Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library

Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is dedicated to the creative educational use of its cartographic holdings, which extend from the 15th century to the present.
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The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is a nonprofit organization established as a public-private partnership between the Library and philanthropist Norman Leventhal. Its mission is to use the collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases for the enjoyment and education of all through exhibitions, educational programs, and a website that includes more than 3,700 digitized maps. The map collection is global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present, with a particular strength in maps and atlases from the New England region, American Revolutionary War period, nautical charts, and world urban centers. The Leventhal Map Center is located on the first floor of the Library’s historic McKim Building in Copley Square. It includes an exhibition gallery that features changing thematic exhibitions, a public learning center with research books, and a reading room for rare map research. Other elements include a world globe three feet in diameter and a Kids Map Club with map puzzles, books and activities. Educational programs for students in grades K to 12 are offered to school groups on site and in the classroom. More than 100 lesson plans based on national standards are available on the website, and professional development programs for teachers are scheduled regularly throughout the year. The Leventhal Map Center is ranked among the top ten in the United States for the size of its collection, the significance of its historic (pre-1900) material, and its advanced digitization program. It is unique among the major collections because it also combines these features with exceptional educational programs to advance geographic literacy among students in grades K to 12 and enhance the teaching of subjects from history to mathematics to language arts. The collection is also the second largest in the country located in a public library, ensuring unlimited access to these invaluable resources for scholars, educators, and the general public.

Mission: The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is dedicated to the creative educational use of its cartographic holdings, which extend from the 15th century to the present.

Which part of Massachusetts is the most burdened by the environmental hazards of toxic waste? The answer depends on how ...
05/26/2020

Which part of Massachusetts is the most burdened by the environmental hazards of toxic waste? The answer depends on how you look at the data—reminding us that "data" alone never comes to its own conclusions.

Guest cartographer Maggie Owens participated in the "Same Data, Different Stories" project for our exhibition "Bending Lines: Maps and Data From Distortion to Deception." Her maps of toxic hazards in Massachusetts show that we can create visual narratives drawing very different conclusions even when using the same data set.

Maggie joins our curator Garrett Dash Nelson on May 27 on Facebook Live (and YouTube Live) at 1pm EST to discuss how data, maps, and narratives shape—and are shaped by—our biases.

Afterwards, take a chance to explore the newly-launched digital exhibition, featuring present-day maps created by Maggie and other cartographers as well as historic objects from our collections: bit.ly/2ziVLLG

05/25/2020

Azimuthal is a funny word that means bearing or direction. Benjamin Edes Harrison very intentionally selected this map projection in 1941 to illustrate his claim that "the entire conflict pivots around the U.S."

You'll notice that the further away you get from the center, the more distortion you see. Take a look at misshapen Australia for example. Edes noted that this projection has little distortion in the northern hemisphere and that it doesn't break up the lands or seas in conflict during WWII.

His little spinning girl helps further imagine the map made with centrifugal force.

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This map is part of our upcoming digital exhibition “Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception” and is used to help explain projections and distortion. Opens online on May 27th: leventhalmap.org/bending-lines

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[Image Description: Projection of the globe with the North Pole at the center and the continents bending around the edges. The second image is of a girl wearing a globe as a skirt demonstrating that as she spins the continents get distorted.]

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Details from: Harrison, Richard Edes, "The World Divided." Fortune Magazine. August 1941. 48-49. Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University.

Although we can’t travel right now, at first glance, this charming pictorial map detail sure makes us want to jump right...
05/24/2020

Although we can’t travel right now, at first glance, this charming pictorial map detail sure makes us want to jump right in our car and take a road trip. A closer look, however, tells a deeper story.

This map is part of our upcoming digital exhibition “Bending Lines,” which focuses on the persuasive power of maps and opens on May 27th. Published by Shell Oil Company in 1948, this pictorial map of the American West is an example of the plethora of maps made to use as advertisements in the twentieth century.

Many oil companies spent considerable effort publishing road maps and motorist’s guides to appear trustworthy and draw in consumers. “Let Shell Help you Travel,” the text proclaims. These maps tend to neglect accuracy and informative detail, and instead are excuses to show off colorful, corporate trademarks and advertise a brand.

Please don’t follow this map on your next road trip, unless you’re going to an imaginary vacationland!

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For more info about Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception, visit bit.ly/2Z6buIp

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[Image Description: Colorful pictorial map of a vacation land showing cars driving and people engaged in various recreational activities.]

Citation: Don Bloodgood, and Shell Touring Service, "Ask Shell!." (1948).

𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴: 𝘔𝘢𝘱𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘋𝘢𝘵𝘢 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘋𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, a free online exhibition, premieres May 27 with a series of l...
05/23/2020

𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴: 𝘔𝘢𝘱𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘋𝘢𝘵𝘢 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘋𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, a free online exhibition, premieres May 27 with a series of live, interactive events. ⁠

Tune in for the first live talk on May 27 at 1PM to participate in a discussion about data mapping and visualizations. Learn More: bit.ly/2ziVLLG

#BendingLines #VirtualTalk #OnlineExhibition #History #Maps

05/22/2020
Boston's Golden Semi-Circle

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to look critically at maps and data, and the objectives of the creator. Is this a simple map of I-95 in Boston, or is there something more that the mapmaker was trying to achieve?

When the Greater Boston Business Magazine published this map, developers were scrambling to buy up land in the suburbs as the Massachusetts economy shifted. The title of the map encapsulates an optimistic view of the development: “Panoramic View of Boston Showing Golden Semicircle.” The Route 128 corridor in suburban Boston is highlighted around the periphery of the city creating this 'golden semi-circle,' and locations of prime industrial parks are highlighted along the highway.

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Coming soon: 𝘽𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨: 𝙈𝙖𝙥𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝘿𝙖𝙩𝙖 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝘿𝙚𝙘𝙚𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 will explore the many ways that maps and visual data have been used for centuries to manipulate information and truth. Opens online on May 27th. ⁠

Want to learn more and join in the conversation? Tune in to our series of live talks, 𝘼𝙣𝙜𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝘽𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨: 𝘾𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨, a series of interactive events hosted by Leventhal Center’s curator Garrett Dash Nelson, and featuring guests who give context to the exhibition's themes and content. ⁠

Learn more about the exhibition and the series of live talks here: bit.ly/2Z6buIp⁠

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[Image description: Map of eastern Massachusetts, focused on a pictorial illustration of Boston. The city is surrounded by a i-95, a highway, highlighted in yellow with industrial parks represented by orange dots.]⁠

Detail from: Greater Boston Business Magazine. "Panoramic view of Boston showing golden semicircle." Map. 1959.

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Greater Boston Business Magazine. "Panoramic view of Boston showing golden semicircle." Map. 1959.

“The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.” - W.E.B. Du Bois This map is the first plate of W. E...
05/21/2020

“The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.” - W.E.B. Du Bois

This map is the first plate of W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Georgia Negro: A Social Study. The study was one of two series of data visualizations that Du Bois created for the American Negro Exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900.

The study places Georgia within the broader context of the transatlantic slave trade and the Black Atlantic world. With this map, Du Bois made a powerful connection joining the descendants of enslaved Africans across the globe who persist despite the lasting inequalities produced by centuries of enslavement and imperial exploitation. Du Bois’s message of African American progress stood in contrast to many of the other exhibitions at the Paris Exposition which celebrated imperialism.

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If you are interested in data visualization and maps like this one, check out our online exhibition when it opens on May 27th. Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception bit.ly/2Z6buIp

On May 27th you can also hear what our curator has to say, and participate in a live conversation at 1pm. Register Now: bit.ly/2Z6buIp

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[Image description: Two hemispheres joined by the Atlantic Ocean with lines indicating the routes of the transatlantic slave trade. The state of Georgia in the United States is marked by a star.]

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Du Bois, W. E. B. The Georgia Negro A social study. France Paris, 1900. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013650420/

05/20/2020
Bending Lines Exhibition Opening

Join us for 𝘼𝙣𝙜𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝘽𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨: 𝘾𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨, streaming on May 27 at 1pm to explore the many ways that maps and visual data are used to manipulate information and truth. Register Now: bit.ly/2Z6buIp

Hosted by Leventhal Center’s curator Garrett Dash Nelson, this interactive series will feature conversations with guests about the upcoming 𝘽𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨: 𝙈𝙖𝙥𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝘿𝙖𝙩𝙖 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝘿𝙚𝙘𝙚𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 exhibition.

On this day in 1925, Malcolm X was born (as Malcolm Little) in Omaha, NE. As a teenager, Malcolm X moved to Roxbury to l...
05/19/2020

On this day in 1925, Malcolm X was born (as Malcolm Little) in Omaha, NE. As a teenager, Malcolm X moved to Roxbury to live with his sister, Ella Little-Collins. Later, he wrote that "No physical move in my life has been more pivotal or profound in its repercussions."

Malcolm X was an integral part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950's and 60's. He traveled the country as an influential spokesperson for and leader within the Nation of Islam, which grew rapidly in part due to his efforts. Malcolm X was one of several important activists at the time who fought white supremacy and advocated for Black empowerment before his assassination in 1965. Today would be his 95th birthday.

