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

For our last post of the year, we're offering up a little self-reflection. This set of four maps was created in 2020 for...
12/31/2020

For our last post of the year, we're offering up a little self-reflection. This set of four maps was created in 2020 for our Maptivists initiative where we teach BPS high school students how maps can empower them to tell stories. Cartographer Daniel Huffman created these maps of Boston using American Community Survey data.

The top two maps, showing change in white population and median housing value, in Boston help students visualize gentrification. The two showing free wi-fi hotspots and connectivity (or lack thereof) were created to challenge students to see how one data set can be visualized in two different ways. This can help us be better critical thinkers whenever we look at maps.

Best wishes to you and yours in 2021!

[Image description: A block of four maps of Boston. Clockwise from upper left corner: Change in White Population 2010-2018, Change in Median Housing Value 2010-2018, Disconnected, Plenty of Free wi-fi.]

Seen any maps in the news lately? We bet you have! One goal of our current exhibition, Bending Lines, is to help you mak...
12/30/2020

Seen any maps in the news lately? We bet you have! One goal of our current exhibition, Bending Lines, is to help you make sense of the maps that appear in the media. Although the number of maps produced every day has exploded with the rise of television and social media, older forms of publication also churned out maps at a formidable pace, using them to tell people about far-off wars or newsworthy phenomena at home...

Read more and learn about this particular piece on our (still pretty new!) website! https://www.leventhalmap.org/articles/newsmaps/

[Image description: a map of the world unfurling from around a globe. The southern landmasses are falling off the map, while many cities and some countries in the northern hemisphere are circled in green. On the green background, the title of the map is US ROLE IN WORLD AFFAIRS. In the bottom right, it says NEWSMAP.]

Welcome to 1920, and flat earth! Flat Earth theory is a disproven idea that the Earth is a flat disc. The earliest menti...
12/30/2020

Welcome to 1920, and flat earth! Flat Earth theory is a disproven idea that the Earth is a flat disc. The earliest mention of the Earth as a sphere was in 5th century BC in Greece, and by 3rd century BC it was commonly known fact.

The circumference of the spherical Earth was first calculated by Greek polymath Eratosthenes in 3rd century BC, based on the distance between 2 cities and the angle of sunlight. His exact method has been lost, but a simplified method was popularized by Greek astronomer Cleomedes around 4th century BC. Cleomedes calculated the circumference as 39,375 km, 701 km less than the actual circumference of 40,076 km.

While the Earth has been known to be a sphere since 3rd century BC, and there are multiple observations that prove the Earth is round, flat-Earthers believe and promote the idea that the Earth is flat.

This map, published in 1920 by John Abizaid, illustrates his idea of a flat, stationary Earth. Abizaid claimed that if the Earth was moving, people would feel it, and if the Earth was round, people would fall off.

In Abizaid's model, the Earth is divided into 5 zones, with the North Pole at the center. The 5th zone, which he called the South Circle, is dark and icy. This zone prevents people from crossing and falling off of the edge of the Earth. The sun, moon and stars all move above the Earth.

The map and explanation on the back are in English and Arabic. Abizaid was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the U.S. in 1889. He published a book about flat Earth theory in Arabic, which he then translated to English in 1912.

Modern flat Earthism was first promoted by English inventor and writer Samuel Rowbotham in 1849. His idea of the Earth as a flat disc centered on the North Pole, bounded on the edge by a wall of ice, is the most common flat Earth model. He founded the Zetetic Society, which after his death was succeeded by the Universal Zetetic Society. Abizaid was a president of the Universal Zetetic Society, which is now the Flat Earth Society.

[Image descriptions: First image is a circular diagram of the Earth, split into 5 concentric rings colored black, white, and red, with labels in English and Arabic. The second image is the back of the map, with a portrait of Abizaid and explanation in English and Arabic. The third image is an excerpt from a newspaper article with a picture of Abizaid holding his map.]

John G. Abizaid. "New correct map of the flat surface, stationary earth." (1920). https://bit.ly/3hoSX15

"Lunar eclipse actually once each month." The Boston Globe, 25 July 1935, 9.

