Recently in Historical Category

Cram's Unrivaled Family Atlas of the World

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A  book in our over-sized collection caught my eye because it was begging to be repaired.  Thumbnail image for TitlePage.jpgBoasting the title "Cram's Unrivaled Family Atlas of the World," this book would tempt anyone to open it.  Its author, George F. Cram, was "a civil war veteran who marched with Sherman's army prior to his career as a map publisher (History of Cram)." George Cram's works are found in other areas of our library. His index in the unrivaled atlas was republished in American Place Names of Long Ago.  There are 46 titles in our online catalog associated with the George F. Cram Company.

This "unrivaled atlas" (one year of several), published in 1883, slices the world into sections, countries, states,  and statistics.  One of its statistical tables enumerates horse, milk cow, and oxen population and value by state. 

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On another page the "Improvements of a Century" can be found.

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High Buildings of the World is a pleasing graphic of "tall" buildings.

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Size and Population of the states of the United States of America creates another enchanting number depiction.

If you cannot get to the Maps Library to see this atlas, you can view the individual pages at the Old Book Art Image Gallery.

Found Treasures - "Oil Maps"

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For University Libraries, summertime is the perfect time to accomplish all those little tasks that pa road map.JPGwere so postpone-able during the hectic days of the regular school year.  By midsummer, we had started moving maps out of  gorged drawers into  more commodious drawers and in a similar fashion tugged the atlases  to more accommodating shelves.  In rearranging the "stick maps" (plats and plans and projections attached to a wood or metal pole), we found a battered cardboard box labeled "oil maps" nestled behind them.

patriotic2.jpgTumbling out of the box were maps sponsored by the big oil companies of the 1930's to 1960's, created to encourage touring the United States in gas-guzzling sedans. The 1946 Pennsylvania Road Map above is one example of these maps.

The highways and byways of certain time periods are not necessarily the most captivating information contained in them however.  Often the fortuitous finds are the advertisements at the map's perimeter or the patriotic messages plastered in somewhat garish colors to the back of the map.  The story told on the the map to the left  reads, "In these days when our democratic way of life is on trial, when hard-won liberties are challenged, it is reassuring and inspiring to look at the past."   The oil company names changed and evolved as they were bought out through time, but Esso, Sunoco, Standard Oil, and Continental Oil are a few of the heavy players in our library.canada.jpg

Certain idiosyncrasies were captured in these maps as well.  Look closely at the picture to your right of the Ontario and Quebec Tourguide Map and you will realize that the Canadian spelling of guide was at least temporarily devoid of the letter "u".  At first glance, we thought it was a typo, but noting this spelling on multiple maps leads us to believe that the Canadians were correct after all.  This Gulf-authored map encourages people"to stop at the sign of the orange disc."


On a Shell map of Ontario, we find a bit of history about Iroquois legend.  The "false-face" mask was carved roughly into a living tree and then removed for finishing details.  This sequence was thought to keep the benevolent and beneficial spirit of the tree within the mask.

Who would have thought that this forgotten carton of maps would hold lessons in history, patriotism, spelling, corporate takeovers, and etymology?

Subway, Trains, & Mass Transit Maps

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Railway Map 1908

The map is posted on flickr, and is a favorite for all the details.  Names of many little towns along the railroad, advertisements which are like a snapshot in time and the unique lettering all used to convey the information needed to travel along the rail.  This looks to have been published to encourage tourism.   The advertisers include steams companies, commission agents, hotels, railway, banks, sites to see and big game to hunt; then for the visitors with a purpose, your local detective agency to find what you are looking for.

Oh ya....... in South Africa.  I can go on and on about ..... how cool it is to view a map of the Railroads in S. Africa over a hundred years ago! 

Another map of the Railway shows your basic no nonsense here is the line and here are the stops.  No ad's enticing you to visit, no "must see" here, just the basics.  Yet the way the map is presented the colored lines, the exotic names of the places tempt me all the same.  

It's Paris in 1900. Oh to be there at Midnight!

