05 May 2017

Persuasive Cartography (Cornell)

Distribution of Crime & Drunkenness in England & Wales, https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:19343585 


The title definitely caught my attention.  Of course, I needed to learn more!

The Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, has a collected called Persuasive Cartography – The PJ Mode Collection.

This is a collection of “persuasive” cartography: ​more than 800​ maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs - to send a message - rather than to communicate geographic information. The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools ​, including​ allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion; unusual use of projections, color, graphics and text; and intentional deception. Maps in the collection address a wide range of messages: religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.


There is really no mystery for the image shown above the correlation between Drunkenness and Crime in the 1904 map.  Some of the included maps take a bit more sleuthing to decipher the intended message.

As stated in the about section of the website …

In fact, no map provides an entirely objective view of reality.  Even the best-intended cartographer must decide what projection to use, what features to include and what to exclude, what colors, what shading, what text, what images – all of which shape the message communicated by the finished product. Every map is somewhere along a spectrum from objective to subjective, from science to art. We deal here with maps that have crossed a line – itself admittedly subjective – into the preference for communicating some message other than objective geographic information.


This map, published in 1895, shows the aid provided to educational institutions "maintained or aided by the Freedman's Aid and Southern Education Society" of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In particular, the map shows the extent of the Church's help to education "among black people" and "among white people" in the former slave states. The size of the symbols and extensive amount of data covering the map enhance its effectiveness in communicating the Church's bi-racial work.




What is your favorite map in the collection?

Which map actually helped with your family history research?

What “kind of different” map collection have you come across that is both fun and informative?



















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