72 Dale St. in Roxbury is the only extant home from Malcolm X's childhood. Built in 1874, Little-Collins purchased the house from the bank in 1941 for $4,100. Malcolm X lived there with her, her husband Kenneth Collins, and their son Rodnell for much of the time between the fall of 1941 and the fall of 1944.

The Malcolm X - Ella Little-Collins House was designated a City of Boston landmark in 1998, and in 2016 @bostonarchaeo conducted a dig at the site. Just one house up and across the street is Malcolm X Park, to the upper left in this image. The park is a 19th century green space redesigned by the Olmsteds in 1912 and renamed for Malcolm X in 1980.

To explore the neighborhood that changed Malcolm X and was in turn changed by him, check out this view in Atlascope: bit.ly/2yapFBm

[Image description: On a backdrop of color aerial imagery of a Boston neighborhood, with a park on the left and houses on the right, is a tan circle full of pink and yellow shapes representing buildings. This overlay is showing the area's structures as they were in 1931 and labeling them with the names of homeowners.]

Overlay map: G.W. Bromley & Co. "Atlas of the city of Boston, Roxbury." 1931.
Basemap is satellite data hosted by MassGIS.

Mount St. Helens erupted 40 years ago today, May 18, 1980. The eruption and largest landslide in recorded history result...
05/18/2020

Mount St. Helens erupted 40 years ago today, May 18, 1980. The eruption and largest landslide in recorded history resulted in the deaths of thousands of animals, 57 people, and devastation to the natural landscape for miles.

Believed to be dormant since 1857, the Mount St. Helens Volcano finally became active again in March of 1980. A collection of small earthquakes caused magma in the volcano to collect in a bulge, which eventually gave way to the pressure and exploded on that fateful day.

This map portrays Mt. St. Helens topographically in its pre-erupted form.

[Image description: Beige map with black ink showing the topography of Washington state, with thick red lines separating counties. Near the center of the image is Mt. St. Helens.]

Robert H. Morton and George U. Mayo. "Washington Territory." 1887. bit.ly/2XbtGOt

Happy National Bike Week! Check out this 1898 map of Boston’s Metropolitan Park System, with bicycle routes marked in re...
05/17/2020

Happy National Bike Week! Check out this 1898 map of Boston’s Metropolitan Park System, with bicycle routes marked in red. As two-wheeled bicycles became more popular and widely-available in the late 19th century, routes started popping up across the city.

These bicycle routes also served as a means of exploring the nation’s first regional park system. Sylvester Baxter, the Metropolitan Park Commission’s secretary, advocated bicycling much as he did the use of parks; both promoted the “physical, intellectual, social, and moral health of city-dwelling men and women.”

As the weather improves, we hope you have a chance to get outside and bike (wearing a mask, of course). Enjoy your cycling!

[Image description: Map of greater Boston with red lines representing bike routes extending out, and green spaces marking the parks.]

Geo. H. Walker & Co., and League of American Wheelmen. "Road map of the Boston district showing the metropolitan park system." 1897. collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:8336hc41q

Frederick Law Olmsted said that public parks function as the "lungs of the city." His work as general secretary of the U...
05/16/2020

Frederick Law Olmsted said that public parks function as the "lungs of the city." His work as general secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, while divergent from his career as a landscape architect, brought to the forefront his understanding of the ways that access to fresh air and natural settings are essential to overall public health.

You may be lucky enough to enjoy a nearby park or green space designed by Olmsted, such as the lovely Lynn Woods. Wherever you are finding a peaceful and green space outside right now, tip your hat to Olmsted and his legacy.

[Image description: Aerial view of an illustrated landscape, consisting of green and brown hills interlaced with narrow, winding tan roads and several light blue bodies of water. Many of the landmarks are labeled, including "Lynn Bay" at the top, "Mt. Gilead" on the left, and "Walden Pond Ave" near the bottom.]

Geo. H. Walker & Co. "Lynn Woods." 1904. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:x633fc04p

Do you teach Boston history or contemporary issues in Boston?Do you engage your students in project-based learning conne...
05/15/2020

Do you teach Boston history or contemporary issues in Boston?

Do you engage your students in project-based learning connected to Boston neighborhoods and social justice issues?

Do you currently use maps and/or GIS mapping or would you like to incorporate more maps in your classroom practice?

If you answered “Yes!” join the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center this summer as a teacher fellow.

