1949 John Sparks Infographic Chart or Histomap of Evolution

The Histomap of Evolution Earth, Life and Mankind for Ten Thousand Million Years. - Main View

1949 John Sparks Infographic Chart or Histomap of Evolution


'10,000 Million Years.'


The Histomap of Evolution Earth, Life and Mankind for Ten Thousand Million Years.
  1949 (dated)     58 x 21.5 in (147.32 x 54.61 cm)


A real oddity, this is a colorful 1949 John B. Sparks infographic chart or 'histomap' of evolution. Tracing 'ten thousand million years' of history, the chart begins 'ten thousand million' years ago and follows the development of life on Earth. Coverage extends roughly from the creation of the 'Origin of the Earth' to the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and the 'Spread of Communism'. All editions then push speculatively into the 'future' as far as 1990.
A Closer Look
The large central portion, with its curvy lines, employs seven colors and starts with the emergence of protozoa and other unicellular organisms and ends with a popular pseudoscience of the 1930s and 1940s: conflating nationality with race. The chart includes Germans, French, British, Slavs, Russians, Americans, Chinese, and Japanese. The different eras and periods in Earth's history, the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic Eras, are included along both the right and left sides. The shorter periods, such as the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, are identified with short summaries of what occurred during each. The right side traces the emergence of life and how it developed during each period, while on the left geological, cultural, and historical events are noted.
A Short History of the Chart
Overflowing with information, Sparks spent fourteen years working on the Histomap of Evolution. A bacteriologist and chemical engineer, an interview with Sparks appeared in the Plainfield, New Jersey Courier-News on October 13, 1932, shortly after the first edition of the Histomap. Sparks originally did not want to have the Histomap published, so why it ended up in publication is not made clear. Per the article, the Histomap gave renewed fervor to the debate over evolution, a topic known for its controversy (see the Scopes Monkey Trial).
Sparks' Own Comments About the Chart
Sparks is quoted at length in the article in the Courier-News. We believe that his language sheds light on the world in which this chart was created and may have some relevance today. Evolution has not lost any of its controversy in the last ninety years, and Sparks' comments ring true even now.
I regret to hear that the Histomap has aroused the evolution controversy again, as the present conflict is not between science and fundamentalism, but between behaviorism and spirituality. Modern mystics and other spiritually minded men and women accept evolution but do not deny God or Christ, and these spiritual forces must combine against the growth of materialistic behaviorism as represented by Dr. John B. Watson and Charles Dorsey.

Fundamentalism, instead of being the bulwark of religion, is its most vulnerable spot. It is outmoded and inconsistent with modern thought, a very 'heel of Achilles' which we must dispose of before we can establish a firm front in this new conflict. Evolution applies to mental and spiritual growth as much as to the development of man as an organism.
Publication History and Census
This chart was published by Rand McNally in three editions in 1932, 1942, and 1949. The current example bears only the 1932 date, but historical content up to about 1945, suggests this is the 1949 edition. The 1942 edition seems to be the most commonly held by institutions, with perhaps five holdings. We see no examples of the 1932 first edition or, as here, the 1949.


John B. Sparks (1886 - December 22, 1949) was a chemical engineer, bacteriologist, and historian. Born in England, at some point in his life Sparks immigrated to the United States. He developed a fascination with culture, history, and the philosophies of other civilizations from a young age, which led him to create a series of three 'histomaps' concerning history, evolution, and religion. At the time of his death, Sparks was a director of Nestle's Milk Products Inc. in New York City. He married Dorothy C. Sparks with whom he had three children, one son and two daughters. More by this mapmaker...

Rand, McNally and Co. (fl. 1856 - present) is an American publisher of maps, atlases and globes. The company was founded in 1856 when William H. Rand, a native of Quincy, Massachusetts, opened a print shop in Chicago. Rand hired the recent Irish immigrant Andrew McNally to assist in the shop giving him a wage of 9 USD per week. The duo landed several important contracts, including the Tribune's (later renamed the Chicago Tribune) printing operation. In 1872, Rand McNally produced its first map, a railroad guide, using a new cost effective printing technique known as wax process engraving. As Chicago developed as a railway hub, the Rand firm, now incorporated as Rand McNally, began producing a wide array of railroad maps and guides. Over time, the firm expanded into atlases, globes, educational material, and general literature. By embracing the wax engraving process, Rand McNally was able to dominate the map and atlas market, pushing more traditional American lithographic publishers like Colton, Johnson, and Mitchell out of business. Eventually Rand McNally opened an annex office in New York City headed by Caleb S. Hammond, whose name is today synonymous with maps and atlases, and who later started his own map company, C. S. Hammond & Co. Both firms remain in business. Learn More...


Very good. Light wear along original fold lines. Manuscript writing along right side.


Rumsey 9869.002. OCLC 864894669.