Section Five: Schoolgirl Maps of the United States


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Following the war of 1812, many maps drawn by schoolgirls and schoolboys shifted in subject matter from maps of the world to maps of the United States, partly due to renewed patriotism after America’s second war of independence. These four examples represent a range of depictions of the expanding United States between 1814 and 1830. In 1814, there were eighteen states, and by 1830, there were twenty-four.

Emily Hill constructed her huge manuscript map from six linked sheets of paper. Both the size and scope of the map, as well as the exquisitely rendered compass rose and cartouche, make this example a bit of an outlier in the genre. The map is derived from Osgood Carleton’s 1806 Map of the United States. Interestingly, it has misspellings: look for one in New England, and another near New York City. The map is decorated with a floral wreath design similar to those used by Vermont schoolgirl Catherine Cook in her penmanship book located in the center case.

Mary Hall’s “Map of the northern part of the United States and the southern part of the Canadas,” was made circa 1814 when Hall was a sixteen year old schoolgirl in Alfred, Maine. Hall’s depiction of the United States as part of the larger continent of North America was not unusual for someone living in the District of Maine, who would have been familiar with the Canadian maritimes.

The influence of the popular manual An Introduction to the Art of Penmanship, published by Eleazer Huntington in Hartford, Connecticut, is everywhere evident in Eliza Elvira Whiting’s 1826 map. She has utilized the “Roman print” and the more decorative “German text” fonts from Huntington’s manual throughout her composition. Penmanship was clearly a big part of her mapping endeavor, especially considering her decision to ink out a series of hundreds of fine lines to represent the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.

As Susan Schulten notes, “Creating a national map was a demonstration of civic pride, and a statement of national coherence, even a way for students to connect with fellow Americans they would never meet.” The fashioning of maps of the United States in pen, ink, and watercolor, helped locate these young women as part of the growing Republic, even if their participation in civic life was limited by their gender.


Emily Hill
A Map of the United States of America, 1820
Osher Sheet Map Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/2398

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Mary Lucy Hall
Map of the northern part of the United States and the southern part of the Canadas, ca. 1814
Osher Sheet Map Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/926

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Margaret Taft
United States, 1830
Osher Map Library Sheet Map Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/45538

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Eliza Elvira Whiting
Map of the United States, 1826
Osher Map Library Sheet Map Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/50286

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