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1937 WPA Pictorial Map of the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, etc.)

The Old Northwest Territory. - Main View

1937 WPA Pictorial Map of the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, etc.)


The 'Old Northwest' remembered.


The Old Northwest Territory.
  1937 (undated)     22.5 x 17 in (57.15 x 43.18 cm)     1 : 3730000


An uncommon 1937 pictorial map of the old Northwest Territory by Fred Rentschler, accompanied by its original booklet. The map includes all five Great Lakes and the modern-day states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. It includes numerous vignettes referencing historic events, American Indian peoples, and folklore. The main map is surrounded by historical maps illustrating various plans for the Northwest Territory ranging from the 'Thomas Jefferson Conception' to specific illustrations of the individual states in different configurations. The verso features a transcript of the Ordinance of 1787 as well as additional historical text.
The Northwest Territory
The map graphically celebrates the Ordinance of 1787, which created the Northwest Territory, and became one of the most influential acts of Congress ever passed. It established the precedent by which the Federal government maintained sovereignty over westward expansion through land grants and the admission of new states, rather than through the expansion of existing states under the Articles of Confederation. The addition of new states thus centralized power in the Federal government.
The Northwest Territory Sesquicentennial
The 150th anniversary of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was celebrated in Ohio in 1937. The celebration was proposed to the United States Congress by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the WPA supported the idea, believing that the celebration would help to lift the spirits of a nation mired in unrelenting economic depression. Congress appropriated 100,000 USD for the event. Celebrations included a historical play, an essay contest, lectures, and a wagon train voyage from Ipswich, MA, to Marietta, OH. It was considered a great success.
Works Progress Administration (WPA)
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an American New Deal agency created on on May 6, 1935 through executive order by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Part of the Second New Deal, the WPA employed millions of out-of-work Americans on a variety of public works projects including the construction of public buildings and roads, the decorating of public buildings with art, sponsoring cultural events, and more. At its peak, the WPA employed more than three million people. Its most famous effort, Federal Project Number One, employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It created several subsidiary organizations, including the organization that published the map, the Federal Art Project (FAP). When World War II broke out, the war effort propelled the American economy to full employment. No longer needed, the WPA faded away and was officially closed on June 30, 1943.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Fred Rentschler for the Federal Art Project, Works Progress Administration (WPA) of Ohio. It was issued by the Northwest Territory Celebration Commission and published in Marietta, Ohio. The present example accompanies the map's original booklet, deaccessioned from the Dayton Art Institute.


Fred Rentschler (fl. c. 1920 – c. 1943) was a Swiss-born American artist active in Cleveland, Ohio. Rentschler emigrated to the United States, settling in Cleveland, in the early 1920s. He later taught at the Cleveland School of Art. From 1935 to 1943 he was the head of the lithographic division at the Federal Art Project (WPA) in Cleveland. Rentschler's WPA artwork focused on adult education and challenged the viewer question his ignorances and rectify them. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Exhibits light wear along original fold lines. Verso repairs along bottom transverse fold. Text and illustrations on verso.


Rumsey 8373.000.