Children’s School Maps
Does anyone remember drawing maps for school? I remember drawing maps in the 5th grade. We were studying the states, and as I recall, had to draw a map of each state and include their most productive industries, like timber or coal.
My sister insists that I also would have been required to take World History or World Geography, whatever it was called, and draw maps. She remembers drawing South America and Africa. I, however, have no recollection of that. I maintain that I didn’t take it, but it may have been like gym class my Senior year, that was so awful that I completely blanked it out of my memory. I had nightmares my whole first year of college that I hadn’t completed gym class, because I can’t remember it, and they were going to call and say my diploma wasn’t valid.
Regardless, children’s school maps have been part of education in the United States for some time. There were even map text books. Some examples from David Rumsey’s Map Collection:
And this is what some of the maps looked like:
There were even celestial maps:
As far back as 1719, a man named Johann Baptist Homann from Nuremberg, Germany, created a teaching atlas called Atlas Methodicus. Back then, California was thought to be an island off the cost of North America.
William Faden published Geographical Exercises in 1777, where students could copy maps onto blanks.
In 1885, the Drawing Teacher was published that contained stencil maps for use in learning to draw maps.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, children learned geography by drawing their own maps, usually copying from a map. They were hand-drawn and colored and some of these amazing maps have survived on a David Rumsey Map Collection page.
I found these maps drawn by children amazing. It’s surprising that they have survived this long. I know my 5th grade maps were nowhere near as sophisticated and beautiful. I’m glad they won’t be surviving for 50 or 100 years.
Did anyone else learn about geography by drawing maps? What were your experiences?