Thursday, December 1, 2011


A new permanent exhibition of antique maps has just opened on the second floor of the CSU Dominguez Hills University Library. Entitled "Where Are You From?" the exhibition documents the vast information that be gleaned from maps. Looking for New Granada? Since it is now the country of Columbia you probably can't readily find it on MapQuest, although it is represented on a map now on display in the library. Need to find where Russian Tartary or "Hindoostan" was? You can find them in the exhibition. With 15 maps dating from 1747 to 1946, the exhibition covers the entire world. These maps show how the world was viewed throughout the last 250 years and surprise the viewer with accuracy as well as inaccuracy and whimsy. They invite praise for their art and design, confusion when a familiar place is named something else and serve as a gateway for critical thinking.

The exhibition features one 1847 map that shows the Mexican border reaching Oregon while another 100 years earlier is unable to show Northern Canada and Alaska because the map stated that they haven't been discovered yet. Many of the maps focus on Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, while others focus on California and Los Angeles. One 1788 map shows the Philippines and Borneo. While many of the maps were used to chart courses, others were created for fun and education(Jo Mora's California, 1945) and others were published to promote California tourism (Roads to Romance) or industrial locations (Unique Map of California). Some maps published before automobiles and without any need to chart a ship, were created for an atlas to teach physical geography.

One 1796 map has the longest title: “A general chart, on Mercator's projection, to shew the track of the Lion and Hindostan from England to the Gulph of Pekin in China, and of their return to England: with the daily statement of the barometer and thermometer as observed at noon: containing also the limits of the Chinese Empire as extended by the conquests of the present Emperor Tchien-Lung.”

Another map is entitled: “A New and Accurate Map of America drawn from the most approved modern Maps and Charts and adjusted by Astronomical Observations. Exhibiting the Course of Trade Winds both in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans,” 1747.

The maps are part of the Library's Archives and Special Collections Map Collection. Additional maps are on display in the on the fifth floor. The Library collaborated with the Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies Program (PEGS)to put the exhibition together. The maps can viewed during regular library hours.

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