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Geography and Map Division




Women as Mapmakers
Women Geographers
Women's Role in Geographic Education
arrow graphicWomen's Map Collections
Women and Map Librarianship




Women's Map Collections

Several of the division's special collections were assembled by women and reflect the influence of female collections and collectors. The Clara Barton and Margaret Mead collections were acquired by the Library along with their manuscript collections. The thirty-six items in the Barton collection were assembled between 1877 and 1903 and are primarily maps of Europe and the United States. The Mead collection is smaller and consists of several sheets from map sets showing her study areas and other maps containing practical information, such as steamship routes, that Mead used for her work in the field. Manuscript cartographic material that is part of a larger collection is frequently housed in the Manuscript Division.

In contrast, the Ethel M. Fair and the Muriel H. Parry collections are large, with well over eight hundred maps in each. Detailed finding aids exist for both collections. A card file subject catalog for the Fair Collection (G3701.A5 coll .F3 Fair) includes numerous subject headings but does not have one for “Women.” The inventory for the uncataloged Parry Collection provides information about each individual map.

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Bird's Eye View of the Campus of the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina Emma Lee Aderholt and assistants. (Greensboro, N.C.: Jos. J. Stone & Co., n.d.). Fair Collection (no. C433). Geography and Map Division.

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Both Fair and Parry collected pictorial maps, and both collections include a large number of maps made by women. A fascinating aspect of the maps in these collections is the way they convey cartographic information from the point of view of the women who made them. Several maps show women's college campuses—gender-specific space—and interpret the features of the area, often in great detail (see illustration).

There are also large numbers of historical thematic pictorial maps in the two collections. A Map of Exploration in the Spanish Southwest, 1528 to 1793, compiled by Joseph J. Hill (Los Angeles: Automobile Club of Southern California, ca. 1931-32; Fair Collection no. C654) depicts the route taken by the Anza party, which traveled overland from Tubac, then in the Mexican province of Sonora, to California in 1775. (See “Women on the Move” in this volume).

Few original contemporary maps match the degree of detailed information about historical events presented in thematic maps based on primary source material. Frequent use of thematic maps in educational settings, particularly in elementary schools where a majority of the teachers are women, may explain why so many of these maps have been created and collected by women.

The Mary J. Webb Collection (G4030 coll .W4) acquired in 1941, consists primarily of maps that were traced from original surveys in an effort to establish property rights to early Texas land grants. Copied in the early years of the twentieth century, the maps are listed and described in a finding aid, which in most cases names the original map sources.

The Janet Green Collection, given to the Library of Congress by her estate, is a magnificent collection of maps, many of which are both old and rare. It reflects Green's collecting interests, which spanned the globe and included maps from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. She was particularly interested in rare historic maps of Virginia. A cross-referenced finding aid arranged by call number of the individual maps in the collection and author is available for use in the division's reading room.

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