“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago”*…
A page from Anna Heermans’ 1875 project, A Hieroglyphic Geography of the United States
These pages… tell little stories about the New England states and New York, in picture form. Published by E.P. Dutton & Co., a company that then specialized in juvenile texts, the pictorial atlas was intended for children’s use—an attempt to bring life to geographical information through imagery.
A rebus (the broad name for this type of writing system) replaces words, or parts of words, with pictures. To take one example, from the New Hampshire page:
More (and larger) examples, and a discussion their significance in the history of geographical education, at the redoubtable Rebecca Onion’s “Go Ahead, Try to Decode This 19th-Century Rebus Atlas of New England.”
* Dan Quayle, who might have avoided the gaffe had he paid more attention in geography class… or not.
As we consult our maps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that the first transcontinental air race in the U.S. got underway. 63 planes set out from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, vying to be the first to reach San Francisco, 5,400 miles away. The winner, Belvin W. Maynard, an Army Lieutenant and Baptist preacher from North Carolina, reached the Presidio in his Havilland DH-4 (Named “Hello Frisco”) in just over three days. He and his two-man crew rested and serviced the plane for another three days; and then returned to Long Island in just under four days. The victory made Maynard such a celebrity that the Army assigned him to PR and recruiting duty, and his native Winston-Salem named its first airfield for him.
Soon thereafter, however, Maynard fell afoul of the Army. While delivering a series of both lectures and sermons in New York in November of 1919, the Flying Parson averred that many military airmen were accustomed to flying drunk, and that drunkenness had been the cause of the twelve deaths during a recent aerial derby. In a sermon just days later, he condemned the women of New York for their lack of clothes and frivolous lifestyles. The Army yanked him off of the publicity trail and discharged him.