1884 Sargent Arboreal Map of North America Depicting Oak Trees


1884 Sargent Arboreal Map of North America Depicting Oak Trees


Early U.S. Geological Survey and Charles Sargent arboreal map of North America depicting oak trees.


Map Showing the Distribution of the Genus Quercus (the Oaks) in North America Exclusive of Mexico.
  1884 (undated)     23 x 17.5 in (58.42 x 44.45 cm)     1 : 15300000


This is an 1884 Charles Sprague Sargent arboreal thematic map of North America. The map depicts the continent of North America from the Arctic Ocean, Alaska, and Canada south to Mexico and Central America as well as the extreme northern reaches of South America and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. It was a part of a portfolio entitled Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America, which accompanied the 1884 Department of the Interior Report on Forests of North America (Exclusive of Mexico), itself a part of the United States Census of 1880.

As the title suggests, the purpose of the map is to illustrate the distribution of genus Quercus, or oak, trees. A legend along the left border explains that the eight different colors present on the map indicate the number of species of oak tree which inhabits a given region of the United States and Canada. Oak trees are a type of tree in the genus Pinus, of the beech family. Per the map, oak trees are native to large portions of the eastern United States, the southern Rocky Mountains, the Pacific coast, and parts of southern Canada. The darker the color of green, the higher the number of species of oak tree that inhabit a given region.

Although created to illustrate the distribution of oak trees, several other aspects of the geography of North America are also depicted. Myriad rivers are labeled, as well as all the contemporary states, which at the time included the Indian Territory and Dakota as well as the Alaska Territory. State capitols and other major cities are labeled. Mountain ranges are depicted in both North and Central America. An inset map is located at the lower left corner and depicts the Aleutian Islands and Kamchatka.

This map was prepared under the direction of Charles Sprague Sargent, drafted by Harry King, and compiled under the direction of Henry Garrett. The map is number eight of the portfolio titled Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America which accompanied the 1884 Department of the Interior Report on Forests of North America (Exclusive of Mexico) and was published by Julius Bien in New York.


Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) was an American botanist who was the first director of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, a post which he held for 54 years. Sargent graduated from Harvard College in 1862 with a degree in Biology and immediately joined the United States Army and served in Louisiana during the Civil War. Following his time in the army, Sargent spent three years touring the botanical gardens of Europe. Upon his return, he took it upon himself to care for the grounds of his family estate, Holm Lea in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1872, Sargent was appointed as a professor of horticulture at the newly formed Bussey Institution and in 1873 was named Director of the Arnold Arboretum. The Arboretum slowing began to take shape in the years following his appointment, and, beginning in 1878, Sargent began working with the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead on a path and roadway system. In 1880, Sargent's expertise was called upon by the Department of Forestry to conduct a census of the trees of the United States by region, which was published in 1884 as Report on the Forests of North America (exclusive of Mexico). Sargent was influential in the creation of both national forests and national parks over the course of his career. It is said that Sargent spent all his waking hours either working in the administration building that he had raised the funds to have built, or wandering the grounds of the Arboretum. His expertise was renowned, even his own staff considered him to be a 'one-man institution'. After Sargent's death in 1927, Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller planted a white spruce on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in his memory, stating, 'Professor Sargent knew more about trees than any other living person. It would be hard to find anyone who did more to protect trees from the vandalism of those who do not appreciate the contribution that they make to the beauty and wealth of our nation.'

Henry Gannett (1846 – 1914) was an American geographer who is described as the 'Father of Government Mapmaking'. Gannet was among those lobbying to centralize all government mapmaking under one agency. Before the creation of the United States Geological Survey, individual mapmakers and agencies had to compete for money from Congress to fund projects. His first job with the USGS was geographer of the 1880 United States Census. The completion of the census in 1882 is considered the start of true topographical work in the United States and the birth of the quadrangle. Gannet served as chief geographer on two subsequent censuses, 1890 and 1900, and was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.

The United States Geological Survey (1878 - Present), aka the U.S.G.S., is a scientific agency of the United States government, which was founded in 1879. USGS scientists study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines: biology, geography, geology, and hydrology. It is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior and is the department's only scientific agency.


Sargent, C.S., Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America (New York: Bien) 1884.    


Very good. Even overall toning. Closed margin tears professionally repaired on verso.


OCLC 431578525.