#FlatEarthMap #SphericalEarth #RoundEarth #EarthIsRound #EarthIsNotFlat

Today's 20's map is an 1820 view comparing the height of the world’s mountains! It was created by Hazen Morse, who was b...
12/29/2020

Today's 20's map is an 1820 view comparing the height of the world’s mountains! It was created by Hazen Morse, who was born in Haverhill MA, and worked as a silversmith and engraver in Boston.

The chart cites Alexander Humboldt’s foundational 1807 "Essay on the Geography of Plants" as the main source for the mountain measurements. Humboldt, an explorer and scientist considered as influential as Charles Darwin, was a colorful character. An anti-slavery advocate, legend has it that when traversing the Quindiu Pass in Colombia, Humboldt refused to ride on a sillero, a man saddled with a chair. Instead, he walked.

Check out the second image: if you zoom tightly into the upper left corner of the chart, you can spy a tiny figure hiking the slope of the Andes’ Chimborazo, the highest peak in the Western hemisphere, gazing out at the collection of mountains.

Come back tomorrow to check out our 1920 map!

[Image 1: An illustration in blue, gray and black, of mountain peaks, shorter ones in the foreground and larger ones at the sides in the background, some with volcanic smoke coming out from their tops. The margins contain information about the chart, including a numbered key to the peaks giving their height in feet. Image 2 is a very close up view of the upper left hand corner of the chart, and shows a tiny figure in profile high on the mountain slope looking out over the scene.]

Morse, Hazen, and Cummings and Hilliard. "Comparative view of the heights of the principal mountains &c. in the world." 1820. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:x059cd818

On the third day of our roaring 20’s series, here's a detail from a 1720 map (or thereabouts).The title in the legend (n...
12/28/2020

On the third day of our roaring 20’s series, here's a detail from a 1720 map (or thereabouts).

The title in the legend (not shown) encapsulates the colonial attitude of the time: “A map of the East-Indies and the adjacent countries, with the settlements, factories and territories, explaning [sic] what belongs to England, Spain, France, Holland, Denmark, Portugal &c. with many remarks not extant in any other map… To ye Directors of ye Hon’ble United East-India Company. This Map is most Humbly Dedicated by your most Obedient Servant Herman Moll, Geographer.” The stated purpose of the map is to explain which countries own which pieces of land.

Notes on various countries call out their attractive riches, like the text here by the Philippines: “The General Product of the Islands is vast Quantities of Ambergreace [sic], Gold, Rice, the usual Indian Fruits, the Sagu and Cabbage Trees, and all the Beasts, Fowl, Fish, and Insects, common to the Indian Islands.” This way of seeing land for its productive qualities is typical of colonialist mapping.

See you tomorrow with an 1820 map!

[Image description: This zoomed in map detail shows islands of the Philippines outlined in dark ink on beige paper, with place names and descriptions.]

Moll, Herman, d. 1732, King, John, and Bowles, John. 1720. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:cj82ks67n

Next up in our 2020 countdown of maps through the centuries is this 1620 portolan! The term is from the Italian portulan...
12/27/2020

Next up in our 2020 countdown of maps through the centuries is this 1620 portolan! The term is from the Italian portulano and it's easy to see, as you look at the multitude of place names along the coasts, that these charts are all about navigating to ports or harbors. The mapmaker has featured his name, Augustin Roussin, with a large fancy initial “A.”

He notes that he made this map in in the city of Marseilles, and if you zoom into the full map (link in citation!) you'll see the hillside buildings and towers of the city depicted in an inset that is on a much larger scale than the rest of the map, with a deep blue harbor prominently featured.

Look for a 1720 map tomorrow!

[Image description: A red and yellow floral border is along the top and right sides. The coastal outlines of Spain and southern France are faintly drawn, crowded with many port names. In the middle is a fanciful drawing of a city with buildings topped with red and blue roofs, and a blue harbor.]

Roussin, Augustin. "Portolan atlas." 1620. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:q524n163k

We're counting down the final days of this year with maps of the 20's! Today's map is from 1520, tomorrow’s will be from...
12/26/2020

We're counting down the final days of this year with maps of the 20's! Today's map is from 1520, tomorrow’s will be from 1620, and so on until 2020 on New Year's Eve!

