Boston Map Society

The home for map lovers in Boston and New England

James Akerman: Reading Maps in 20th Century Travel Brochures: A Primer

Apr 22, 2021 · 7:00 pm

Organized by the Washington Map Society in conjunction with the Chicago Map Society. Sponsored in partnership with the Boston, California, Chicago, New York, Philip Lee Phillips, Rocky Mountain, and Texas Map Societies

For the past several decades, the Newberry Library has been collecting travel brochures advertising tourist attractions, points of interest, and other localities of potential interest to leisure travelers. Most of the library’s extensive holdings of these materials (numbering at least 100,000 items) are North American in origin and date from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries. In this presentation, Akerman will introduce us to this collection, by focusing on approximately 20 examples, offering a preliminary methodology for describing and drawing meaning from these ubiquitous yet widely disregarded sources at the intersection between mapping, cultural geography, and the history of travel and tourism. The presentation will consider three areas: (1) the physical relationship of the maps to the other elements of the brochure; (2) the authorship, design, and content of the maps; and (3) questions of meaning and interpretation. These are by no means an exhaustive list of what might be drawn from these objects but are offered as a starting point for conversation and further study.

James Akerman (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) is Director of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and Curator of Maps at the Newberry Library, Chicago. He has taught, curated online and physical exhibits, and published widely in the history of cartography. His research and publications primarily concern the history of travel mapping, popular cartography, and atlases. He is the editor or co-editor of five collections of scholarly essays, most recently, Decolonizing the Map (University of Chicago Press, 2017). He serves as a Trustee of the International Society for the History of the Map; and is member of the Board of Directors for Imago Mundi, Ltd., and the Boards of Review for the Osher Map Library and the Leventhal Map and Education Center.

Register in advance for this meeting:

 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.