Valerie (Our Local Mapmaker) has recently started posting older maps in the collection to flicker.  For all to share and see what is available.... And dream of what might be available.

For all my nostalgia, there are plenty of subway maps available online, for current routes and stops. Just a little searching will reap many rewards.

Here are a few I found:

New York Subway 

Chicago L Map 

London Tube & other Mass Transit Maps

Tokyo Subway Map

My Plan ...... would be to study up on these before I ever visit.  Heaven knows I study our local CATA maps often enough and I live here..... Maybe I'm a little particular..... my husband would only disagree with the use of "a little". So I'm a bit more particular. \

Anyway, if you want to spend time living in the past, we have plenty of historical maps of the railroads, subways, and transit maps to gaze at and dream of a different world. Or if your planning your next excursion, We can help!


Additional Resources:

Ovenden, Mark. Transit Maps of the World: The World's First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth. New York: Penguin Group, 2007.

Call no: Maps G1046.P33O9 2007


Dow, Andrew. Telling the Passenger Where to Get Off: George Dow and the Evolution of the Railway Diagrammatic Map. Harrow: Thomson Press, 2005.

Call no.: Maps GA795.D69 2005

And many more maps of subways, railroads, and mass transit are available, Just ASK!

Recycling Maps

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This sparked more Questions than Answers

Well I've learned in the past few weeks that recycling is not a 21st century habit, but an old tradition.  I had a request to find a specific edition of topographic maps of Russia, Published by Nazi Germany in the 1930's and 1940's.  So in the maps library we have two drawers full of the scale 1:100,000, (over 650 individual maps) but they are a mixture of publishers, and many different dates.

After I go through a drawer, approximately 300 maps, I had nothing that matched the request! Nothing!  I was at a loss, but always full of determination.  So I started on the second drawer.... And I tried a new arm motion because my arms were tired from going through the previous drawer.  The back of the third map caught my eye.  It had the edition that I was seeking. But it only showed a quarter of the map.  What?!  Where was the rest of the map?  Why had it been cut it up?  Why didn't it have anything to do with the map on the front?  The more I looked at the back the more, Questions I had.

Come to find out during World War II, the German cartography

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department was recycling old maps by printing the new maps on the backs.  So our catalogued collection is of the newer maps, these older maps

on the back are not recorded anywhere.....

Til now.

                                                  This is the map edition that I was searching for.

I went through over 650 maps to record what was on the back of the maps.  It was like a mystery hunt.  Using little details to figure out where they were of and what edition they were.  Who would have thought recycling before it was "in" but when it was a necessity.  There still is a long path ahead to figure out if we have any complete maps, and if any of them are a valuable resource to be catalogued and recorded.  There is a valuable lesson; another man's trash is our treasure.  I bet they never figured anyone would care about what maps they were printing on the back of.

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Note: the pictures do not illustrate the challenges that are faced since they are naturally only portions of maps; I'm still searching for a way to illustrate the situation in a more comprehensive method. 

Routes to Canada: More on URR mapping

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After writing last month's blog post, I was still itching to learn more about mappings of the Underground Railroad.  

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References pointed me in the direction of Wilbur H Siebert's research.  Siebert held numerous positions at the Ohio State University, beginning as an instructor of history and political science in 1891 and achieving emeritus status in 1935.  He spent much of his career amassing thousands of pages of information about underground activities not just in Ohio, but throughout the eastern US.  He sent out surveys, traveled railroad routes, and interviewed both agents and former fugitives.  

As a result of his efforts, he was able to collect or compile routes used by runaways in a series of maps.  (One such map, drawn in a schematized style, made me think of the zigzag route recommended by the drunkard's path quilt patch.) 

But a somewhat scathing remark on Siebert's Wikipedia entry about errors in his writings reminded me to do a little source-checking.  Siebert left his collection of papers to Ohio State, who released them on 16 reels of microfilm, four of which are owned by Penn State.  So I scrolled through the reels and was even more excited by what I found, references to station locations and individuals who assisted escaping slaves, in places I know.  A letter written by George Rank about his family's activities listed more than 15 stops in west central PA and the names of the people running them.  Quickly I turned to an 1871 atlas of Indiana County and was able to verify that many of the names were on the map, so to speak.  My next step will be to scan the maps and trace the path of the routes Mr. Rank described.  If I really wanted to go crazy with cross-checking, there's always Census data.  And deeds and land records....

