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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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.

Operating as usual

On this day in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte disembarked on the island of St. Helena to live out the remainder of his life in...
10/15/2020

On this day in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte disembarked on the island of St. Helena to live out the remainder of his life in exile. Napoleon had been exiled just a year before on the less remote (and relatively more bustling) Mediterranean island of Elba. The British shipped Napoleon off to St. Helena after his escape from Elba and brief restoration to power in France, a period called the 100 days.

The French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo sealed Napoleon's fate and he surrendered to the British in July 1815. Napoleon's final years on the damp island were mostly dreary and dull, a state familiar to anyone who has recently been in quarantine lockdown. But he did study English, dictate his memoirs, and write a book on Julius Caesar. He died on St. Helena in 1821 and was buried there until his remains were triumphantly returned to France in 1840.

[Image description: Detail is from a colorful pictorial world map. The central image is labeled St. Helena and shows Napoleon standing on the island in a purple coat with his back to the viewer looking out to sea.]

Ernest Dudley Chase, and Houghton Mifflin Company. "Mercator map of the world." 1931. bit.ly/2SRBvHe

Wondering what to do with your evening on 10/26, or why the Philippines are on this map of the US? For a brief period of...
10/14/2020

Wondering what to do with your evening on 10/26, or why the Philippines are on this map of the US? For a brief period of time immediately following the Spanish-American War, it became common for national maps of the United States to include the recently-acquired imperial territories all across the globe, from the Philippines to the Panama Canal Zone. This 1918 "general railway map," published by the National Railway Publication Co., was just one of the many maps from this time which presented the United States as a vast, multi-hemispheric constellation of mainland and islands.

Although the Philippines would remain a colonial possession until 1946, and places like Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Wake Island are under U.S. sovereignty even today, these places are very often left off the map. This story—how the United States obscured its imperial possessions—is the topic of our October 26 virtual discussion with the historian Daniel Immerwahr.

Immerwahr's award-winning book "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States" examines the US from the places and people that are missing from the familiar outline of the 48 conterminous states. By examining questions of race, geography, citizenship, military power, and global diplomacy, Immerwahr describes how the country has grappled with its own status as a world empire.

This remote talk is presented together with the BPL, the Lowell Institute, and GBH Forum Network. See https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/events/5f341f7c7c571d2400f578be for more details and to register.

"General railway map engraved expressly for the Official guide of the railways and steam navigation lines of the United States, Porto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Cuba ..." (New York: National Railway Publication Co., 1918). bit.ly/34TbbC6

[Image description: The lower left corner of a map of the United States, showing inset maps of Alaska, the Philippines Islands, and several other Pacific islands that were part of U.S. territory.]

In Boston and other cities and states across the US, today is still called Columbus Day. Another way today is observed i...
10/12/2020

In Boston and other cities and states across the US, today is still called Columbus Day. Another way today is observed is as Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to celebrate of the wealth of indigenous culture that still exists in the Americas and around the world, and to mourn what has been destroyed by colonialism and imperialism.

This detail from a triptych map of the world shows Christopher Columbus as a romantic, conquering figure, riding a sea monster across the Atlantic. Columbus was an agent of genocide, who did not discover a new world, the way a caption on this map states. He arrived in a place that already existed for the tens of millions of Indigenous people who lived in the western hemisphere long before the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María made their way over the horizon.

In this image, Columbus takes up the entire span of the Atlantic between Spain and the Caribbean. The front hooves of his mount are precisely where the islands on which he originally landed should be. These lands and waters are the traditional home of the Taíno. The way this medallion represents Columbus trampling the islands is symbolically accurate. However, descendants of the Taíno remain on their ancestral lands in spite of the violent dispossession and genocide which has taken place at the hands of white European and Euro-American settler populations.

Colonialism is not just the moment of contact between colonizers and Indigenous populations, it is an ongoing process that people, governments, and institutions participate in every day. This map is a historical document, and like all maps, produced to push a particular agenda. Check out our online exhibit #BendingLines for more on how all maps, not just 17th century ones, try to convince us. Full map at bit.ly/3jP7iEo.

[Image description: An oval frame with a small illustration inside it of Christopher Columbus riding a half-horse, half-fish creature. He is holding a large trident with a banner attached to the top, and his steed fills the entire Atlantic Ocean, with Cuba right in front of him and Hispania behind.]

#IndigenousPeoplesDay #ColumbusDay #NdnsEverywhere #NIPD #CanadianThanksgiving #MapMonsterMonday

Today's the final day of #FirePreventionWeek, and also the anniversary of the last day of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871...
10/10/2020

Today's the final day of #FirePreventionWeek, and also the anniversary of the last day of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This guide map, dated just the day after the fire on October 11th, superimposes the burned area over the gridded street pattern. The fire started southwest of the city center and burned over 2,000 acres, noted by the shaded red area. A strong southwest wind, wooden structures, and summer drought fueled the flames that left approximately 100,000 people homeless.

Though legend suggests that a cow caused the flames by knocking over a lantern, the real cause is unknown. The biggest cause of home fires is cooking, so remember to practice good fire safety in the kitchen this week and every other!

[Image description: A black and white map of Chicago with a pale red section along the lake shaded in. It is titled "Guide Map of Chicago."]

Clay, Cosack & Co. "Guide map of Chicago, October 11th, 1871." 1871. Full map at bit.ly/3lrASAu

Halloween is right around the corner! While it may be a little bit different this October, Massachusetts’s residents kno...
10/09/2020

Halloween is right around the corner! While it may be a little bit different this October, Massachusetts’s residents know that Salem is usually the place to be this time of year. Check out some of the town’s famous, spooky sites labeled on this circa 1905 map from our collections!

This image points out the Witch House (right near the public library!), but you can also find the House of the Seven Gables, numerous cemeteries, and the site of the 1692 jail where accused witches were held. See the full map here: bit.ly/3lr4pKn

🧹🔮🎃

[Image description: Detail is from a white and black map of Salem, Massachusetts. Two parallel streets run across the square, labeled Federal Street and Essex Street. In between, there are two sites marked as “Public Library”, on the left, and “Witch House” to the right of it.]

Sidney Perley, Map of Salem, Mass. 1905.

10/08/2020

If you missed our South End By Map community history night last night with the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library, no worries! It's recorded and lives on our Facebook and YouTube pages in perpetuity. Here it is on Facebook: bit.ly/3nsQZzn

The Cyclorama, pictured here in 1885, was a large dome built at 543-7 Tremont St. to house a giant painting of the Battle of Gettysburg, and hosted many exhibitions and events over the years between 1884 and 1898. It was eventually purchased by the Boston Flower Exchange, shown here in 1938, after being used as an industrial building and a garage for a couple of decades. It was used as a flower market until 1970. Today, it belongs to the Boston Center for the Arts.

[Video description: A six-second video which starts with an old beige map showing a pink building footprint labeled “Cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburg.” The building is round with small extensions in the front and back. A circle draws inward, obscuring the map and instead showing a map where the building is now a salmon-y color and has been absorbed into a larger rectangular building. It is labeled “Boston Flower Exchange.” The circle vanishes into a point at the center, and then opens back up again to show the original map.]

10/07/2020
South End By Map

Join the Leventhal Map & Education Center and the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library as we explore history through maps.

Today is #WindheadWednesday, COVID-19 edition. Remember to mask up, like the windhead on the right, and not to blow part...
10/07/2020

Today is #WindheadWednesday, COVID-19 edition. Remember to mask up, like the windhead on the right, and not to blow particles all over the globe like the one on the left!

[Image description: A colorful, stylized pictorial map of the world, with the middle missing so it only shows Alaska and the west coast on the left, and the easternmost parts of Russia on the left. In the top corners are two heads shown in profile, facing each other. The left one has its mouth open, blowing wind all over the hemisphere, and the right one is wearing a blue mask over the lower half of its face.]

