Maps combine art, propaganda, stories

The other day I caught this 1914 Dutch political cartoon depicting the author’s perception of the great European powers at that time. Andrew Sullivan wrote about it at The Daily Dish, where he opined about the political, indeed, propaganda qualities of maps. Even without the caricatures shown here, anything from the color to the orientation of a map indicates a great deal about the mapmakers’ views.

I always find maps of the country and am amazed at what makes the cut for my corner of the world. Above my desk right now I have a copy of Hammond’s Map of the World, c. 1939, which I recovered from the basement of our old home in Hibbing, which was originally owned by a high school social studies teacher and his wife. The map shows Duluth and Crookston, Minnesota, but nothing from the Iron Range.

Another garage sale find, a map of the United States, shows Hibbing, while the globe I had as a teenager depicted Virginia. Gets me thinking I should make a map of the Iron Range like this one, or perhaps Minnesota.

I strongly encourage you to read “Dogs of War,” the original post about these European propaganda maps from BibliOdyssey, which is where I found these images. The above image was the simplest, sharpest example of the form, each of which varies in its unique political perspective.

The German map below has a completely different viewpoint, but I rather enjoy the fact that it’s the only one acknowledging Finland’s situation at the time — trying desperately to free itself from Russian domination.

It’s funny how all these European powers of 100 years ago thought Russia was such a joke and a little less funny to see how Russia’s response to that attitude affected the 20th century. It’s also telling that this was the last time the whole works didn’t need to depict the 800 pound red, white and blue gorilla in the room, the United States of America — which at that time was an emerging power, many years and many trillions of dollars away from becoming a superpower.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan, “Maps as Propaganda” and the original post “Dogs of War” at BiliOdyssey)

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