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Given how long ago these activities were undertaken and how crucial secrecy was for protecting helpers and escapees, it may not be possible to ever know for sure the exact location of Underground Railroad routes.  But a map of possibilities is better than no map at all.  It's somewhere to start and a guide for further research. After all, if you don't know where you are, how can you get to where you're going?

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Plat Books

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There are little gems hidden away on the shelves and in the drawers of the Maps Library. BlairCountyPlat (2).jpg Sometimes, we just have to appropriate one of these gems, along with a few extra minutes to delve into their contents. Stashed across two shelves in the stacks are the Atlas & Plat Books of multiple counties of Pennsylvania. I confiscated the Blair County volume in which I hoped to find evidence of the family farms in the 1973 edition.

Searching our name in the alphabetical index to owners, I easily found the page and tax-map section associated with the two farms.  And, sure enough, there were the neighboring farm families whose names flooded me with memories of the times we spent together in 4-H.  I did not SteeleFarms.jpgknow until I pulled this atlas from the shelf and did a little research that creating these atlases was and still is an officially sanctioned fund-raiser for 4-H clubs in many states.  These atlas and plat books truly provide a wealth of historical information that goes beyond which families owned what land parcels. In this volume, the 4-Hers identify the source of the parcel information as the "Official Public Records at the Court House and elsewhere."

These little maps provide a snapshot in time. On the map excerpt above, I could see that the railroad, which bisected both farms, was still operated by the Penn Central RR in 197Thumbnail image for 4-H (3).jpg3.  The Junior High on "Bean Hill" was still listed as an operating junior high school. On the full maps, township boundary lines were clearly visible.  Dar-Will Dairy was still dishing out soft-serve ice cream in 1973 but has long since stopped, and one of the many "Friends of 4-H" listed was Samuel Beegle's Cabinet Shop, a shop that closed many years ago as well. 

These maps and atlases give evidence of urban areas gobbling up adjacent farms, small shops being superseded by big box stores, and rail commerce  taking a back seat to highway trucking.  There is a lot of history being stored in these 4-H efforts.

Dr. Seuss in the Maps Library

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Last week, the Educational and Behavioral Sciences Library held an open house celebrating Dr.Thumbnail image for ann.png Seuss who was born on March 2.  This event started an email conversation among library employees concerning his real name (Theodor Geisel)  and what he did before he became known as Dr. Seuss.  Among his "claims to fame" were the illustrations he created for the U.S. government during the World War II era and other WW II political cartoons (assembled by Philip Nel at Kansas State).  "Ann" was a mosquito created to illustrate malaria prevention for the troops, and she was featured on the backside of NEWSMAP.

One email noted that Northwestern University had Ann among its Hidden Treasures and created a Facebook page to honor her.  Mary, a long-term maps employee, pointed out that we had the poster that showcased the malaria prevention material.  Sure enough, a trip through our archives unearthed this title from the CAT -  Newsmap: Monday, November 8, 1943: week of October 28 to November 4: 217th week of the war: 99th week of U.S. participation.  Not only does this piece of history have the story of Ann the Anopheles mosquito, it has a photograph that proclaims "the Navy's new Hellcat fighter plane brings down a Japanese fighter plane nicknamed Emily near the Gilbert Islands."

Solomon Islands.jpgHowever, I assume that the primary reason Ann resides in the Donald W. Hamer Maps Library are the maps "Bougainville, last stop in the Solomons," and "The Crimea is cut off," which also appear on this encapsulation.  (We are also a U.S. Depository Library and receive and retain U.S. government maps.)  Whatever the reason, we are honored to have Dr. Seuss in our library.  Come down and have a chat with Ann.

