Maps Show Opens in Magill Library

Monday evening, Quaker & Special Collections opened its latest show in the Sharpless Gallery of Magill Library: You Are Here: Exploring the Contours of our Academic Community Though Maps. The exhibit, which presents historical maps and sketches next to modern student- or faculty-made ones, is a collaboration between Special Collections and members of the Haverford community from faculty (Maud McInerney, Harvey Glickman and others), staff (the communications department’s Jennifer O’Donnell, the Arboretum’s Martha van Artsdalen), students and even current Haverford parents (one 1625 map of America, featuring California as an island, was chosen and described by Richard Kahn, dad of Stephanie Kahn ’14).

Earlier this year, Head of Special Collections John Anderies put out a call to campus community members and friends of the College for participation, and the positive response he received (and the deep well of fascinating map artifacts held in the collection) has made for a lively and interactive exhibit. One map, an aerial Google Maps-like interpretation of the current-day campus, maps the culture and “social geography” of the College, as spectators are encouraged to tag different spots on campus with personal events that happened there. (“My first date was skating on the duck pond 1978;” “Best place to make-out on campus;” “Track team streaks library” read a few of the tags on opening night.)

But historical maps (both of the campus and the wider world) abound as well. A circa-1851 whale chart, a facsimile of an 1897 blueprint for a skating pond and an 1873 sketch for Barclay Hall are just a few of the other, older maps collected for the exhibit. More than just physical spaces are mapped as well. Assistant Professor of History Darin Hayton writes a caption for James C. Prichard’s ethnographic map in his 1843 Natural History of Man, which charts racial variations. And Robin Chernow ’15 analyzes what is represented on a 1681 map of early Pennsylvania, drawn by John Thornton for William Penn (A Map of some of the South and Eastbounds of Pennsylvania in America, being Partly Inhabited). “The map’s title mentions Pennsylvania is ‘partly inhabited’ so potential settlers know there is plenty of unsettled land available for future development, and they know people have been able to live there so residing in Pennsylvania is a realistic possibility,” she writes in the map’s caption. “Homesteads and properties have large, legible labels with their owners’ names, which imply to viewers that individual are important to society because so many names are visible on a big map. The map also depicts the wilderness as harmless, filled with rolling hills and common trees so potential settlers feel comfortable with the idea of dwelling in Pennsylvania. The map does not present Indians, which many Europeans feared, as a threat; instead, it shows the Indian ‘Sasquahana Fort demolished’ and an ‘Old Indian Field.’ Both examples suggest the decline of Indian presence. Thornton and [cartographer] Seller presented Penn with useful propaganda maps to subtly encourage people to purchase Pennsylvania land.”

There is even a space for show-goers to draw their own map or color a Haverford History Map.

1933 map of Haverford
1866 map of “Indian Territories”

You Are Here… will be up in Sharpless Gallery through February 10.

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