North America Polar Regions, Baffin Bay to Lincoln Sea

This map of the Arctic regions, published in 1903 by the Hydrographic Office of the U.S. Department of the Navy, shows the routes of three 19th-century British and American polar expeditions: the U.S.S. Polaris Expedition in 1871–72, under Captain C.F. Hall; the British Arctic Expedition in 1875–76, under Captain G.S. Nares, Royal Navy; and the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in 1881–84, under Lieutenant A.W. Greely, U.S. Army. The map is annotated in red and blue to show two more recent expeditions led Robert E. Peary in 1900 and 1902. Relief is shown by contours, hachures, and spot elevations. Ocean depths are given in fathoms, heights in feet. The illustration at the top gives a view of the north coast of Greenland looking southward, with mountains shown in relief. Peary (1856–1920), a U.S. Navy officer, made a total of eight Arctic voyages, all starting from the west coast of Greenland. On his voyage of 1900, he reached and named Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland. The map includes an illustration of Peary and a companion raising the American flag over a cairn at the cape, which at 83° 39’ North is identified as “probably the most northern land on the Globe.” On this same voyage, Peary ventured for the first time onto the pack ice and traveled as far north as 84° 17’ (the map shows 83° 50’) before turning back. In 1906 Peary claimed a “furthest north” of 87° 06’. On yet another expedition, in 1909, Peary claimed, on April 7, finally to have reached the North Pole, at 90° North. He was accompanied by the African-American explorer Matthew Henson and four Greenland Eskimos, who had pushed off from the larger expedition comprised of seven Americans, 17 Eskimos, 19 sledges, and 133 dogs. Later analyses of Peary’s personal log book and other evidence from the journey, however, have questioned his navigational record and raised doubts about whether he and Henson ever actually reached the pole.

The British Isles

This 1842 map of the British Isles was published “under the superintendence” of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, an organization founded in London in 1826 for the purpose of improving the educational level of the British working and middle classes. The map was engraved by J. & C. Walker, a London firm of engravers, draftsmen, and publishers that flourished in the mid-19th century. It was published by Chapman and Hall, a London bookselling and publishing business established in 1830 by William Hall (1800–1847) and Edward Chapman (1804–80), best known for issuing works by Charles Dickens and other important Victorian novelists and poets. The map shows counties, cities and towns, rivers, bridges, forts, and other natural and man-made features. Relief is shown by hachures. Hand-colored lines highlight the boundaries between counties, with different colors used for the counties of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The borders between England and Scotland and England and Wales are marked with a dashed line. A small part of the coast of France is visible in the lower right. No distance scale is given on the map. In the 1830s and 1840s, the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge produced numerous publications, including a Library of Useful Knowledge, the volumes of which sold for sixpence, and a two-volume series of maps that were known for their high quality. More than 200 maps, also sold separately, were made, and more than 3 million copies were printed.

British and German New Guinea

This 1906 map of British New Guinea, German New Guinea (also known as Kaiser-Wilhelms-land), and the Bismarck Archipelago was produced by the Geographical Section of the General Staff of the War Office of Great Britain. Germany annexed the northern area of the island of New Guinea in 1884, together with islands of New Britain and New Ireland. The Germans renamed the former New Pomerania and the latter New Mecklenburg. Also shown is Bougainville Island, which Germany annexed in 1889. When World War I broke out in 1914, German New Guinea was quickly occupied by British Imperial Forces and the whole area was placed under Australian administration in October 1914. At the end of the World War I, German New Guinea became an Australian mandate under the League of Nations as the territory of New Guinea. British New Guinea, German New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago today are part Papua New Guinea, which became independent in 1975. The map shows a small part of Dutch New Guinea (part of present-day Indonesia), and the extreme northern tip of Queensland, Australia. Relief is shown by form lines and spot elevations. The scale of the map is in miles. A stamp at the bottom indicates that the map was “Loaned by the American Geographical Society to the Peace Conference at Versailles, 1918-1919.”

