February 2011 Archives

The Grim Reaper's Road Map

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Strolling through the atlas stacks wondering what is available and I found The Grim Reaper'death book.pngs Road Map.  I could not believe that someone would map, how people die, so meticulously.   Focusing on Great Britain they included in this atlas 99 different ways to die.  The different ways include some common issues like motor vehicle accidents, heart attack and chronic heart disease but also include accident death due to electric current, pedal cyclist hit by vehicle, and falls.  The data used covers 24 years.  Each type of death is displayed in colorful visuals to show intensity in different regions of the country.


Call Number

HB1413.A3G75 2008 Q   Atlas    

Maps Library, Central Pattee, Basement - Maps Stacks

I then was curious as to what other "death" maps are available maybe not having as catchy a title.  I searched our catalog at Penn State Libraries for location: up-maps and subject: mortality and/or death and found several more interesting resources for the morbid and medically minded.  All available in the Donald W. Hamer Maps Library!! (see list below)

Google search found even more maps about death from Asbestos Mortality in Texas Map to Diabetes Death Rate Map to Firearms Death Rates.  There were several more websites that allowed for customization of the parameters that the map displayed.  These included topics on Cancer including the many types and Hospitals where Heart Attacks are treated.

 searching pic.png

Links to Interesting Death Maps


·         The Breathing Earth

It is a birth rate and death rate simulation - show little stars when someone is born and black dots as someone dies, and it keeps a running tally of how many people have been born and died since you started watching!  I love this visual of the changing world.


·         Customizable Mortality Map on Cancer

Options include Age, State or entire US, Race or Gender, Time periods, Shading Intervals, and types of Cancer.  This web site would be beneficial for visual data on Cancer deaths in specific areas of the country.


·         Death Rate Map

This map has data available on every country but it doesn't stop at death statistics.  It also includes information on major infectious disease, religions, literacy, fertility rate, and Infant mortality. 


·         Even the Huffington Post  did an article about a "Death Map": Where Americans are most likely to die in 2008.  The article noted that "people living in the South along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts have a higher likelihood of dying from natural hazard compared to residents of the Great Lakes area and urbanized Northeast."

According an illustrated chronology of innovations in Thematic Cartography, Jan de Witt created a mortality table in 1671 followed by Edmond Halley in 1693.  So professionals have been charting death for over 300 years.   And here we are still mapping where and why people die.


Available in Our Library:

·         Atlas of United States mortality [map]
  Pickle, Linda Williams.

G1201.E24A8 1996


·         An Atlas of mortality in Scotland : including the geography of selected socio-economic characteristics
  Lloyd, Owen Ll., 1939

G1826.E24A8 1987


·         Atlas of mortality from selected diseases in England and Wales, 1968-1978

G1816.E51G3 1984


·         Maps of some standardized mortality ratios for Australia 1965-1966 compared with 1959-1963
  Learmonth, A. T. A. (Andrew Thomas Amos), 1916-

G58.A8 no.8


·         Italy: annual mortality [cartographic resource]

 Unites States. Office of Strategic Services. Research and Analysis Branch

G6711.E51 1932.U4 (ref desk)


·         Maternal mortality in the counties of the United States, 1930-1934 / [cartographic material]
  United States. Children's Bureau.

G3701.E24 1934.U5

Accessed all links in February 2011


Creating Your Own Pattern Fills in Illustrator

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Several times in the course of creating specialty maps in Adobe Illustrator, I've found myself not quite satisfied with the pattern types offered under the Swatches selections.  Pattern fills are particularly important for differentiating areas when making a black and white or monochromatic map - if you can't use color, it's sometimes hard to show differences between categories.  Gray scale changes (from light to dark) are best at showing numerical data that can be ranked or are part of a continuum.  Think weather maps showing temperature ranges.  But for qualitative data, categories that are based on a characteristic like land use (forest, cropland, pasture, urban, etc.), pattern fills do the best job of being able to show where one type stops and the next starts.

pattern fill map.jpg


In the case of the maps I've made, I've used pattern fills partly as a way of setting an area apart and partly as a decorative touch.  Although Illustrator comes with a wide variety of pattern fills (including several USGS patterns), such as diagonal lines or dots, they don't quite work the way a cartographer wants them to work.  So, thanks to a handy Lynda.com tutorial, I learned to make my own pattern fills.


Start your pattern by drawing a rectangle.  Draw your pattern within the rectangle; the size that you draw the pattern is the size it will show up when you use it (it's possible to change the scale of the fill later if you decide you want it smaller or larger).  Select the rectangle; send it to back.  Then set both the stroke and the fill of the rectangle to none.  Unless you want the rectangle to be part of the pattern, it's important that it be invisible (but it still needs to be there).  Select all of your pattern, including the rectangle.  Then grab the objects, and drag and drop them into the swatches palette.  Voilà!  You've created your own pattern fill.  Of course, you may need to try again to get it exactly the way you want, especially if you want the pattern to flow together seamlessly over a large area.  But practice makes perfect, and it can be a lot of fun seeing how your patterns turn out as you go along.

richmond pattern fill.jpg

CIA Maps

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This morning I received yet another request for a CIA map.  CIA maps are among the more heavily used maps in our library, and I found myself speculating why these maps might be so popular.  Several ideas surfaced, not the least of which is that they are generated frequently by an authoritative source and are widely accessible in print and digital formats. 

CIA maps are not copyrighted, so they are conveniently used in publications and papers without worry of copyright infringement. Most of the maps are issued in 8 1/2 x 11 format and are easily scanned on widely available scanners.Egypt.jpg

They can also be used as a "portal" to other maps.  If you do not know what countries are parts of the Middle East or the Horn of Africa, you can find those regional maps to identify the correct countries and their proximity to geographical regions in the news.

They are simple maps - often depicting basic political and geographic features, also depicting social, demographic, and other themes such as religion, vegetation, water resources, and land use - that are generally understandable. 

Found quickly in our library catalog using: "Central Intelligence Agency" as author with "map" and the country's name as other limiting criteria, a successful search can also be launched in Google, specifically the US Government Search.  This Google search will most likely place you in the CIA Maps and Publications website, and if the map is offered here, it should be found in our library.  As a Federal Depository Library, Penn State receives all current copies for public use.

Our 1,309 CIA maps have been checked out of the University Libraries over a total of 1,000 times in recent years, with in-house uses far in excess of that.

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