Deadline extended to June 1st! More information here: bit.ly/3dMTwPn

[Image description: Aerial view of 19th century Boston, with the common on the bottom right and the city unfolding ahead of the viewer towards the harbor, which is bustling with boats. At the top of the image, blue skies meet a watery horizon.]

Aarland, Johann Carl Wilhelm Aarland, and Douai, A. "Ausicht von Boston." 1866. bit.ly/3fRuhgw

On May 14, 1804, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark departed on their expedition of the Louisiana purchase. Data collec...
05/14/2020

On May 14, 1804, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark departed on their expedition of the Louisiana purchase. Data collected from that expedition, as well as those of the explorers Alexander von Humboldt, Alexander Mackenzie, Zebulon Pike, and George Vancouver accumulated in the detailed topographic and hydrological map you see here.

These expeditions also brought back scientific data about indigenous people, natural resources, and landscape to colonizing governments who were seeking to expand their territory into indigenous lands.

To view more of the exhibit America Transformed Part I, where this map was showcased, click here:
https://collections.leventhalmap.org/exhibits/25

[Image description: So yellowed it's almost orange, this map drawn in black depicts North America, focusing on the continental US. Canada and Mexico are both cut off partway.]

Faden, William. "Map of North America from 20 to 80 degrees north latitude." 1820. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:3f463147v

Anyone else kinda just letting their hair do... whatever this is? We're gonna go ahead and guess that this #windhead has...
05/13/2020

Anyone else kinda just letting their hair do... whatever this is? We're gonna go ahead and guess that this #windhead has the privilege to work from home and does NOT have a Zoom meeting today.

Happy #windheadwednesday, everyone! Remember not to blow on people!

🌬️

Link to full map here, in case you want to see this guy and his 3 closest friends social distancing from each other: collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:9s161h99r

[Image description: On a cream background, thin red and tan lines criss cross each other beneath a round navigational device called a shadow square in the center of the image. In the lower right corner is a face with puffed-put cheeks and crazy, Medusa-like hair, blowing a stream of air out of its mouth. In the upper left are three pretty red and blue compass roses.]

Ribero, Diego and Griggs, William. "Carta universal en que se contiene todo lo que del mundo se ha descubierto fasta agora." 1887.

On May 12, 1780 — 240 years ago today — Major General Benjamin Lincoln of the Continental Army surrendered Charleston, S...
05/12/2020

On May 12, 1780 — 240 years ago today — Major General Benjamin Lincoln of the Continental Army surrendered Charleston, South Carolina, to the British after a siege that lasted a month and a half. It was one of the worst American defeats of the Revolutionary War, and opened the way for the British to sweep into the southern colonies.

This plan of the siege was prepared for a 1787 book by Banastre Tarleton, whose "raiders" formed one prong of the British offensive.

This section of the map shows the blockade of Charleston Harbor. The American ships under the command of Abraham Whipple had retreated behind a log "boom," shown here lying across the mouth of the Cooper River.

For more on the Siege of Charleston, see the Wikipedia article that also features another map from the LMEC collections! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Charleston

This map is part of the Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection, now permanently housed at The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

[Image description: Map drawn in black on a cream-colored background, depicting the Charleston harbor and its islands, with little ships illustrated in the water. It is titled "Plan of the Siege of Charlestown" in the bottom right corner.]

Banastre Tarleton, "Plan of the siege of Charlestown in South Carolina," reprint of p. 32 in "A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781, in the Southern Provinces of North America" (1787).

Unleash your inner map monster -- splash around in a puddle today! Doesn't it look like fun?Rain or shine, you can alway...
05/11/2020

Unleash your inner map monster -- splash around in a puddle today! Doesn't it look like fun?

Rain or shine, you can always take a trip by visiting our digital collections. Start with this map: collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:3f462s90h

[Image description: On a creamy beige background, there is a compass rose in primary colors on the left, a small landmass outlined in red in the upper right hand corner labeled "Rode Island," and a sea monster with a turquoise head and red tail frolicking in the water just to the right of center.]

Seller, John, and Hill, Joshua. "A mapp of New England." 1675.

Address

700 Boylston St
Boston, MA
02116

General information

The Leventhal Map Center has a particular interest in developing innovative uses of maps and geographic materials to engage young people’s curiosity about the world, thereby enhancing their understanding of geography, history, world cultures, and citizenship.

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 19:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 19:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 19:00
Thursday 10:00 - 19:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(617) 859-2387

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All you map lovers out there.....if you have not visited this site you are missing out. Pretty amazing. Pick your town/city and zoom in.....enjoy!