Monday, February 16, 2015

Geographical Perspective

I was doing a quick internet image search today for some old maps of the United States and came across an awesome post by a cartographer, David Rumsey. He has a whole collection of old maps that are amazing to look at. What interested me the most, however, was this post about 19th Century Maps by Children. Back in the early 19th century, in order for children to learn geography they were actually taught to draw maps. The results are amazing.

Old map of Tennessee drawn by a Harriett Baker in 1819.

In that post he also shares a notebook by Francis A. Henshaw in 1823 entitled Book of Penmanship Executed at the Middlebury Female Academy April 29, 1823. Henshaw has hand drawn maps of the states in the Union at the time and writes beautifully drawn descriptions of them as well. Check out this one about Tennessee. It adds insight to the history of the state and country and more specifically my family as I see what they were learning and how they were learning about their geography at the time.  By 1820 my family had already lived in Tennessee for 10 years.

To check out more of these maps and descriptions you can find them here with an introduction about the history of the finding of America:

Slideshow of Francis A. Henshaw's Book of Penmanship

and to see them individually (and even export or buy prints from David Rumsey) you can click here:

Maps of the United States as drawn by Baker & Henshaw

I'm looking forward to using this website as I continue to study my family in the colonial days of the United States and refer often to these maps to help add a broader geographical perspective to my studies. Thank you to David Rumsey for making these collections available.