Map Duo Presentation Leo Barnes and Christopher Ferreira – Negro Program of Communist Party & Guerrilla Acts of Sabotage

While the precise date is unknown, the Negro Program of the Communist Party Map predates the Guerilla Acts of Sabotage map. The map was published by the South Carolina Klu Klux Klan to associate African Americans and communists together to foment hatred of them both. Questions on how to organize a multiracial society and those surrounding what to do with economic surplus and how socially planned the government should be are not inherently connected and the authors feel the need to make this connection explicit. The way they do this is by pulling materials from “The Platform of The Class Struggle” a widely disseminated pamphlet published in 1928 that talks about the problems and opportunities for communism to spread to the United States. While the pamphlet considers many aspects of American society, from problems of housing, foreign-born workers, miner strikes, and child labor, the problem the communist party focuses on is the chapter speaking to the “oppression of the negroes.” In this chapter, the authors discuss how African Americans are second-class citizens oppressed in every manner imaginable and how they are the perfect candidates to help support a communist uprising in the American South. While the map itself is sourced from somewhere else, the left page of the Klan pamphlet is pulled entirely from the communist literature. The Klan then attempts to analyze the communist propaganda it pulled while furtively adding in suppositions and conclusions of its own and presenting those as truths. For example, nowhere in the section it pulled, or the source material for that matter, does the mass displacement of 10 million white people, or their forced evictions come up. Nor does giving New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Shreveport, and Atlanta to African Americans come up. Lastly, nowhere in the literature is Paul Robeson (jazz musician, football player, and activist) mentioned. The KKK is masking its claims of what the future would hold under communist leadership by pointing back to the source literature and their preternatural understanding of communist party functions (by saying the map came from secret files of the communist party they’re implying that they have other hidden knowledge). Occasionally they throw in a date so exact or an article or committee so specific that the reader can’t help but feel no one would brazenly lie like that, but other claims it makes are entirely unsubstantiated. 

The Black Panthers used this map in their magazine to highlight the amount of domestic terrorism there is in the United States. They were actively promoting terrorism as they believed it was for a good cause, that being equality. They called the people committing these acts freedom fighters, and often referred to the police as pigs. There was a call to action in the article along with the map, and it overall just highlighted the racial tensions that existed in the U.S. during that period of time. While it is not a countermap, its intention was similar, trying to bring attention to injustice.

Both of these maps highlight the racial tensions that coincided with the ideological tensions during the Cold War. While ideological tensions are interpreted as separate from one another, when examined they are actually all intertwined around the current events of the day. These maps show that ideological tensions can and do often coincide.

The room sported a healthy discourse with many voices chiming in especially surrounding the justifiability of terrorism now versus with the publication of the “Guerilla Acts of Sabotage Map.” A student pointed out that since 9/11 the United States and the West more broadly have become very sensitive to domestic terrorism and more likely to view it as murder than political activism. The issue of Israel Palestine came up with a respectful discourse surrounding the morality of both sides’ actions.

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Emilie Mannino – Map of the Week

Emilie Mannino

This 2012 political map was chosen as my “Map of the Week” since the cartographer  shows an absurd amount of bias, along with some humor to engage the audience in an interesting way. The absurd exaggeration the map has to offer pulls the audience in with humor as the audience knows that the world map is not actually designed this way. The map depicts all the powerful and wealthy countries, leaving out the ones with a low population number and may not be as technologically advanced. This may be because the map is designed to reach a certain audience; where someone in power may be looking at specific countries to favor, depending on the world’s relationship status, audience, and technological advancements.  

How could we interpret the over exaggeration of the map in terms of how large each country is shown? We can see how each country on this map is represented differently, where some countries have more or less land than the realistic amount. In simpler terms, when looking at the map, America is emphasized as much more significant than it truly is, overtaking all of North America. Ironically, the American flag represents North America; however, Mexico and Canada are nowhere to be found. Additionally, even though Europe is split up more, Turkey is heavily dense and inaccurate within a modern-day map, and France is nonexistent. 

This map’s skewed perception of the landmass diverts the resources away from smaller countries with equal or even greater economic potential. The bias in how land is depicted in this map has the potential to influence the economic and social dynamics on a global scale, which may belittle certain countries that are shown. Larger countries are frequently considered more powerful and influential, while smaller countries may be overlooked, contributing to the perpetuation of regional biases; these factors may affect trade agreements and political alliances within certain countries. 

Denis Wood and Susan Schulten frequently agree on whether specific maps are “correct”. Throughout each of their books and opinions, the researchers study old maps to understand the complex connections between culture, society, and cartography. Schulten and Wood’s research is known for their critical cartography, investigating maps of their perception and power. Their research and values relate to my map of the week because of a mixture of the complexity of their sarcasm, connections and power. There would be a variety of pros and cons within Denis and Susan’s opinions on this map, such as the over exaggeration of the countries, and how inaccurate the map is shown to be. 

