At Atlas Obscura, Mariana Zapata guides us through an 18th-century allegorical map for young people: Young, Lost, and Hopeless? This Map Will Show You the Way to Happiness | Atlas Obscura
The Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine is a treasure trove for the cartographically inclined. Its collection, which contains close to 450,000 items, spans the centuries, covering everything from a Ptolemaic chart of the world to a record of postal routes in the Dakota Territory. For much of the past decade, the library has been working to digitize that collection, carefully photographing many items it owns and presenting them for free online. It’s an effort that speaks to the ambivalent complexities of digitization, especially for archivists and researchers. Above all else, though, it’s an opportunity for the public to look at some astonishing—and frequently beautiful—maps. To better understand the Osher Library’s work, I spoke to Ian Fowler, the facility’s director. Fowler told me about the advanced imaging technology that the library uses, including a 60-megapixel camera used to capture especially large maps, and a new 3D camera…
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A while ago I shared a link to The Invasion of America digital map by Claudio Saunt. Now Marc Parry at the Chronicle of Higher Education has a full story on the Digital History Center and historians Saunt and Stephen Berry. This is the new digital direction of historical research and dissemination: Digital History Center Strives to Connect With the Public – Research – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Rebecca Onion at Slate’s The Vault has posted some scans from an 1837 atlas for the blind. You can find this fascinating post here: History of education for the blind: Samuel Gridley Howe’s Boston Line atlas.
To me an island is anything surrounded by difference, which is why we also talk about heat islands or cultural islands, and California—a densely populated landscape of great biological diversity and richness surrounded by ocean, desert and mountains, beyond which lie starker realms—is all kinds of island, or archipelago.
To call it an island is to get beyond the old idea of islands as inherently isolated; some are; many are instead particularly rich places of coming and going, of migratory birds, of goods and products and people and ideas. California is that kind of island, a place Europeans and then European-Americans mostly approached by boat from Cortez’s expeditions to the legions of argonauts in 1849, until Stanford and his cronies completed the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
So observes Rebecca Solnit, a California historian who has been spending time at Stanford studying maps up to 1860 which depict California as an island.
As to thinking of California as an island in some sense other than physiographic, I am on board! See, for example, Eldon Ernst’s and my chapter 3, “The Impact of California on the Formation of Protestant Identity,” in our Pilgrim Progression: The Protestant Experience in California (Santa Barbara, CA: Fithian Press, 1993).
For the entire reflection by Solnit, see here: