1810 Pair of Anonymous American Schoolgirl Manuscript Maps: United States and World

The United States of America. / [The World]. - Main View

1810 Pair of Anonymous American Schoolgirl Manuscript Maps: United States and World


Matched pair of early American schoolgirl maps.


The United States of America. / [The World].
  1810 (undated)     18 x 26 in (45.72 x 66.04 cm)


A remarkable c. 1810 pair of manuscript 'schoolgirl' maps exhibiting the world in hemispheres and the United States of America, respectively. The drafting of such maps was an important part of girls' education at the time, carrying with it the didactic function of inculcating a shared sense of identity and civic virtues.
The World
The first of the two maps displays the world in hemispheres. As borders between countries are not drawn, it is difficult to date with certainty, but the fairly accurate mapping of Kamchatka, Alaska, the western North America, and the Sandwich Isles all suggest a date in the early 19th century. The Barbary Coast is clearly indicated, reflecting Americans' familiarity with the area due to piracy and warfare there in the early 19th century.
The United States
The second map depicts the United States of America. The inclusion of the Illinois Territory indicates a date of 1809 or later, while the lack of the state of Louisiana suggests a date earlier than 1812. It is notable for the documentation of Native American tribes in the Mississippi Territory and Georgia, as well as frontier forts in Indiana. Across the 1810s, in large part due to the War of 1812, schoolgirl maps took the entire country as their subject rather than individual states, as had been more common earlier, reflecting the development of a shared national identity.
Schoolgirl Maps
While the use of mapmaking in teaching is first seen in Europe, mainly England, the schoolgirl map became a peculiarly American pedagogical tool in the first part of the 19th century, a period in which standards and purposes in women's education were changing. While boys were frequently taught the practical execution of surveys and charts, the production of attractive and informative maps appears to have been primarily the domain of young women. Such maps can be found of the World, the United States, or more specific maps of individual states. These were usually based on generally available reference maps, such as those found in the atlases produced by Carey and Lea, Finley, and Mitchell.

The goals of these exercises were more far-reaching than teaching geography. Girls learned penmanship, each map often using three or more lettering styles. Mapmaking sharpened the retention and recall of factual information. Students were encouraged to take pains in their draftsmanship, and often achieved beautiful flourishes of artistic expression in their maps. But most peculiar to the American iterations of educational mapping was the goal of instilling a sense of civic pride and responsibility. Indeed, the key desired result of the education of girls in the post-Revolutionary-War United States was to prepare for the education of the next generation of American citizens, a patriotic duty which would primarily fall on the shoulders of these young women.

For a good overview of the topic, see Betty Mason's article, '19th Century Schoolgirls Were Incredibly Good at Drawing Maps,' published July 27, 2016 by National Geographic.
Publication History and Census
These maps were produced by an anonymous cartographer or cartographers around the year 1810. As manuscript maps, they are one-of-a-kind items.


Good. Stabilized. Original rollers. Manuscript. Each map is about 18 x 16 inches, without rollers.