A number of the maps we study in class have different points of view that each cartographer wants to achieve. Whether it be certain types of bias or an audience they want to reach, there is always a more profound meaning within it. Looking at this 2012 political map, with no background information, one could assume that there is a direct audience that this map is aimed toward. There is a bias, and this cartographer is possibly from a first-world country. 


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Map of the Week: Voici les Bases Américaines dans le Monde: Que est l’agresseur? Qui Menace?

PJM_xxx, 7/30/14, 5:43 PM, 8C, 5456×7844 (360+75), 100%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/12 s, R56.2, G31.3, B49.8

When you first look at this map, what do you think? As an American, you’d think it was another anti-soviet, anti-communist map. The gigantic arrows pointing to the U.S.S.R. and China make you think so, especially if you can’t read French. However, once you dissect the map, the motive for the creation of the map becomes clear – it is quite the opposite of what you think.

The projection of the map is unusual, with the U.S.S.R at the center and China right underneath in bold. This, and the huge arrows pointing to these countries bring your attention to them. The map replicates a round globe, allowing practically every country on the planet to be linked to arrows pointing toward the Soviet Union and China. The map is called (in big letters at the top): “Here Are the American Bases Throughout the World: Who is the Aggressor? Who is the Threat?” The paragraph at the top left says “Two million American soldiers are preparing for war outside of America in all countries of the world, with their general staffs, their fleets, their tanks, their planes.” The top right says “Since the crushing of Hitler, not a soldier of the USSR or the popular democracies had fired a single shot outside the borders of his country.” The bottom quotes are quotes from President Truman and General MacArthur about the strategies of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. 

Who made this map? In 1951, The French Communist Party created this map. Why? To expose American military imperialism and double standards from America. During the Cold War era, most of the maps circulating America and the whole world were anti-communist propaganda, so this map was a form of counter-mapping because it was anti-American imperialism propaganda. At the time, American imperialism seemed necessary to stop the spread of communism, but there were numerous dissenters opposing American authority during the era, which should be recognized historically.

The map asks you “Who is the aggressor?”, “Who is the menace?”. Those names were originally assigned to the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War era, so with the pieces of text on the sides and the map, they make you rethink who the actual aggressors of the world are. America has bases all over the world that could attack the U.S.S.R. and China at any moment, which paints America as the menace instead. The map also includes China, which represents the belief that the U.S.S.R. is spreading its communist influence into neighboring countries, but China also seems to be very close to U.S. military bases as well, which further proves America’s imperialist agenda. Since China had just gone through a communist revolution in 1949, America was concerned about China at the time because it meant that a significant part of Asia was under communist control.

I chose this map because it is something different from the maps we’ve seen in this course so far. We are used to seeing propaganda, but not on the other side. The fact that it was created by the French Communist Party and not the Soviets themselves tells you the influence that the Soviets had, especially since the French Communist party was in a country that supported the U.S. Those who saw the map can think about world events from a different point of view, probably resulting in a change of opinion – which was the purpose of the map. Even if most of the world was not on their side, the communist parties around the world were able to use cartography to influence the masses. This is why cartography is very powerful.

Blog link:

Atlas of the Week:

The Library of Congress has such a vast amount of atlases that you could just check out. I found this cool one while digging and the book was owned by Rosa Parks!


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Map Duo Presentation on Lunar Wall Mosaic Map by Alex Harry and Steven Yao

USAF lunar wall mosaic : LEM-1B. - Copy 2 | Library of Congress

The Lunar Wall Mosaic Map was made in 1962 by the USA during the height of conflict in the Space Race between the USSR and the USA. This map depicts creators, mountains, and flat lands that are, for the most part, already named by astronomers from the 16th century. Looking closely at the map, there are some smaller points where it is clear that these places are named by Americans. This map was first created through a process where US government-funded scientists took remote image-sensing photos using observatories and later satellites. From this, they were able to draw a general topographic map, but they had to spend an additional two years using probes and other mathematical calculations to figure out the sea floor and elevation to make all of the craters and mountains consistent. This map was used by the USA to plan out how they were going to put someone on the moon, determine what was the best place to do the moon landing, and later on, was a very important tool for mission control to help the astronauts navigate where they were on the moon. It also had another, more abstract use during the Cold War. While at first glance it is clearly not overt propaganda for the USA, once brought into different contexts and understood in context with the Cold War, the Lunar Wall Mosaic definitely has pro-American sentiments and is political. Due to the military-industrial complex and much of the scientific research into space being funded and overseen by the US government, things created during this time would always be about trying to make America look the best and better than the USSR. In this case, they used the lunar map to demonstrate American superiority over the rest of the world (especially the USSR) by not only demonstrating how “far more advanced” their technology was but also by claiming the moon was to be reached and controlled by the USA instead of the USSR.

During our presentation, we both did a good job of succinctly presenting all of the most important information about the lunar map to the class. One aspect that was well done was how we created dialogue from the start of the presentation by creating a game for people to guess and win candy if they were the closest. We kept up our interactivity throughout the presentation as we continued to ask questions and reward those who answered with candy. By the time we finished presenting and started our discussion questions, we felt that the class was more eager to participate by contributing to the discussion and earning candy for their answers. We also thought that the discussion questions themselves were good, as they were very open-ended and allowed everyone to come up with interesting conclusions about the subject. Overall, to name only a couple of major talking points, we were able to discuss how this map fueled this idea of American superiority among the average white American people, how it created this idea of the USA being destined to be the first one to the moon, and how Wood would have talked about how this map comes from the “USAF” and how that politically influences the development of this map.

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Map Duo Presentation: World Distribution of Spirochetal Diseases

Created in 1950 by Dr. Jacques May, the “Atlas of Disease: World Distribution of Spirochetal Diseases” was created during the Cold War to mark the divide between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and more prominently, the so-called “First” and “Third” World countries. Part of a series which documented the global spread of many diseases, it reflected the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. The map served as Cold War propaganda, highlighting the significance of worldwide modernization and suggesting the ease with which Africa and other “Third World” countries could be taken over by communism, which the United States saw as the ultimate threat. Sponsored through a collaboration of the American Geographic Society, the U.S. Armed Forces, and international pharmaceutical corporations, this map would instill a sense of fear in those who read it (including military officials in Vietnam, Congress, and Pfizer). 

This was accomplished through specific rhetorical techniques of the mapmakers. They used the Briesemeister projection, painting Africa as the center of disease. Simultaneously, the Northern Hemisphere was covered, suggesting that the supposedly “First World,” northern countries are disease-free and therefore creating a division between these different areas of the world. The strategic use of the color red–a color associated with communism, bad outcomes, and alarm–as well as large, striking images of children and disease are impossible to ignore. They associate the countries portrayed on the map with only negative things, using photos of children to evoke sympathy and outrage, and a communist color to evoke fear. 

Although these maps technically show accurate information, the American people in general had very little information about these countries, which are now embedded in their minds as only disease ridden. Additionally, while consumed primarily by Congress and other government employees, the maps are difficult to understand due to a lack of clear, easily consumable information, making the manipulative rhetorical elements all the more prominent. The heavy use of the color red in these maps, regardless of its intended representation of infection rates, could be perceived as an attempt to mislead viewers and manipulate them into associating communism with disease. For instance, dark red signifies an infection rate of 1% in one context and 30% in another, potentially leading to misconceptions. Notably, the maps seem to serve as a gateway to focus on “improving” certain countries, yet those nations are omitted from the conversation. This omission raises questions about the underlying motives and selective framing of information. Overall, despite technically providing accurate information, the lack of accessible details for the general public and the maps’ potential to reinforce biased perceptions makes the manipulative rhetorical elements more pronounced, especially when considering the limited awareness of the American people regarding these nations. 

Propaganda maps, despite their surface appearance of presenting geographic relationships, often deviate from an objective portrayal of reality. In this context, the intentional exclusion of North America and substantial portions of Europe suggests a selective focus, potentially aimed at steering attention away from certain regions. The scientific assertions employed in these maps, reminiscent of the supposed scientific objectivity found in publications like National Geographic, carries a subtle bias against the “Third World” countries, hinting at an agenda despite claims of impartiality. Crucially, the organizations financing the creation of these maps are revealed to have personal, rhetorical agendas, shedding light on the underlying motivations that may compromise the maps’ objectivity and reinforce their propagandistic nature.

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Duo Map Presentation on World Distribution of Spirochetal Diseases by Jacob Wigglesworth and Emilie Mannino

World Distribution of Spirochetal Diseases

This map of World Distribution of Spirochetal Diseases for Yaws, Pinta, and Bejel showcases the epidemiology of the spirochetal diseases being represented through this map (Yaws, Pinta, Bejel), and included information on different factors affecting the prevalence of the diseases, including soils and temperatures, and natural vegetation and rainfall. The map is centered around Africa, with South America and Asia at center-left and center-right, respectively. The map uses a significant amount of red, a color commonly associated with negativity or death, to display disease locations, and this could be interpreted by viewers to represent many people infected with these diseases. In reality, a very small percentage of people in these countries actually had the spirochetal diseases this map displays. 

This map was produced through collaborative efforts among the American Geographical Society, the United States Armed Forces, and international pharmaceutical corporations. The intentions of the cartographers must be considered greatly. The presence of military and private industry interests conflict with the presumption that the production of the maps was out of altruism. The presence of military and corporate entities in the cartographic process points towards an underlying intention of spreading American militarism and interventionism, as well as capitalism, to Africa, Asia, and South America. It came about during the Cold War, when the United States was using aid packages, technical advancements, and providing medicine to “Third World” and impoverished countries in attempts to exert its influence abroad and motivate newly independent “Third World” countries to implement governments that aligned with the Western world. 

This map is able to show us how there exist underlying motivations in the cartographic process. Factual information displayed in this map was used furtively to justify objectionable actions, such as the use of foreign intervention to produce unstable governments and produce governments dependent on the United States for aid. 

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Map of the Week: Redlining in Richmond

If one were to travel from Richmond’s West End or Westover Hills to Church Hill or Oak Grove on a sweltering summer day, the difference in temperature would be appreciable. Representing average summertime temperatures, areas colored in red and orange on the map above (left) face temperatures as much as 20℉ hotter than those in blue (Plumer et al., 2020). This isn’t because West End and Westover Hills sit at a higher elevation. The difference is not due to position relative to the equator or some other small geographic anomaly. Instead, it has to do with strategically drawn lines mapped onto Richmond in the 1930s, a phenomenon now known as “redlining.”

In the 1930s, a federal government agency called the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) was tasked with determining fair mortgage and insurance rates as a way to combat the financial ruin many were facing in the wake of the Great Depression. However, the HOLC failed to justly make these determinations. Thus, redlining is the “institutional practice of refusing to issue fairly priced home mortgages or insurance in areas deemed too risky for investment due to their racial composition, income level, housing age or condition, or some combination thereof” (Markley, 2023). The areas where offering lower mortgages and insurance was determined to be a risk (as the value of these properties was expected to decrease) for the investors were outlined with red and the term redlining was born (Jackson, 2021).

Critically, these areas were in predominantly Black neighborhoods, meaning that Black individuals were routinely denied loan opportunities–most prominently the newly created government-subsidized loans–that could lead to home ownership. This persistent exclusion in turn makes it difficult to build intergenerational wealth, as a house’s value typically continues to grow across its “lifespan.” Black families were unable to either pass down or liquidate that asset, putting them at a disadvantage in comparison to white families and therefore limiting their social mobility. Consequently, predominantly Black neighborhoods were passed over for infrastructure advancements and “were cut off from affordable credit” (Markley, 2023). Evidently, the sociopolitical agenda of the mapmakers and their financiers was embedded within redlined maps and they were able to silently pass racist beliefs off as facts. The maps exemplify Denis Wood’s assertion that maps tend to “take[] a stand while pretending to be neutral,” and suddenly, the maps insert a legal form of segregation into an already racist culture (Wood, 77). 

Although redlining has long since been outlawed, the effects of these maps are still felt today. The United States’ Treasury notes that as of 2022, 75% of white families in the United States were homeowners, while only 45% of Black families were (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2022). Alarmingly, this statistic is the same as it was in 1970, more than 30 years prior. Yet another enduring disadvantage of redlining is the lack of infrastructure and investment in historically redlined locations. These locations sit directly next to Richmond’s industrial area (above the Fan District) and are dissected by interstate 95. Many are therefore inundated with concrete and asphalt, lacking trees and other greenery vital to improving air quality and, as shown in the map above (right), lowering temperatures.

Noticeably, areas outlined in red (the historically redlined neighborhoods) on the heat index and redlining map present much warmer summer temperatures than those which the HOLC deemed reliable investments. When compared with the map of tree cover in Richmond, a direct result of government investment in neighborhoods, the correlation is clear: redlined areas have less tree cover and higher temperatures. Research at the Science Museum of Virginia affirms this, stating that “greenspace, trees, or water bodies within a city have been correlated with cooler land surface temperatures (LST), and more greenspace or water is related to lower urban LST at the location of that greenspace” (Hoffman et al., 2020). An increase in average temperature ultimately leads to adverse health effects, the most obvious being a rise in heat deaths, an issue which will only become more pressing as the effects of global warming continue to impact our planet. Essentially, calculated lines drawn on maps close to a hundred years ago are killing people today. 

Now, these redlining maps have taken on a different message, one which spurs upset and action. First published by the Science Museum of Virginia, the choice to overlay redlined zones on maps of Richmond which display several different trends (as shown here, summer temperatures and tree cover) immediately suggests a correlation to the reader. The different layers act as the map’s sign, allowing the reader to interpret that correlation and the accompanying racial injustice as the map’s supersign. Equally important is the physical representation of the map’s signs. The mapmaker chose to continue outlining the redlined areas in red, thus emphasizing the impacts those historic decisions continue to have on communities of color. That is likely meant to evoke an anger or upset in the reader, aided by the color’s association with violence and danger. Moreover, the mapmaker’s choice to leave Richmond’s landmarks further emphasizes the continued inequality. While the “blue” neighborhoods with lots of tree cover sit near the James River and far from the bustling Downtown area, the “red” neighborhoods are near an industrial area and at the heart of Richmond. This represents the city’s growth in a way which deeply benefitted its well-off, white inhabitants (offering them a respite from hectic, polluted city life) while putting marginalized residents at an even greater disadvantage; they had nowhere to escape to. 

Thus, these new maps are meant to show just how far Richmond still has to go regarding racial inequality. While it is vital to employ solutions that will provide immediate relief to these historically overlooked communities, truly solving these problems means taking today’s issues and then looking back to the past to determine their roots. We must determine what structural inequalities redlining set in place and work to dismantle them, changing the way Richmond functions in a way that better promotes equity and equality. Perhaps, this process begins through maps. These redlining maps began as perpetrators of inequality, yet today have developed into catalysts for change, as identifying injustice is the first step to righting it. 



Hoffman, Jeremy S., Vivek Shandas, and Nicholas Pendleton. “The Effects of Historical Housing Policies on Resident Exposure to Intra-Urban Heat: A Study of 108 US Urban Areas.” Climate 8, no. 1 (January 2020): 12.

Jackson, Candace. “What Is Redlining?” The New York Times, August 17, 2021, sec. Real Estate.

Markley, Scott. “Federal ‘Redlining’ Maps: A Critical Reappraisal.” Urban Studies, July 7, 2023, 00420980231182336.

Plumer, Brad, Nadja Popovich, and Brian Palmer. “How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering.” The New York Times, August 24, 2020, sec. Climate.

U.S. Department of the Treasury. “Racial Differences in Economic Security: Housing,” October 26, 2023.

Wood, Denis, John Fels, and John Krygier. Rethinking the Power of Maps. New York: Guilford Press, 2010.


Atlas of the Week: Atlas of Prejudice

The Atlas of Prejudice is a compilation of maps which calls attention to the stereotypes of continents, countries, and other, smaller areas. This atlas does precisely what the name implies: it allows us to see our prejudices. By pointing out beliefs and misconceptions in a satirical and easily consumable manner, we are able to better accept (and then adjust) our biases, as well as to better understand the convictions of groups we are not a part of. The Atlas of Prejudice unabashedly reminds us that every map, regardless of the makers’ intent, has an agenda, inspiring individuals to look for preconceptions buried into each supposed fact they are told. 


Blog Link


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This is a map of Virginia showing the state’s slave population, information obtained from the 1860 census. Slavery had existed in Virginia since it’s beginning as a British colony, stretching back to 1619. By 1860, enslaved persons comprised around one-third of Virginia’s total population, numbering up to 500,000 enslaved people. For context, in 1860, there were about four million total enslaved persons in the United States, and 12.5% of those enslaved people lived in Virginia. However, when examining the map, it is visible that those 500,000 enslaved persons were not distributed evenly across the state. The western counties, for the most part, had minuscule percentages of enslaved persons comprising their populations, whereas the eastern counties had populations that were composed by significant percentages of enslaved persons.

This 1860 census map of Virginia is deserving of its status as map of the week for its contrast of factual objectivity with underlying tones of wartime propaganda, how it acts as a foreshadowing of historical events, and its relevance to the lives of Virginians today.

The historicity of the map is not up to debate. Unlike some other maps of the week, this map presents objective, data-driven information. The map is formed from census data collected by the United States government. What is interesting, though, is the reason this map was sold. For context, this map was issued June 16, 1861, two months following the start of the American Civil War. A portion of the perimap tells viewers that the map was “sold for the benefit of the sick and wounded of the U.S. Army.” This leads me to believe that the purpose of this map was not to inform citizens on the census tracts of Virginia, but instead to strengthen support for the Unionist cause against the Confederacy, as well as raising monetary support for the Union war effort. The map’s primary focus on enslaved people, established by the title “Map of Virginia Showing the Distribution of its Slave Population from the Census of 1860,” (with slave population being boldened to attract the eye of the viewer) seems unique, as enslaved people were, by law, not counted as full citizens in the apportionment of Congressional seats, nor extended American citizenship nor the rights afforded by thereof. While the belief in racial equality between white and black people was not prevalent in northern society, and white supremacy was still the societal norm in the north leading up to the American Civil War, abolitionism and attitudes opposed to the expansion westward of slavery were very much present in the north. Displaying the sheer expanse of slavery in a state bordering the Union, and so connected to Washington, D.C., could have been used to furtively suggest to unionists that the slavery in Virginia, and the Confederacy as a whole, could spread to the Union; this could have motivated Americans in the north to financially support the Union war effort.

This map acted as a foreshadowing of historical events. In 1863, West Virginia seceded from the Commonwealth of Virginia and was formally admitted to the United States of America. For context, the western region of Virginia did not rely on slavery to any comparable extent as did the central and eastern regions of the state, and the citizens living in the western region often felt underrepresented in the state legislature. Citizens in the western region of Virginia were broadly not in favor of the expansion of slavery, and were not in favor of secession from the Union. The stark contrast between the dark shading of the central and eastern regions of Virginia in relation to the overwhelming lightness, and for the most part, lack of shading in the west, allows for someone unaware of the domestic differences within Virginia to interpret that there was a noticeable discontinuity between the western region and the rest of the state.

The significance this map still has to the lives of Virginians today, especially black Virginians, is profound. Many black Americans are able to trace their lineages back to the counties their enslaved ancestors lived in. I, in particular, am able to trace my paternal lineage to Caroline County, Virginia, which had its total population comprised of 60.6% enslaved people; a majority. This map is a living representation of my enslaved ancestors.

This map relates to one of the earlier concepts we learned in FYS 100 Rhetorical Lives of Maps from Dennis Wood. Maps can be political and they assert propositions. Politically, this map was intended to produce anti-Confederate sentiment, and conversely, produce sentiment favoring the Union cause during the American Civil War.  This map asserts that Virginia is a slave state, and in many places has just as many enslaved people as it does free. It is a contradiction of the supposed desire of freedom from tyrannical government espoused by Virginian secessionists.

Bonus Information:

This shows information gathered from escaped slave records. Robert S. Wigglesworth, from whom my surname originates, held my ancestors in bondage in Caroline County, about 35 miles north of the University of Richmond.

Atlas of the Week: 

The ‘Historical Church Atlas’ is a collection of eighteen colored maps and fifteen sketch maps. The maps illustrate the history of eastern and western Christianity up to the reformation, and the Anglican Communion up to 1897. ‘The Historical Church Atlas’ was published by the London Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, so its purpose seems to spread uncommon knowledge of historical Christendom to contemporary Christians.

The Historical Church Atlas

Blog of the Week: 

This blog is a great site for finding wacky, obscure maps.

Strange Maps


Map of Virginia Showing the Distribution of its Slave Population from the Census of 1860

“Map of Virginia : Showing the Distribution of Its Slave Population from the Census of 1860.” The Library of Congress, Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.

“West Virginia Statehood, June 20, 1863.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.

“‘Runaway Slave’ Records: Virginia Open Data Portal.” Tyler Data & Insights,“runaway%20slave%20record%2C”,escape%20bondage%20to%20pursue%20freedom. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.

Posted on by Jacob Wigglesworth | 2 Comments

Utopia by Thomas More, 1518.

Utopia by Thomas More, 1518.

Have you ever been disappointed by the city you live in? Have you ever dreamed of living in a perfect city? A place you can find beautiful gardens on every street corner? Where every neighbor is your friend? Ever since the ancient Greeks lived in “Polis”, man has been dreaming of a perfect city. This image has gone through multiple transformations as civilization changes and is now widely known as “the Utopia”. The name “Utopia” comes from the Greek words “eu – topos” and “ou – topos”, which mean “good place” and “no place”. The name itself implies Utopia is never a realistic urban planning scheme but an idealistic and humanistic hope. As a voice of the Renaissance, the word “Utopia” was first addressed by Sir Thomas More as the title of his book, which created not only a city but an entire state. More’s utopia, as a prototype of all utopia images afterward, is designed in homage to classical Greek city states in many aspects and also incorporated the European scene in his time. Today, the Utopia is still an incredible bequest for urban planners and social reformers.

Utopia’s aims in urban design were to bring its inhabitants security and happiness.   Security came from the walls and from the political structure they contained; happiness from the subtle blending of rural and urban elements in a pleasant design. The city regions formed the basis of the island, surrounded by a circle of rural areas of “share houses or farms well appointed and furnished with all sorts of instruments belonging to husbandry”. Rural and urban societies were fully integrated by the system of rotating labor groups that annually 20 rural residents come to the city for service and are replaced by citizens after 2 years. The rotation between city life and country life implies More’s political ambition for an equal society where everyone fully participates in public life and contributes to the nation.

The capital city of Utopia is named Amaurotum, the “darkling city”, “city of clouds”. Amaurotum is nevertheless a city of gardens. Every house there looks alike and is enclosed by a large garden. “More makes sure of his garden city by educating garden citizens.” As a crucial component of city life, the Utopian citizens were encouraged and praised for growing vines, fruits, herbs, and flowers. “Their studies and diligence come not only of pleasure but also of certain strife and contention that is between strete and strete, concerning the trimming, husbanding, furnishing of their gardens: every man for his own part.” More has treated gardening as an important component of public affairs through which citizens of Utopia get educated and civilized.

One particular feature of Amaurotum that might confuse you is that it contains no private space. In the perfect city in More’s view, no distinctions are made between public and private space. “Doors are always open”. Constant participation and confrontation with public life is not an option but an imperative. Each city is around 24 miles from the other and can be reached on foot in a day. A perfect society in More’s view shall cultivate its citizens into perfect human beings. There would be no more disagreements, every person could coexist harmoniously. Such a  city is in need of no change, only expansion. When the demographic maximum capacity is reached in a city, people leave the original site and build a new yet identical one.

Despite the perfection More made to the city, traces of 16th-century London could be found everywhere in Amaurotum. More was born and raised in London. It’s claimed by his friend Erasmus that it’s More’s intention to create his dream city based on his homeland. Utopia is noted to be two hundred miles wide, equivalent to the breadth of England in the Saint Albans Chronicle, published in 1515. And the Utopian channel is very likely derived from the English Channel, which More has traveled across several times to visit the continent. The number of urban regions in Utopia is 54, very close to the amount of administrative units in the mid 16 century England. The idea of an isolated island itself may come from the unique geography of England. The 15-16 century European environment in which More lived hasn’t yet possessed any organized form of modern cities. “They existed by the sheer juxtaposition of houses and their connection with the streets or squares. It was a pure topological distribution.” As a patriot, it might have been a wish of More’s to realize his plan for Utopia in England one day.

As it is portrayed on the map, Utopia is an isolated island distant from human civilization, a completed garden of Eden where no reformation or revolution would ever take place. The citizens don’t need to cope with the complexity and unpredictability of everyday life. This imaginary scheme originated from his idealistic view of humanity that if well taught, all man could possess virtue and morality. As a modern audience, would you agree with More’s idealistic idea about humanity? Or would there be untamable demons lying beneath which nowhere even the Utopia could calm?

You must have noticed that the map itself looks quite different from typical maps we’re familiar with. There’s no data or measurement, only a few descriptions… Actually the “map” is a picture of Utopia’s front matter. Sir More intentionally used a map as his book cover, which was quite an innovation at his time. And this tradition has been inherited throughout the multiple editions of Utopia til now. A couple of modern version of the Utopia map is exhibited below. The ongoing updating of Utopia vision serves as a perspective for us to see not only Sir More’s philosophy for a perfect city, but also the ideas of people who lived in different times, different areas of the world, and different cultures.


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Map of Narnian world as described in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The original map of the hundred acre wood, published in the opening end-papers of the 1926 first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh

I would like to introduce a couple more maps showing people’s fantasies about the worlds they want to live in. The map of Winnie the Pooh and The Chronicles of Narnia both created a world for children to explore different possibilities outside everyday life and modern civilization. They’re certainly much less organized than Utopia, nevertheless, the creativity and hope for a better world are consistent.



Hutchinson, S. (1987). Mapping Utopias. Modern Philology, 85(2), 170–185.

J. Rawson Lumby, edit.: Utopia (Cambridge, 1883); Edward Surtz and J. H. Hexter, edits.: The Complete Works of St. Thomas More: Volume 4, Utopia (New Haven, 1965). The text of this latter work is also included in a paperback edition, Edward Surtz (edit.): St. Thomas More: Utopia (New Haven, 1964).

Lewis Mumford, The City in History (New York, 1961), p. 325.3

Goodey, B. R. (1970). Mapping “Utopia”: A Comment on the Geography of Sir Thomas More. Geographical Review, 60(1), 15–30.

J. Rawson Lumby, edit.: Utopia (Cambridge, 1883); Edward Surtz and J. H. Hexter, edits.: The Complete Works of St. Thomas More: Volume 4, Utopia (New Haven, 1965). The text of this latter work is also included in a paperback edition, Edward Surtz (edit.): St. Thomas More: Utopia (New Haven, 1964), p. 75

“The Descrypcon of Englande” is included at the end of “Cronycle of Englande….by one sometyme scole mayster of St. Albans (London, 1515).

Erwin A. Gutkind: Urban Development in Central Europe, 1964, p. 176.

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Map Of The Week: Carta Marina


When looking at the mystical creatures in the map above, we get a striking feeling of déjà-vu. We have all seen a map like this in one of the fantasy books we read as children. But this map is indeed a real map.

The Carta Marina et Descriptio Septemtrionalium Terrarum (Latin for Marine Map and Description of the Northern Islands) is one of the earliest maps to depict Scandinavia: it is the third map to portray the Nordic countries, and it is the first to give details about place names. The map was drawn by Swedish Catholic Ecclesiastic Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) between 1527 and 1539 while he was exiled in Rome, and was published in Venice. It is believed that Olaus arrived in Italy on a diplomatic mission on behalf of the Lutheran King Gustav I of Sweden, but stayed on because of his brother Johannes’s religious feud with Swedish authorities. Due to their Catholic attachments, both Olaus and Johannes were banished by the reformed Church of Sweden and later enjoyed successful careers in Italy.

The Carta Marina is a large-scale map that measures 5.5 feet by 7.5 feet, and that is divided into 9 parts ranging from A to I from left to right. It uses latitudes and longitudes to measure distances, and its perimap contains lines of longitudes and latitudes, the title of the map, what appears to be a family tree, and a passage of text. It is an intriguing and meticulous historical, geographical piece of art: it is precise. It provides a vivid and detailed portrayal of Northern Europe, especially the Scandinavian region. It includes detailed coastlines; depiction of cities; towns and villages; accurate place name;, mountains and rivers. During this era, the Carta Marina served as a valuable reference for sailors and travelers especially as the region started gaining increased interest due to the Scandinavian countries’ strategic location and natural resources: in the 16th century, the Nordic countries were home to a number of important trade routes, and they also possessed valuable natural resources such as timber, iron, and copper.

The Carta Marina was made at the beginning of the Age of Discovery, when a residual belief in fantastic beings such as unicorns and hybrid human-animal races such as mermaids, still persisted in the European imagination. As a result, the map abounds with imaginary sea characters such as the Kraken which was said to be so large that it could wrap its tentacles around entire ships; giant sea serpents that were a common feature of medieval and Renaissance maps and who were thought to be the largest creature on Earth; and sea monsters that were thought to inhabit the uncharted and undiscovered waters of the world, and were used to represent dangers. The inclusion of sea monsters and mythical creatures shows that much of the world’s phenomena weren’t discovered or explained yet. But that is not all. The map also shows a variety of marine activities, commercial traffic, fishing, the measuring of water depth, boats in distress, a fisherman casting his net, a sea monster attacking a ship, a group of sailors singing and dancing, and a historical battle scene, which is unusual for the time. It is believed that Olaus Magnus likely included those elements in the map to promote Scandinavia as a maritime power and assert Scandinavian sovereignty over the Arctic Sea.

In his map, Olaus Magnus included depictions of indigenous people of the North. This cultural insight is extremely valuable as it offers us and people far from Scandinavia in that period a window into their customs and ways of life: their dressing, their dwelling – in tents, huts, … -, their subsistence habits – hunting, fishing, … -, their religious habits. He also, as a Catholic Ecclesiastic, incorporated religious elements into the Carta Marina. We can observe depictions of saints and churches, reflecting the importance of the Church in the context of the time. Some other religious ideas were related to the presence of sea monsters in the sea: the scary creatures were also used to show that every being, no matter how imperfect, was a creation of God and played a role in the providential order. These ideas helped maintain a balance in the world and in the larger cosmos.

I chose this map for my post because, on top of its unmatched precision, the Carta Marina map is an interdisciplinary map that bridges history, geography, art, culture, cartology – the creation of carts and maps – and religion. The Carta Marina is also a fascinating reminder of the power maps have to tell stories that transcend time and place. The Carta Marina speaks to the universal human experience of exploration and discovery. It is a map that not only depicts the physical landscape of Scandinavia but also the cultural and intellectual landscape of people who lived there. The map is a testament to the power of maps to transport us to different worlds and different times.

The Carta Marina will remain a chef d’œuvre of Renaissance and Medieval cartography and an amalgamation of geology, art, and sociology: it serves as a testimony to the spirit of exploration that defined the 16th century, and the innate sense of curiosity in human beings.

Nordström, Tore. Olaus Magnus: Gothus Archipiscopus Upsaliensis. Samfundet Pro Fide et Christianismo, 1993.
Larsson, Lars-Olof. “Olaus Magnus och hans karta”. Atlantis, Vol. 50, 1978, pp. 8-78.
Larsson, Lars-Olof. “Olaus Magnus och hans karta”. Atlantis, Vol. 50, 1978, p. 63.

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