Petrus Apianus made this map. He was highly regarded in his day as a mathematician, cartographer, and author of a book on astronomy. This was the second known map to adopt the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller's term "America." The continent’s new name is inscribed on the landmass, along with a credit to Columbus for "finding" an island in the year 1497.

[Image description: Black ink on gray background, a bulbous heart-shaped map, surrounded by indications of climate zones and illustrations of heads blowing wind. Africa is the biggest mass in the middle, and a vertically elongated north and south America is on the left.]

Peter Apian. "Tipus orbis uniuersalis iuxta Ptolomei cosmographi traditionem et Americi Vespucii alior[um]que." 1520. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:3f462s24x

Did you know that Jingle Bells was likely written in Massachusetts? Although some debate this fact, a plaque in Medford,...
12/23/2020

Did you know that Jingle Bells was likely written in Massachusetts? Although some debate this fact, a plaque in Medford, Massachusetts claims that James Lord Pierpont wrote the tune while drinking in the Simpson Tavern on High Street in 1850. The song was originally called “The One Horse Open Sleigh” and was copyrighted in 1857 by Pierpont.

Pierpont is said to have drawn his inspiration for the song while watching sleigh races on Salem Street, Medford. This 1880 bird's-eye view map of Medford shows High Street, on the left, and Salem Street, on the right, with the town square in the middle.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Stay safe and jolly.

[Image description: Black and white bird's-eye view map of Medford. A town square sits in the middle with four labeled streets that intersect it. Houses, buildings, and trees line the streets, and as well as a big church with a steeple.]

Charles H. Brainard, Medford, Massachusetts: 1880, (O.H. Bailey & Co., 1888). https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:x633ff46m

This detail from John Seller's late 17th century "Novissima totius terrarum orbis tabula" speaks to us on the event of t...
12/21/2020

This detail from John Seller's late 17th century "Novissima totius terrarum orbis tabula" speaks to us on the event of the northern hemisphere's winter solstice. If you live near the Map Center, today your shadow at noon is the longest it will be all year as the tilt of the earth places us at a low angle in relation to the sun.

Today we have the shortest day, and Old Man Winter, warming his hands over the fire, dreams of gradually increasing light and the approach of spring. We have turned the corner and from now until June 20, 2021, our days will get incrementally longer as the light returns. May your dreams of spring bring you cheer. Happy Solstice!

[Image description: An illustrated image. A bearded person in a red coat sits in a chair, leaning forward to hold their hands over a fire, from which smoke billows up. A cat is on the ground next to them.]

John Seller, "Novissima totius terrarum orbis tabula," in John Seller, Atlas maritimus, or A book of charts (ca. 1672) https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:st74cx36k

In this season of giving and thanks, we’re thankful for YOU – our followers, gallery patrons, supporters, and friends, w...
12/19/2020

In this season of giving and thanks, we’re thankful for YOU – our followers, gallery patrons, supporters, and friends, who inspire us to continue the work we do. In this time of gratitude, we hope you will consider giving back to us, as well. If you like the work we do, please consider making a donation to our Annual Fund.

Gifts to the Annual Fund support all our work, including exhibitions, talks, research, the collection, educational outreach, tools like Atlascope, and, yes, even enable us to create fun and in-depth social media posts! Our exhibitions, public programs, and services to the Boston Public Schools are offered completely free of charge, but they are not free to produce. We greatly appreciate any support you can give.

You can make a donation on our website at: www.leventhalmap.org/donate. Every contribution counts! We wish you a safe and happy New Year.

12/15/2020
Boston By Map

Join the Leventhal Map and Education Center for a virtual session on historical geography! Bring your lunch, map questions, and enthusiasm.

Do you make a wish when you see a shooting star? If so, this month is abundant with them in the form of the Geminids met...
12/15/2020

Do you make a wish when you see a shooting star? If so, this month is abundant with them in the form of the Geminids meteor shower! @nasa says this is one of the best of 2020 and will continue until December 17. This event is called the Geminids since the meteors appear to radiate out of the Gemini constellation (the twins).