Mapping of Faiths

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When people express something about their personal faith, it usually involves a path.... So my curiosity wondered to what maps we have about faith and/or religions.  Not necessarily the map of how to live your life, but maps of different religions that strive to answer questions about life.  These will not lead you to Heaven.... Nirvana..... or what you decide to call the time after death.  But they can give you details of others and their path through life. 

Maps in our Library:


Some maps show the population concentration of different religions throughout the world and the diversity in specific locations.

Such as this one of Lebanon: here the colors represent the different religions of the local populations.   Sunni - Yellow; Christian - Blue; Druze - red; Shia - Green.  The size of the circle designates the population size.


Other maps show how a religion moved across a geographic location.  And still another shows the outreach in lands where that religion is not indigenous.  This maps shows the population spread of  Baha'l throughout the world.  Only a portion is pictured here.



City maps sometimes show a list of places to worship included with list of their local cultural spots.  Others display the architecture beauty of the Catholic Cathedrals through mapping their location with illustrations of buildings. This map is about America, I personally enjoy the mixture of architecture, history and artistry displayed in it.  Cathedrals are beautifully illustrated across the country  along with the paths Bishops have taken.

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Online Resources

History of Religion

Pilgrims Map of Kashi (Varanasi) - Sacred location to the Hindu and Janis faiths

Rituals and Stages of the Hajj,  - one of the pillars of the Muslim Faith

Map of the Crusade Routes - series of religious wars blessed by the Catholic Pope with hope of restoring religious access to sacred sites in Jerusalem.

There are many paths people take through life,

yet how many are map-able?


[Map of the Baha'I faith]. [cartographic material]. New York: C.S. Hammond & Co., [1946?].

Call Number: G3201.E4 1946.C2


Welcome to Hazleton, Conyngham, and Drums, Pennsylvania : [map] : America starts here : where we live with faith ... and plan a prosperous future. [Milton, PA.]: Profiles of Pennsylvania, [1992?].

Call Number:  G3824.H4 1992.P7


Europe; Europe in transition [map]. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2005. 

Call Number:  G5700 2005.N3


Christian mission stations in Africa, 1920's. New York:  American Geographical Society, 1967.

Call Number:  G8201.E424 1929.A4 1967


The Catholic Church in Africa. [cartographic material]. Washington D.C.: African Research and Information Center, 1965.

Call Number:  G8201.E4 1965.A3


Lebanon, population and religious affiliation. [cartographic material]. Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1985.

Call Number: G7471.E4 1985.U5


Catholic America: a pictorial map portraying the contribution of Catholics in the development of the United States of America 1492 to 1946. [map]. Boston, MA: Chase-O'Connell, 1946.

Call Number:  G5701.E4 1946.C5


Cathedrals and abbies map of the British Isles. [cartographic material].  Edinburgh: John Bartholomew & Son Ltd, [1973?].

Call Number: G5741.E423 1973.B3


Monastic Ireland. [cartographic material]. Dublin: Ordnance Survey Office, 1960.

Call Number: G5781.E423 1960.O6


California Missions. [map]. Saint Julien les Villas, France [actual]; Santa Barbara, CA: distributed by Map Link, 2000.

Call Number: G4361.E424 2000. A3


Italy: ecclesiastical provinces of the roman catholic church. [map]. [Washington, D.C.]: Reproduction Branch, OSS, [1944].

Call Number:  G6711.E423 1944.U5


Slowakische kirchengemeinden in Pennsylvanien. [map]. 1937.

Call Number: G3821.E4 1937.K5


More on Animated Maps

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Last month I wrote about creating your very own animated maps using Animaps and mentioned that animating maps is one way to bring history to life.  One such website is simply called History Animated, subtitled "A New Look at Military History."  Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for historyanimated.pngThis site is recommended by teachers, professors, and also The School Library Journal. The conflicts that have been animated include the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, WWII Europe, the Pacific Theater, and the newest Mexican American War.

mapashistory.pngImages et Savoirs is a French company that purports to  "design and publish multimedia educational and cultural tools" and it gives us the website Maps as History.  They have created 175 moving maps that cover the Age of Discovery, Ancient Greece, the United States - Territorial History, and many more.