South Polar Chart Showing the Discoveries and Track of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror during the Years 1840, 1841, 1842, and 1843

This chart of the South Pole and the polar seas was produced in 1847 by Sir James Clark Ross (1800–1862), a British polar explorer and naval officer who was also one of Britain's leading authorities on terrestrial magnetism. After several voyages to the Arctic, from 1839 to 1843 Ross commanded the Royal Navy expedition to the Antarctic. He made important geographic and magnetic observations and discovered Victoria Land, McMurdo Sound, Mount Erebus, the Ross ice barrier, and other features of the continent. The map shows the track of Ross’s two ships, H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror, and documents the measurements and observations made by the expedition. Relief is shown by hachures. Located more than 2,800 kilometers from the South geographic pole, the South magnetic pole is the point on the surface of the Earth at which the direction of the Earth's magnetic field is vertically upward. The “magnetic dip,” the angle between the horizontal plane and the Earth's magnetic field lines, is 90° at the South and North magnetic poles. The measurements of the dip recorded on the map show Ross’s attempt to locate the magnetic pole, which he approximated but never reached.

Doctor Hermann Haack: How a School Wall Map is Created

Justus Perthes was a prominent German cartographic publishing firm founded in 1785 by Johann Georg Justus Perthes (1749–1816) and operated by his descendants into the 20th century. Based in Gotha, the firm published the work of such prominent cartographers as August Heinrich Petermann (1822−78). This print shows three building views of the Justus Perthes Geographisches Anstalt (Geographic Institute) that was part of the firm and directed for a time by Petermann. The illustrations at the bottom show the process used in the creation and printing of Justus Perthes maps. This print also appeared in a small volume published by the firm entitled Wie eine Schulwandkarte entsteht: eine Führung durch die lithographischen Werkstätten von Justus Perthes Geographischer Anstalt (How a school wall map is created: A guide to the lithographic workshops of the Justus Perthes’ Geographic Institute), which also contained a catalog of maps for schools sold by the firm. The book is by Doctor Hermann Haack (1872–1966), a leading German cartographer and friend of the Perthes family, who worked for many years at the geographical institute. In 1912 he founded the German Association of School Geographers.

Chile, 1816

This hand-colored map of 1816 shows most of Chile, from its northern border to approximately 44° South. Relief is shown by hachures. An inset map depicts Isola de Tierra, the easternmost of the Juan Fernández Islands, the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that appears at the far western edge of the map. The map has two distance scales, Spanish geographical miles and British statute miles. Yellow is used to highlight the borders of the Viceroyalty of La Plata, an administrative unit of the Spanish Empire established in 1776 out of territories previously part of the Viceroyalty of Peru (comprising all or parts of present-day Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia). The map was included in Pinkerton’s Modern Atlas, which was published in London between 1808 and 1815 and in a special American edition in 1818. John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was a Scottish scholar and author who wrote books on Scottish history and poetry, numismatics, and other topics. In 1808–14 he published the 17-volume A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World. A six-volume edition of Pinkerton’s compilation was issued in Philadelphia in 1810–12. The map was engraved by Samuel John Neele (1758–1824), who was from an important family of British engravers who worked from offices on the Strand in London.

Detailed Map of the Country of Chōsen

This Japanese map of Korea, published in Tokyo in 1873, is one of the earliest complete maps of the peninsula produced in Japan during the Meiji period (1868‒1912). It draws on earlier maps and was edited by Nobufusa Somezaki (1818‒86), also known as Shunsui Tamenaga, Junior, a gesakusha (writer of entertaining fiction) and journalist. The map appears to have been included in Tamenaga’s two-volume Chōsen jijō (Korean affairs) published in 1874, for which Neisai Ishizuka is credited as a co-author. Chōsen and Chosŏn are, respectively, the Japanese and Korean names for Korea. The book includes more detail than appears on the map, for example concerning numbers of houses and population, as well as information about Korean history, the system of government, laws, the types of weapons produced in Korea, and the daily lives of the people. It cites references for this information. On the map, the small scripts next to the sentences of text indicate how Chinese characters can be easily read. Scale on the map is marked in ri, a unit of measurement that has varied historically and was used in China, Japan, and Korea. The red diamond shape marks Keijō, the Japanese name for present-day Seoul, and the red circle denotes P’yongyang. The large river at the north of the peninsula is the Yalu (also called the Amnok).

