Monday, November 29, 2021

On Display in the State Library

This month, our featured collection item is a fun map found in our Special Collections holdings. A Pictorial Map of the New England States, U.S.A. is by renowned cartographer Ernest Dudley Chase and dates to 1939. It shows, in great detail, the six states that comprise New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

If you were looking for a topographical map of New England, or a map that would show you how to get from point A to point B, you may want to look elsewhere. But this map is an excellent example of an illustrated map, which takes a more artistic, and less technical approach to cartography. Towns and cities are identified within each state and are accompanied by a drawing of an important building or landmark associated with that location. New England’s many lighthouses dot the coastline and various sailing vessels are found in the Atlantic. A fun aspect of this map is that sprinkled throughout it are illustrations of activities that can be enjoyed in that area; take a close look to see drawings of ice fishing at Sebago Lake in Maine, sunbathing at Falmouth on Cape Cod, and skiing in Gorham, Vermont. These are just a few examples, what other drawings do you spot within the map? Additionally, along the outer edges of the map are slightly larger drawings of important buildings with a title identifying their name and location, and found on the perimeter of the map, distinguishable by oval frames, are drawings of each state’s capital building - including our very own State House. 

Detail image of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Ernest Dudley Chase was a prolific illustrator and cartographer from the early to mid-1900s. The State Library holds several of his maps in our collection, and we hope to have them all available digitally in the future, but for now a full list of our Chase holdings can be found here. As you can see, his maps were not limited to New England, but include world maps, other locations within the United States, European countries, and themed maps. 

For a high-resolution version of this New England map, please click here to explore the copy in Harvard’s map collection. There is a lot of detail to be found on this map, each time you look at it you can find something new! Zoom in on this digital version to see all of the intricate drawings - buildings, activities, landmarks - that make New England such a special place to live or visit.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian