Atlas of the Week: Atlas for the Blind

Atlas for the Blind

The David Rumsey Map Collection has preserved and digitized this unique 1837 atlas of the United States.  Made by Samuel Gridley Howe to help children at the New England Institute for the Education of the Blind, the atlas compiles embossed images of each state, complete with borders, rivers, mountain ranges, and text each marked by a different textured engraving.  For instance, borders are represented by dotted lines and rivers by smooth lines, each protruding from the page.  Accompanying each state image is a page of text verbally describing the tactile experience of exploring the state.  Even though geography is predominately understood visually, this atlas disregards convention and takes mapping and cartography into a remarkably new frontier.

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