We recently received a pair of maps showing the British and French empires during the interwar period. Neither had been published as a separate map.

Portrait of Edward VIII is an image of his official picture.The British map appeared in the March 22, 1936 issue of the Boston Advertiser, and the French map was published as a 2-page spread in the May 1931 issue of Fortune.

French empire in blue; British empire in red.

What other maps of empires or imperial realms are in our collections?

Bisiker’s British Empire (and Japan) : Its Features, Resources, Commerce, Industries, and Scenery was published to meet the need for maps of the Empire for educational purposes.

Cover of The British Empire (and Japan)The title requires some explanation. Great Britain and Japan had signed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902, largely based on both nations’ desire to oppose Russian expansion. From the atlas’ preface: “As its name implies, this atlas deals primarily with the British Empire; though Japan, as the ally of the Empire, has a place beside it….”

The atlas includes a map of the British Empire in 1908 employing the traditional pink tones to show the extent of the Empire. The map also includes tables of statistics of areas and populations of British territories and sizes of the armies and navies of the Great Powers.

British Empire 1908Legend for British Empire 1908Following a number of maps of continents and thematic world maps, each part of the British Empire is treated by a 2-page display that includes a general map of the area; a shaded relief map at the same scale; maps showing products and industries, climate, and population density; sketches or photographs of landscapes, plant and animal species, and native peoples; and statistical information.

AustraliaInterestingly, the Japanese Empire is treated in exactly the same way as the British possessions!! Just two pages of maps and illustrations, no additional information about territories or possessions.

Japanese Empire


The Deutscher Kolonialatlas by Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society) is a much smaller work. Published in 1896, the pamphlet-like atlas contains 7 maps and and brief text descriptions.

Cover of Kleiner Deutscher KolonialatlasThe world map shows German colonies and steamship routes with sailing times.

Erdkarte zur Uebersicht des deutschen Kolonialbesitzes und der Postdampferlinien des Deutschen ReichesIt is followed by a map of Africa and Europe, again highlighting German colonies and steamship lines; 4 maps of areas within Africa, and a map of German possessions in the Pacific.

Ubersichtskarte von KamerunThe 1900 edition of the atlas is much the same with one additional map showing east China, Japan and Korea, including an inset map highlighting the area leased by Germany around the China’s Jiaozhou Bay (a 99-year lease similar to Britain’s lease of Hong Kong).

Ost-China, Japan und Korea mit dem deutschen Packtgebiete Kiau-tschou


Atlas Colonial Francais was published in 1929 by L’Illustration, a weekly Paris newspaper.

Atlas Colonial FrancaisThe atlas contains extensive text sections, illustrated with many photographs, describing French colonial history, France, and France’s colonies. Because of France’s long colonial history, events are described very briefly. The sale of Louisiana to the United States is described as “Le Premier Consul vend la Louisiane aux Etats-Unis.” at the end of a brief, three-sentence paragraph describing events in 1801 and 1803.

L'Empire Colonial FrancaisOf the 56 maps included, many double-paged, 5 are of France or the French Empire during different eras, 34 cover areas in Africa, 10 show areas in Asia, 4 colonies in the Americas, and 3 French-controlled islands in the Pacific. Some areas have just a single general map, perhaps with inset maps of the largest towns. Others, such as French Equatorial Africa, Madagascar, and Indochina have 2 or 3 maps, general, physical, and economic.

Indochine EconomiqueLegend for Indochine Economique


The United States also has a strong and long history of imperialism. The extended title on the title page of the Pictorial Atlas of the Greater United States and the World twice uses the word “possessions” to describe some of the areas covered.

Title Page from Pictorial Atlas of the Greater United States and the WorldThe part of the table of contents that lists map page numbers for states and territories of the United States includes both the Philippine Islands and Puerto Rico. Both had been ceded to the United States by Spain by the 1898 peace treaty ending the Spanish American War, and both appear, along with a maps of the East and West Indies, between maps of Alaska and Hawaii.

