, and the availability of vast amounts of data, including from the American Census as well as natural scientists, who faced heaps of information about the natural world, such as daily readings of wind, rainfall, and temperature spanning decades. But such data was really only useful to the extent that it could be rendered in visual form. And this is why innovation in cartography and graphic visualization mattered so greatly…

From maps of disease and the weather to the earliest maps of the national population, this was a period when the very concept of a map was reinvented. By the early twentieth century, maps had become common tools of analysis, communication, and visual representation in an increasingly complex nation…

John Smith’s “Historical Geography” (1888) portrays a country driven by two fundamentally different ideals: the avaricious slaveholding South and the God-fearing, righteous North

In Mapping the Nation: History & Cartography in 19th Century America, Schulten “traces the rise of new forms of mapping and graphic knowledge in American life. From statistical mapping to historical atlases, Americans confronted entirely new ways to think about cartography in the nineteenth century.”

[via CoDesign]


As we remember that the map is not the territory, we might recall the emergence of a very different kind of map:  it was on this date in 1955 that a young and to-that-point unpublished poet, Allen Ginsberg, organized and held a poetry reading at Six Gallery in San Francisco (also featuring Michael McClurePhilip LamantiaGary SnyderPhilip WhalenKenneth Rexroth, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti)– and brought down the house when he read “Howl publicly for the first time.


Allen Ginsberg (right) with (from left) fellow Beat luminaries Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso (back to camera) and David Amram, late 1950s. Photograph: John Cohen/Hulton Archive



Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 7, 2012 at 1:01 am

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