December 6, 2011

Erivan Province

This card is one of a souvenir set of 82 illustrated cards–one for each province of the Russian Empire as it existed in 1856. Each card presents an overview of a particular province’s culture, history, economy, and geography. The front of the card depicts such distinguishing features as rivers, mountains, major cities, and chief industries. The back of each card contains a map of the province, the provincial seal, information about the population, and a picture of the local costume of the inhabitants. Erivan Province depicted on this card corresponds to part of present-day Armenia, Nakhchivan in present-day Azerbaijan, and a small part of present-day Turkey.

Ethnographic Map of the Balkan Peninsula

The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I transformed the political organization of the Balkans. The war had started in the Balkans with the assassination of the Habsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a militant Bosnian Serb seeking independence for his country from the dual empire. Jovan Cvijić, the author of this “ethnographic map” of the Balkans, published in 1918 by the American Geographical Society of New York, was a professor of geography at the University of Belgrade. Cvijić completed his doctorate at the University of Vienna in the 1890s on geological formations and physical geomorphology, but his interests later shifted to “anthropogeographical” research analyzing the geographical influences on ethnic and cultural dynamics in the Balkan Peninsula. Cvijić’s map is a testament to the ethnic, religious, and national diversity of the Balkans, but it provides little sense of the demographic damage that the war wreaked on the peninsula, where an estimated one-quarter of the prewar populations of Serbia and Montenegro were killed, one of the highest casualty rates of any combatant country.

General Map Showing the Explorations and Surveys of the Expedition, 1907-09

The British Antarctica Expedition of 1907-09, led by Ernest H. Shackleton, left Port Lyttelton, New Zealand, in the ship Nimrod on January 1, 1908. On February 3, the Nimrod deposited Shackelton and a party of 14 men at Cape Royds. The men divided into three groups. One would try to reach the South Pole, a second went north to reach the South Magnetic Pole, while a third was to explore the mountains west of McMurdo Sound. Shackleton, three companions, and four ponies set out for the South Pole on October 29. Enduring great hardship, on January 9, 1909, they attained a latitude of 88°23’ S., further south than any previous expedition. There they were forced to turn back by fierce blizzards and low supplies. This map, from a 1909 article by Shackelton, traces the route of the three exploring parties and of the Nimrod, on which the men returned safely to New Zealand. The expedition made important scientific discoveries in geology, biology, and other fields. Some three years later, on December 14, 1911, the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and four companions finally reached the pole.

General Map of Asiatic Russia: Showing an Up-to-Date Division into Provinces and Regions, Maritime Administration of the Maritime Region, and the Routes of Russian Seafarers

This Russian map of Siberia shows the borders of regions and districts, population centers, roads, fortresses, redoubts, outposts, guard posts, factories, mines, and ruins. It also indicates the territories of the various nationalities of Siberia and shows in fine detail the routes taken by the major Russian explorers--Bering, Billings, Kruzenshtern, Golovin, Sarychev, Gall--on their expeditions to the North Pacific and Alaska. The map was produced by the Corps of Military Topographers which, under a government regulation of 1822, was attached to the General Staff and the Military Topographical Depot “to the end that they might the more successfully carry out state surveys in peacetime and reconnaissance of localities in the rear of the Army in time of war.” In Russia as in other European countries (and the United States), in the 19th century responsibility for mapping national territory often was assigned to the military.

Great Trading Routes of the Sahara

This 1889 map of trans-Saharan trading routes by French explorer Edouard Blanc reflects the growing priority that Europeans gave to land-based trade during the late 19th-century imperial “scramble for Africa.” In articles about his work, Blanc stressed the importance of identifying “natural” geographic routes that would connect French colonial possessions in west Africa, such as Senegal, to Algeria in north Africa, and link the Mediterranean coast to Sudan and central Africa. Blanc based his maps not only on his own travels but also on nearly a century of reports from European travelers dating back to the Englishman W. G. Browne’s 1793 voyage to Darfur. Features identified on the map include dunes, rivers, and dry valleys as well as Arab caravan routes, colonial railways, and roads. The routes of several European explorers also are documented, including Gustav Nachtigal’s 1869 expedition to Sudan, Oskar Lenz’s travels from Morocco to Timbuktu in 1880, the 1880 voyage to Sudan by the Italians Matteucci and Massari, and several French expeditions from the Algerian coast, including that of Colonieu in 1860 from Oran and of Flatters from Constantine in 1880-81.

December 7, 2011

General Map of the Diocese of Pará: Shows the Division of Parishes Where the Venerable Father Miguel de Bulhões III, Bishop from Pará, Founded and Built the Diocese

This map shows the territory of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belem do Pará. The diocese was founded in 1720, following its separation from the Diocese of São Luis do Maranhão, and was centered in the city of Belém, the capital of Pará state. The map shows the extent of the diocese under Bishop Miguel de Bulhões e Souza (1706-78), who served as a bishop in Singapore before coming to Brazil in 1749. Bulhões oversaw the construction and consecration of a new cathedral in Belém as well as the reopening of the local seminary. A priest of the Dominican order, Bulhões served in Brazil during the period in which the Jesuits were expelled from the country. In 1760, he was appointed to a new diocese in Portugal, and left Brazil on the same boat as the departing Jesuit priests.