United States Table of Contents for Pictorial Atlas of the Greater United States.The index list of United States states and territories does not include one other area that appears within the United States section: Cuba. By the 1898 Peace Treaty, Cuba was occupied by the United States.CubaNone of the islands claimed by the United States through the 1856 Guano Islands Act, which created a far-flung empire of agricultural-support resources, are identified as United States territories.

Literary Maps

Map of Adventures for Boys and Girls (1925)Last week, we discovered the delightful Map of Adventures for Boys and Girls in the University Library’s Main Stacks. Created by Paul M. Paine and published in 1925, this map shows locations of real life and fictional adventures. Sea routes of great explorers criss-cross the oceans, and Paine identifies locations for the Swiss Family Robinson (Papua New Guinea) and a probable location of Treasure Island (in or near the Leeward Islands). The map’s readers are expected to have some knowledge of literature; Robinson Crusoe’s island is labeled with a quote from the book — “the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore.”

The map is illustrated with small sketches of animals and ships.

Raindeer and Sleigh in Russian AsiaAfricaMap users need to be aware that real locations might not be correctly placed. On the portion of the map showing the eastern United States, “A. Lincoln’s City” appears to be located in Ohio!

Eastern United StatesThe Map Library has another literary map by Paine,The Booklovers Map of America. Paine incorporates names of authors associated with locations, locations of literary works, and small illustrations.

The Booklovers Map of AmericaTen years later, Booklover’s Map of the United States was published. Like Paine’s map, author and work locations are identified, many with illustrations. The creator of this map, Amy Jones, also drew The World in Storybooks, published in 1946.

The Booklover's Map of the United StatesSome literary maps celebrate the work of a single author. A Map of Sinclair Lewis’ United States locates principal places in Lewis’ works. The map was published 4 years after Lewis had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and was intended to promote Lewis’ works published between 1914 and 1934.

A Map of Sinclair Lewis' United StatesThe Adventures of Mark Twain also was produced as a promotional item; it ties in with the Warner Brothers movie with the same title staring Fredric March as Samuel L. Clemens. The map is heavily illustrated with sketches depicting events in Clemens’ life and works. Surrounding the map are stills from the movie. Published in 1944, the map is a wonderful propaganda piece promoting an American original, American myths, and the sale of war bonds.

The Adventures of Mark TwainOther literary maps can be found online at the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division’s online exhibit Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America. The items at this website were part of an exhibit mounted by the Division 1993-1996. The exhibit was accompanied by a book, Language of the Land: The Library of Congress Book of Literary Maps, an annotated and illustrated cartobibliography of more than 200 literary maps held by the Division.

War Games!

Twenty panels, plus legend panel, of a detailed map of Fort Leavenworth and vicinity intended for "map maneuvers" held as part of the coursework at the Army Service Schools. Each panel is approximately 18 x 18 inches.

The School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry, located at Fort Leavenworth, was founded in 1881 by William Tecumseh Sherman to give graduates of West Point practical experience and additional training through a two-year course of instruction. In 1907, the School’s name changed to Army School of the Line, and the following year it was merged with other schools at Fort Leavenworth to create the Army Service Schools.

The annual report of the commandant of the Schools for its 1908 academic year discusses the need for “good maps for the war game.” During 1908 the course on “Map Maneuvers” had been greatly expanded and included both a ground- and a classroom/map-based component. War games “properly conducted [are] one of the best methods of teaching or acquiring a practical knowledge of tactics.” The lack of an appropriate map for the “Map Maneuvers” course seems to have been a stumbling point. The United States Army was dependent upon a German map created specifically for war gaming; Germany was a leader in developing this instructional technique. The writer of the 1908 report for the School of the Line calls for the War Department to create and distribute war game maps to all “posts.” The School had underway a map that was being developed by enlarging US Geological Survey topographic maps. The “map that as far as completed is superior for the purpose to any foreign map we have.”

Topographic map surveyed 1906-1909. Shows most of Leavenworth County, Kansas, and part of Platte County, Missouri.

