May 12, 2017 Golden Age of Pictorial Maps Is Subject of Book Discussion

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Pictorial maps – maps that include artwork of objects, animals, people and even imaginary creatures – have been around since medieval times. The tradition continued to the modern era, reaching its apex in the 1920s-1970s in the United States.

The Library of Congress has an extensive collection of these maps in its Geography and Map Division. Many of the maps reproduced in “Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps” (University of Chicago Press, 2017) by Stephen J. Hornsby are from the division’s collections.

Hornsby will discuss and sign his book on Wednesday, May 24, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the Library’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. in Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event is sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Instructive, amusing and colorful, many of these maps were mass-produced for use as advertisements and decorative objects during their golden age. Organized into six thematic sections, “Picturing America” covers a vast swath of the pictorial-map tradition, ranging from “Maps to Amuse” to “Maps for War.” Hornsby has unearthed some of the most fascinating and visually striking maps the United States has to offer: Disney cartoon maps, maps of college campuses, zany state tourism ads, World War II-related maps and many more.

Hornsby is the director of the Canadian-American Center and a professor of geography and Canadian studies at the University of Maine. He is the author and co-editor of several books, including the prize-winning “Historical Atlas of Maine.”

The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading, is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading promotion partners and through the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit

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PR 17-073
ISSN 0731-3527