Ernest Dudley Chase and Houghton Mifflin Company. "Mercator map of the world." 1931. Full, maskless map at bit.ly/3jHrnfW

10/06/2020

Join the Leventhal Map & Education Center and the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library as we explore history through maps.

October 5th, 1877 marked the end of the war between the Nez Perce and the U.S. government. Today's post is excerpted fro...
10/05/2020

October 5th, 1877 marked the end of the war between the Nez Perce and the U.S. government. Today's post is excerpted from a lesson created for the Map Center by cartographer Margaret Pearce and Nez Perce Cultural Resources Program Director Nakia Williamson.

The traditional homelands of the Nez Perce Nation, or Nimiipuu in their language, include a large swath of what is now Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Nimiipuu people have lived in these lands for over 16,000 years. In the Treaty of 1855, they were forced to cede a majority of these lands to the United States, while reserving rights to a large land area at the heart of their homeland, including the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. But in 1860, gold was discovered within the boundaries of that reservation, in Pierce, Idaho.

To obtain that land and other potential mining sites for white Euro-Americans, a second treaty was forced on Nez Perce people in 1863, reducing their lands from about 20 million acres to 770,000 acres. Many Nez Perce refused to acknowledge this "thief" treaty as legal, and continued to live on the lands they had negotiated for in 1855.

Then, in 1877, President Ulysses S. Grant decided to force Nez Perce people to move to the smaller reservation and open up the rest of their territory to gold prospecting by white settlers. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard and his soldiers were sent to evict the Nez Perce people from their homes, giving them 30 days to travel to a new, smaller reservation in Idaho by horse. Just as the people were preparing for the journey, a skirmish broke out, and what had begun as a march now turned into a series of battles on the move over a 1,170-mile distance.

Eventually, the Nez Perce turned north in hopes of crossing into Canada before the Army caught up. Forty miles from that border, Colonel Nelson Miles cut them off in the Bear Paw Mountains at a place called C’Aynnim ‘Alikinwaaspa, "Place of the Manure Fire," where they fought each other for a week. About 200 Nez Perce people made it across the border during that fight. Those who remained with Young Joseph (Chief Joseph as he is known today) negotiated a surrender with Miles.

The first image is a detail from a map in our collection drawn by Robert H. Fletcher, a soldier in the U.S. Army, and shows the location of the final battle of the Nez Perce War in the Bear Paw Mountains. The full map documents the war from a U.S. military perspective. The second map detail is from a map drawn by Nez Perce soldier Peo-Peo Tholekt showing a camp at the Battle of Big Hole. The full map documents important moments in that battle, including the capture and dismantling of a howitzer by Nez Perce fighters. This map can be found in the digital archives at Washington State University, the McWhorter Collection: bit.ly/33lIWMU

Fletcher map: bit.ly/33nhuhA

[Image description: Image 1 is a beige map with black ink showing rivers and some topography, as well as important sites. The most prominent of these is "Scene of Joseph's Surrender Bat. of Bear Paw Mt. Sep 30 to Oct 5." Image 2 is a map of a campsite with five-sided tent shapes colorfully shaded and outlined.]

On October 3rd, he asked me what day it was. "It's October 3rd."These lines by Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) about her crus...
10/03/2020

On October 3rd, he asked me what day it was. "It's October 3rd."

These lines by Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) about her crush, Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett) created today's holiday – Mean Girls Day.

Another classic scene from the 2004 movie is the one in which Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) draws out a map for her new friend to navigate the school cafeteria. What would your school look like if you mapped it?? Try your hand at drawing it, and tag us in your post!

[Image description: A hand holding a paper map, which takes up most of the field of view. There is a map of a high school's grounds, with a focus on the left half of the image on the school cafeteria room. Each table is marked with a descriptor of a clique: Varsity Jocks, Plastics, ROTC, and Burnouts, for example.]