Museums have also created animated history liberation.png
websites.  For example, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has created 11 animated maps that depict the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz,  the Liberation and other Holocaust-related places and events. With permission from the museum, these animations can be included in your multimedia presentations.

There are many other examples of animated maps that can be found by using your favorite search engine.  Of course, the Maps Library has many fine historical maps and maps depicting historical events for you to explore and check out.

Crimean War Atlas

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I found this dainty atlas about the Histoire de la Guerre De Crimee (History of the Crimean War) 1853-1856.  It is bound in a rust colored cover and was published in Paris in 1877,only 26 years after the war was over.  This atlas could be interesting to those researching military history, European History, and Middle East and the West conflicts.  This is another time when the west and east have clashed on the battle front.  Cartographers could also see the delicate presentation of topography.


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The pages are bound differently than I have ever seen before.  Each map, approximately 8.5" by 11", is folded in the center and attached to small flaps.  This allows the map to be complete when open and flat without hurting the binding or having a break down the center of the map.


In the first three plates, you get a progressively closer look at the general location of the battles, around the Black Sea, the Crimean Peninsula, and South West Crimea.  The next three show different regional locations on the peninsula: Alma, Plateau Chersonese, and Balaklava.  The final four show specific troop locations on specific days with color codes to show the French and English lines.  Sebastopol on November 5, 1854, Sebastopol on June 7, 1955, Traktir, and Sebastopol on September 8, 1855. 

The scale varies throughout between 1:4,500,000 to 1:50,000.


To me the most interesting aspect to this atlas is the delicate lines and level of detail that were achieved in the late 19th century.   The shading which shows the elevation is particularly beautiful.  I found out that the type of shading is an example of hachuring.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hachures as a short line used for shading and denoting surfaces in relief (as in map drawing) and drawn in the direction of slope.  These tiny lines reflect the elevation.  

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All the information on the map stated that Erhard is the engraver and imprinter.  This might be Erhard Schieble, German-French engraver and cartographer, who has contributed to many maps. This is the only engraver that I found with a preliminary search.  The publishing company Hachette is still in business and started publishing in 1826 with a million primary school textbooks contract.

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The author of the accompanied history Camille Rousset was the historian to the Ministry of War in the 1870's just after the Crimean War.  He has written several other books about French history, alas they are all in French.


Call Number # MAPS DK214.R66 1894 Atlas available in our Library

This material is limited to in library use only.  However there are several scanning stations available for use. This atlas is accompanied by text available in the Stacks BA or online at Google Books.

Additional Resources

To compare another map of the Crimean War which is available through the David Rumsey Map Collection.  The Complete Map of Crimea published in 1859.  Aesthetically, the map does not have the same complete topographic lines completely covering the map, yet the font is the similar.  It lacks information as to the troop locations.  This map does give a broader view of the region, for those as unfamiliar with this area as I am.  This other map is in English which could be used with the atlas featured above.

The Crimean War

Overview of the War with detailed maps of each battle accompanied with text to explain the relevance of this war to the American Civil War Historian.  However, it is a modern representation of the area lacking the historical and aesthetically pleasing qualities of the Atlas.  This website is maintained by the Battery B, 4th U. S.  Light Artillery.

The Ottoman Crimean War (1853-1856)

    Candan Bafem

Electronic Resource available through the Penn State Library Catalog

Two Faiths, One Banner: when Muslims marched with Christians across Europe's Battlegrounds

    Ian Almond

Call Number D25.5.A46 2009 Stacks BA available at the Penn State Library

Primary Resources

Memoirs of Baron de Tott : containing the state of the Turkish Empire and the Crimea, during the late war with Russia; with numerous anecdotes, facts, and observations, on the manners and customs of the Turks and Tartars
    Tott, Fran├žois, baron de, 1733-1793.

Available in Penn State Library Special Collections

Call Number DR425.T712 1785  (2 volumes with appendix)

Wonderful adventures of Mrs. Seacole in many lands
    Seacole, Mary.

Available in Penn State Library Special Collections

Call Number DK214.S43 1857

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