This call for a suitable, United States-produced map truly began to be answered in 1909. Two war game map projects were begun and well underway by the writing of the 1909 Army Service Schools annual report. From the section of the Department of Engineering:
“Our most important work so far has been a new war game map containing all possible desirable features for an American War Game Map. This map was based on an enlargement of the Geological Survey Map [see map above], carefully filled in with all desirable detail by Captains Conger and Fitch. Twenty sheets, 18 x 18 have so far been issued admirably printed, of a total size of 7½ x 6 miles. This map can be published at such reasonable rates that officers can procure the twenty sheets for thirty-five cents. It is the intention to keep on with this map until it reaches a size of about one hundred square miles or more. A similar map of the country in the vicinity of Gettysburg, where the country is much flatter, has been started. With these two maps available the service will be well supplied with War Game Maps. The cheapest map heretofore available has been the German War Game Map at about eighteen cents a sheet.”

The first described covers Fort Leavenworth. The twenty sheets, plus the title/legend sheet, are mounted on linen and when unfolded nearly fills our 8 x 10 foot reading room table [see map at top of page]. The only color, other than black, is blue showing rivers, streams, and ponds.

The only color on the map is blue, showing surface water such as streams, rivers, and lakes.

The symbol key is greatly expanded beyond the foundational US Geological Survey’s symbol set. Specific kinds of vegetation (corn, cultivate land, tress without underbrush, woods with under bush), railroads (single or double track), kinds of fences, and ground features are identified. Stone culverts appear as archways, and bridges look like bridges in profile.

Because the map was used to practice ground troop maneuvers, the types of vegetation cover was very important.

Bridges on the Fort Leavenworth War Game Map are often depicted in profile.

The scale statements, beyond the standard 12 inches = 1 miles, revolve around non-mechanized transport – by foot, either human or equine.

The Fort Leavenworth War Game Map is a product of its times. None of the assumed transportation modes in this verbal scale are mechanized.

Bar scales, rather than verbal scales, showing distance moved per minute for different modes of transportation.Scales were also available as separate pieces that could be laid on top of the map to calculate travel time.

Paper templates glued to cardboard could be laid on map to determine time to travel specific distances.

The map shows building locations as well as the names of rural land or home owners.

One panel from the Fort Leavenworth War Game Map. Note that property owners are named.


Detail showing the U.S. Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth.

Work must have continued steadily on the Leavenworth War Game Map as the 1913 annual report indicates that “the remaining 49 sheets of the Leavenworth War Game Map were completed, involving the collection of field data and its transfer to enlargements of the geological survey map, tracing the resulting sheets, and making prints for lithographic reproductions.”

The availability of the Fort Leavenworth War Game Map was described in reports such as the annual report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York and magazines such as The National Guard Magazine, Infantry Journal, Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States, and Arms and the Man: The National Military and Shooting Weekly. It also appears in the new acquisitions list of the American Geographical Society’s Library. Additionally, the Army Service Schools produced pamphlets with “map maneuver” scenarios for both the Leavenworth and the Gettysburg set, and text books such as Map Maneuvers and Tactical Rides (by Farrand Sayre, a major in the U.S. Army and an instructor at the Army Service Schools) and Applied Minor Tactics (by Capt. Jas. A. Moss of the 24th U.S. Infantry) also including scenarios and instructions for running war games were published.


Cameroons — 1948


Last week, this map, created by the Nigerian Survey Department in 1949, sparked the questions “Where is this?” and “What’s going on?” We discovered it the drawer of maps of Nigeria as we worked through to shift part of the collection.

Beginning in the early 1880’s, Germany held as a protectorate an area called Kamerun. It was larger than current Cameroon, including parts of Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, and Nigeria.

Colonial possessions of Great Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, and Spain at the end of the 19th century. Includes inset map of Africa in 1848.

Prior to the First World War, map publishers showed "firm" boundaries between territories as well as amorphous limits of influence. Note the strong diagonal border between Niger and Kamerun in comparison to the fluid-appearing division between Niger and the French-controlled Sahara Desert to the north.