General Map of the Republic of Nicaragua, 1858

Maximilian von Sonnenstern was a German civil engineer who was employed for many years by the government of Nicaragua and carried out detailed surveys of the country. Sonnenstern’s Mapa general de la republica Nicaragua (General map of the Republic of Nicaragua) is the first official map of Nicaragua, created by order of the Nicaraguan government. The map contains four cross sections, showing the heights of mountains and volcanoes. Three inset maps depict the towns of León, Granada, and Viejo León (the old city of León that was abandoned by its inhabitants following the earthquake of 1610 and relocated to the site of present-day León). The map shows the international borders with Honduras and Costa Rica, department borders, roads, planned railroad lines, rivers, mines, ruins, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Relief is shown by hachures. Two distance scales are given: Castilian leagues and English miles (one Castilian league = 4.18 kilometers; one mile = 1.61 kilometers). Nicaragua was long considered a possible location for an isthmian canal. In 1874 Sonnenstern published Report of the Nicaragua Route for an Interoceanic Ship Canal, which was commissioned by the Nicaraguan minister of public works and published in the United States by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.

General Map of the Republic of El Salvador, 1858

Maximilian von Sonnenstern was a German civil engineer who was employed for many years by the government of Nicaragua and carried out detailed surveys of the country. Sonnenstern also produced maps of other Central American countries. His Mapa general de la republica de Salvador (General map of the Republic of El Salvador), created in 1858 and published in 1859, was commissioned by Rafael Campo (1813‒90), president of El Salvador in 1856‒58. The map contains nine cross sections, showing the heights of mountains and volcanoes. An inset map depicts Nueva San Salvador, generally known today as Santa Tecla, which was founded in 1854 and briefly served as the national capital when San Salvador (located 11 kilometers to the northeast) was devastated by an earthquake. The map shows international borders with Guatemala and Honduras, department borders, cities and towns, rivers, roads, planned railroad lines, mines, mills, and the Pacific Ocean. Relief is shown by hachures. Two distance scales are given: Castilian leagues and English miles (one Castilian league = 4.18 kilometers; one mile = 1.61 kilometers).

Top of the Niger Bend, Lakes Region, as Observed during the Gironcourt Mission

This map shows a part of the great bend of the Niger River, the portion of the river east of Timbuktu (also seen as Timbouctou, in present-day Mali) where the Niger heads in a northeasterly direction toward the Sahara Desert before turning south near the town of Bourem and resuming its course toward the Atlantic Ocean. The map was produced by the Gironcourt Mission of 1908‒9, an expedition to the region sponsored by the French government and led by the French engineer and agronomist Georges de Gironcourt (1878‒1960). Mali was at that time part of the territory of Senegambia-Niger, administered by the French as part of the Government-General of West Africa. Gironcourt published an account of his mission in Missions de Gironcourt en Afrique occidentale (1920). The map includes descriptions of the terrain, flora, and geology of the region, and shows the flood plains on the section of the Niger River between Timbuktu and Dounzou (also seen as Doulsou, in present-day Niger). Relief is shown by form lines. The map shows the streams running into the Niger and the lakes and ponds that dot this desert region, many of which contain water for only a part of the year. The main inhabitants of this region are the nomadic Tuareg people. The names of the different Tuareg confederations and their territories are indicated in red. In the south are shown the areas inhabited by the sedentary Sonrai (also Songhai) people. A stamp at the bottom indicates that the map was “Loaned by the American Geographical Society to the Peace Conference at Versailles, 1918-1919.”