What you are seeing is actually the earth's orbit sweeping through the debris field of asteroid 3200 Phaethon! Viewing this year has been particularly good because the timing coincides with the new moon and darker skies. Hoping all your wishes come true!

[Image description: An image of the Gemini twin babies embracing one another and surrounded by celestial light. To the left is Taurus, the bull, and below cupid dropping rose petals. From a 1672 map by John Seller.]⁠

John Seller. "Novissima totius terrarum orbis tabula." 1672. https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:st74cx36k

12/14/2020
Boston By Map

Join the Leventhal Map and Education Center for a virtual session on historical geography! Bring your lunch, map questions, and enthusiasm.

Have a GIS or data reference question? Come to our drop-in office hours! Fridays (like tomorrow!) at 11, our GIS librari...
12/10/2020

Have a GIS or data reference question? Come to our drop-in office hours! Fridays (like tomorrow!) at 11, our GIS librarian will be on Zoom to answer any and all of your q's. It's just like coming to the reference desk, but from the comfort of your own computer.

Zoom link & password at https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/events/5fd0df75c6979286093f012d

To learn more about the types of projects the research team can support and to find links to online tutorials and guides, visit our geospatial research page on our website: https://www.leventhalmap.org/research/geospatial/. You can always make one-on-one reference appointments, but come say hi tomorrow!

[Image description: A cartoon-y black and white illustration of a smiling person with a bun on top of their head, sitting behind a computer.]

Join the LMEC for a virtual session on historical geography, Tuesday, 12/15 at noon, ET! Bring your lunch, map questions...
12/09/2020

Join the LMEC for a virtual session on historical geography, Tuesday, 12/15 at noon, ET! Bring your lunch, map questions, and enthusiasm.

More info and registration here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boston-by-map-tickets-132168935845

[Image description: In the top left corner is a title, The Town of Boston in New England by Capt. John Bonner, 1722. The rest of the square, beige image is taken up by an old illustrated map of Boston including the common and Boston neck.]

#BostonEvents #HistoricalGeography #GISChat #GIS #Geography #GeographyTeacher #History #HistoryTeacher #Genealogy

Happy #MapMonsterMonday! This monster has woken up refreshed from a restful weekend of basking in the tropical sun. Here...
12/07/2020

Happy #MapMonsterMonday! This monster has woken up refreshed from a restful weekend of basking in the tropical sun. Here in New England, we're pretty envious!

Wishing you some big, toothy smiles,
The Leventhal Map & Education Center 💛

[Image description: A black and white illustration of a dragon-like sea monster on a map, lifting its head above the water and grinning.]

"The Nancy globe." 1914. Full map at https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:7h149v56h (more monsters!)

12/01/2020
North End By Map

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

11/30/2020
North End By Map

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

The last day of the #30DayMapChallenge simply asks us to post "a map." We've chosen this one by a young cartographer nam...
11/30/2020

The last day of the #30DayMapChallenge simply asks us to post "a map." We've chosen this one by a young cartographer named Sebastian! This is his map of the volcanic Palm Tree Island, where humans and dinosaurs cohabitate. Check out the second image for his object description!

Why does Sebastian like maps?

"I like maps because they show you places: places that you can dream of visiting, places you miss, places you’ve been before. I like aerial views and topographical maps because I can see things different ways. I like old maps with wiggly lines and sea creatures. I like maps that show people data, like country borders and cultural groups. I just love maps. Lately, I have been studying the map at the Arboretum and the Island of Sodor."

At the Leventhal Map and Education Center, we believe it's never too early to start encouraging this kind of geographic thinking! Check out the K-12 education section of our brand new website here: https://www.leventhalmap.org/education/k12/ for remote lessons, teaching it yourself, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

Thanks for sticking with us for all 30 days of the challenge! Stay tuned to this channel, as always, for more mappy content.

[Image description: The first image is an illustrated map with a compass rose, scale, and legend drawn by a child using vibrant greens, blues, browns, and red. It is titled "Palm Tree Island." The second image is a handwritten statement on a piece of paper torn out of a notebook. It starts out in a child's handwriting, and then the bottom half is written more neatly and regularly.]

Address

700 Boylston St
Boston, MA
02116

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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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Comments

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!