During the First World War, Kamerun was occupied by British, French, and Belgian troops. The area was divided by the League of Nations into two mandated territories, British Cameroons (Northern and Southern) and French Cameroun in 1922.

After the First World War, large areas of Africa formerly controlled by Germany were governed under League of Nations mandates. Germany has completely disappeared from the map of Africa.

Although not clearly marked, diagonal lines in eastern Nigeria show the location of the British Cameroons.

In 1946, mandated territories became United Nations Trust Territories.

This British map clearly shows the area of the Cameroons (British Trust Territory). Looking at the southern portion, the boundary between the Northern and Southern Cameroons can be seen.

Map publishers seem to have both highlighted and downplayed the British Cameroons. In this map published by the National Geographic society in July 1960, the British Cameroons are clearly separate from both Nigeria and Cameroun.

The British Cameroons are clearly shown as separate from both Nigeria and French Cameroun in this National Geographic Society map.

Yet in this map, also published in 1960, by George Cram, the British Cameroons are subsumed into Nigeria. You need to look very carefully to see the darker pink line in eastern Nigeria marking the British Cameroons boundaries.

Note the bright pink line near the Nigeria-Cameroon border demarking the boundary of British Cameroons.

In 1961, a plebiscite was held to determine whether the British Cameroons would unite with Nigeria or Cameroun; both had attained independence in 1960. Northern Cameroon (discontiguous brown, green and yellow in top map) voted to unify with Nigeria while Southern Cameroon (pink in top map) voted for Cameroon.


The World’s First National Park

Earlier this week, on March 1, Yellowstone National Park turned 144 years old. It was created in 1872  through an Act of Congress titled “An Act to set apart a certain tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River as a public park.” Through the act, the immense tract of land (a rectangle approximately 65 x 55 miles) was “hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Additional areas were added to the Park in 1929 and 1932.

The creation of Yellowstone National Park paved the way for the nation’s ongoing program of environmental conservation and protection.

Although Yellowstone is 1,400 miles (nearly 22 driving hours!) away from Champaign-Urbana, the Map Library has a number of interesting maps, old and new, of Yellowstone.

Less than 10 years after its founding, maps for Yellowstone tourists were being published. This Map of the Yellowstone National Park was distributed by The Northern Pacific Railroad as Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland: The Yellowstone National Park.


On the back of the map is a letter from “Alice” to her cousin Edith describing her trip from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the landscape and her impressions of the Park. The letter is illustrated with small color landscape sketches. Alice even includes a postscript asking Edith to tell their friend Emily Cavendish about the best way to travel from San Francisco to Yellowstone!




One of our newest publications on Yellowstone National Park is the gorgeous Atlas of Yellowstone published by the University of California Press in 2012.


Through page-sized maps and sets of small multiples, the atlas presents the history, and environment of the Park and its surroundings. IMG_2376IMG_2385IMG_2384  IMG_2375

This atlas is always on my list to show classes as an exemplar of clean and effective map design.



Welcome to the Map Library!

A new year, a new semester — a new blog!

Welcome to the Map Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s new (first) blog.

We recently received a number of items that I have been showing off to anyone who came to the Map Library — things that I wanted to celebrate more widely.

So, look here for photographs of interesting, beautiful, and odd maps that are new to the collection or that have been recently discovered or used. We’ll also include updates on happenings in the Map Library.

Our current exhibit, in the hall outside of 418 Library where the Map Library is located, celebrates the centennial of the signing of the National Park Service Organic Act by Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. The act created the National Park Service, within the United States Department of the Interior, to manage the United States’ national parks and monuments. In 1916, there were 37 areas under the Service’s authority; by 2016 this number has grown to well over 400 and includes areas such as national parks; national monuments; national battlefields and military parks; national seashores, lake shores, and rivers.

A display celebrating the centennial of the signing of the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916. Display located outside of the Map Library during early Spring 2016.