Mark your calendars for South End By Map, 10/7 at 7pm EDT!  In the nineteenth century, what was on the land where the So...
10/02/2020

Mark your calendars for South End By Map, 10/7 at 7pm EDT! In the nineteenth century, what was on the land where the South End Branch Library now sits? What kinds of businesses filled the area? Who lived in the neighborhood? Using Atlascope, the Leventhal Map & Education Center’s user-friendly portal for exploring urban atlases, we’ll dive into the historical geography of the South End.

Come learn about how the community has changed over time, and discover how to research the history of your own house and neighborhood.

This event will be broadcast online at the Leventhal Map Center’s YouTube Live and Facebook Live channels. Registration optional at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/south-end-by-map-tickets-122303102873?aff=erelexpmlt

[Image description: A colorful map of a city block labeled with the functions of buildings, the main one being "Grover Baker's Sewing Machine Factory" which is green and outlined in pink.]

It's beginning to look a lot like fall! It's October, the trees are turning, and these ladies keep showing up with horns...
10/01/2020

It's beginning to look a lot like fall! It's October, the trees are turning, and these ladies keep showing up with horns of plenty. A cornucopia, a ram's horn or a horn-shaped basket overflowing with autumn goodness is a classical symbol of the harvest.

Lots of fall festivals celebrate agricultural prosperity as part of their significance. These include the Mid-Autumn festival today, Sukkot, which starts tomorrow, Erntedankfest this coming weekend, and American Thanksgiving, which has traditionally been celebrated sometime between October and December.

Tag yourself—we're sitting on the barrel, draped in grapes.

[Image description: The square is divided up into four smaller squares. All four show a person holding a cornucopia full of fruit, wheat, and other agricultural symbols of plenty. Each is drawn in a slightly different design, including one in black and white in the lower left, and one with other characters surrounding the figure with the basket in the upper right. One of these is a person holding a wine glass and wearing nothing but grapes.]

Isn't this a beautiful texture? 😍 It makes us feel like we're on the ocean! This detail is from a map showing the east c...
09/30/2020

Isn't this a beautiful texture? 😍 It makes us feel like we're on the ocean! This detail is from a map showing the east coast from what is now the Carolinas up to New England.

Check out the full map at bit.ly/2RUhsYc! If you're familiar with coastal geography of the region, you may be a little surprised by how it looks... 👀 Let us know your reactions in the comments!

[Image description: Most of the square image is taken up by undulating short lines that hypnotically create the illusion of moving water. On the right is half a compass rose, and on the left are a couple of islands labeled Hatorask and Paquiwock in beautiful script.]

Corneille Wytfliet. "Norumbega et Virginia." 1597.

Wake up! ☕ It's International Coffee Day! Whether you call it java, kaffe, cà phê, kopi or kahawa, so many of us rely on...
09/29/2020

Wake up! ☕ It's International Coffee Day! Whether you call it java, kaffe, cà phê, kopi or kahawa, so many of us rely on a cup of joe (or 3) to get up and moving.

While Brazil is the world's top coffee producer, with around 40% of global supply, coffee plants originated in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia. From there, the first coffee plantations were established in Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th century. The Turkish conquests of the Arabian Peninsula spread coffee and coffee houses throughout the Ottoman Empire and Muslim world and, starting in the 17th century, into Christian Europe. Even little Boston had a coffee house by 1676.

Time for a coffee break!

[Image Description: A selection of a map with yellow for land and blue for water shows southern Brazil with images of people picking and drying coffee beans. An arrow on the map indicates that Santos, São Paulo is the world's largest coffee port.]

Ernest Dudley Chase. "The good neighbor pictorial map of South America." 1942. See the full map at bit.ly/2G7q3E2!

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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.

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Center is closed now.
Really enjoying Bending Lines. Is there any chance it will become a physical book? Be very useful for educators
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!