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1 Burnside - Bldg. 2 Geography- Mapping and Cartography

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Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America


Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America Cover


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In the nineteenth century, Americans began to use maps in radically new ways. For the first time, medical men mapped diseases to understand and prevent epidemics, natural scientists mapped climate and rainfall to uncover weather patterns, educators mapped the past to foster national loyalty among students, and Northerners mapped slavery to assess the power of the South. After the Civil War, federal agencies embraced statistical and thematic mapping in order to profile the ethnic, racial, economic, moral, and physical attributes of a reunified nation. By the end of the century, Congress had authorized a national archive of maps, an explicit recognition that old maps were not relics to be discarded but unique records of the nation’s past.

All of these experiments involved the realization that maps were not just illustrations of data, but visual tools that were uniquely equipped to convey complex ideas and information. In Mapping the Nation, Susan Schulten charts how maps of epidemic disease, slavery, census statistics, the environment, and the past demonstrated the analytical potential of cartography, and in the process transformed the very meaning of a map.

Today, statistical and thematic maps are so ubiquitous that we take for granted that data will be arranged cartographically. Whether for urban planning, public health, marketing, or political strategy, maps have become everyday tools of social organization, governance, and economics. The world we inhabit—saturated with maps and graphic information—grew out of this sea change in spatial thought and representation in the nineteenth century, when Americans learned to see themselves and their nation in new dimensions.


About the Author

Susan Schulten is professor of history at the University of Denver. In 2010 she was named a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Part One: Mapping the Past
Chapter 1: The Graphic Foundations of American History

Chapter 2: Capturing the Past through Maps

Part Two: Mapping the Present

Chapter 3: Disease, Expansion, and the Rise of Environmental Mapping

Chapter 4: Slavery and the Origin of Statistical Cartography

Chapter 5: The Cartographic Consolidation of America



Product Details

Schulten, Susan
University of Chicago Press
United States - 19th Century
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
47 halftones
10 x 7 x 0.9 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Geography » General
History and Social Science » Geography » Mapping and Cartography
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
Metaphysics » Magic Witchcraft and Paganism

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Product details 264 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226103969 Reviews:
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