Historic maps are one of my favorite features of what digitization projects can make accessible to the world. Useful as a tool in many facets of research including land use, local economies, survey updates, and genealogy, the range of maps available online today is extensive.
And while beautiful maps are still being created today, a special feature of historic maps is the artistic touch that so many of them contain. Some are hand drawn and painted, or use varying printing techniques. They remain dazzling on your monitor, even if you can’t see the map in person. The artisanship and care in their creation only magnifies their importance in the context of their time and of ours.
Today we are looking at a 1933 map, Being a Cartograph of Ohio, from the collection of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. A cartograph is an illustrated map, as you can see here. This map was made in Marietta Ohio in 1933, published by the Ohio Commission to a Century of Progress International Exposition. A Century of Progress International Exposition was the title of the World’s Fair that was held in Chicago in 1933. The theme of the Fair was technological innovation, and thanks to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and HathiTrust, you can read the entire program (in color!) online.
This Ohio Commission to the Exposition created an entire exhibit to showcase the features of Ohio to Exposition visitors. They also created a program that you can view online in its entirety (click the arrow icon to expand and view), thanks to the State Library of Ohio. Fun fact – one of the settees featured in that booklet is still in the Library building today!
Below today’s map is a little text summary that explains its purpose, but perhaps the most interesting part is a short summary at the end of directions in how to reuse the map as “a decorative wall piece, a wastebasket, a tea tray or lamp shade…” with tips on how to antique the finish of your new creation. The frugal and creative mindset of the Great Depression still very obviously in play, here.