The following post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.
Following World War I, the United States and the Empire of Japan competed for power and prestige in Southeast Asia. Both nations had secured islands from the defeated German Empire in the South Pacific and had established interests elsewhere in Asia, such as the Japanese occupation of Korea and Manchuria and the American presence in the Philippines. As their ambitions grew, the nations steadily headed on a collision course that resulted in them fighting in World War II when the Japanese launched an attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Two key factors that led to war in the Pacific were Japanese expansion in China and the subsequent American embargo on Japan. With tensions mounting, the American government, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, directed the FBI to research the interests and activities of potential foes, namely the Japanese Empire and Nazi Germany. The bureau produced an atlas in 1935 titled “Japanese Pre-War Colonization”. The work displays four Japanese-language maps that are accompanied by maps that translate the content into English.
Perhaps the most important map in the atlas concerns the Japanese presence in Southeast Asia. The map depicts locations and numbers of Japanese nationals, as well as Japanese commercial interests, consulates, resources and shipping routes.
By 1935, some 36,134 Japanese lived throughout Southeast Asia, and of them, some 21,468 lived in the Philippines and were in engaged in the lumber and fishing industries. On the Indonesian island of Celebes, today known as Sulawesi, the Japanese owned and operated the Borneo Petroleum Co. Elsewhere, Japanese firms mined iron and manganese. Access to these resources was critical to the Japanese economy and military, as Japan has few natural resources of its own.
Commerce in Southeast Asia was critical to Japan. The empire was furiously importing rubber, hemp, diamonds, gold, tin, coal, and petroleum from throughout the region. It was also importing silk, cotton, pepper, salt, rice, sugar, tobacco, fish and other goods. Japanese shipping companies had developed a network between islands in the Southeast Pacific and Japan.
Before the start of World War II, more than a million Japanese were living abroad. Among them, some 112,418 lived in the United States. The FBI was concerned that among them were potential spies and saboteurs. The belief was rooted in the American experience during World War I when the Germans either dispatched spies and saboteurs to the United States or recruited German nationals or German-Americans for such clandestine operations.
The full extent to which these maps were directly used once the US entered World War II in 1941 is unclear; however, they speak to the US Government’s long-running suspicions of the Japanese Empire at the time.
Every month on our home page, we provide a monthly list of maps that have been scanned and added to the online collections of the Geography and Map Division. To celebrate the end of the year and to ring in the new, I took a look back at the lists of maps that have been scanned this past year and chose just a few to share with you!
In January, a copy of the first map engraved in New England was scanned and placed online. Made in 1677 with north oriented to the right, this map has been attributed to John Foster, who printed William Hubbard’s Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians, in which this map appeared. It is also the first map known to have been published in the English colonies of North America.
A map from the April scan list also grabbed my attention. In 1831, Joseph Hutchins Colton founded a map making company in New York City which became internationally renowned. I first paused at this map, published in 1855 by J.H. Colton & Company, due to the unexpected spelling of “Kanzas.” At the time, Kansas and neighboring Nebraska were newly established territories of the United States, with each of them becoming states in the 1860s. The name “Kansas” derives from the Kaw Nation, a Native American tribe indigenous to the region that is also known as the “Kanza.” In addition to this interesting toponym, as I looked closer at the map, I enjoyed looking at the fine details and the intricate shading of the map.
The collections of the Geography and Map Division have a global reach, as exemplified in the maps below that caught my eye. The beautifully illustrated Chinese Lighthouse Chart, published by H.C. Müller in 1894, was compiled from British Admiralty charts and shows not only the ranges of visible light from lighthouses along the China coast, but also the patterns of the light signals. The other map below, titled A New and exact mapp of the island of Jamaica, was published in 1684 by Charles Bochart and Humphrey Knollis. With the high-resolution scans available, I can zoom in close and appreciate the level of detail that can be seen in both maps.
No collection of highlights of this year’s newly scanned items would be complete without including the Codex Quetzalecatzin, an extremely rare Mesoamerican manuscript. Read all about this incredible piece in our Worlds Revealed blog post on the codex from November.
Take a look yourself through what has been scanned this year or check back every month of the new year for an updated list of the scanned items added to the online collections of the Geography and Map Division. With over 6 million maps in the collection, including the newly scanned panoramic map below, there is still plenty of scanning to do in the coming year!
This is part of a series of guest posts from Ed Redmond, Cartographic Specialist in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, documenting the cartographic history of maps related to the American Civil War, 1861-1865. The posts will appear on a regular basis.
Despite the ongoing ravages of the war, as 1861 drew to a close, many northerners seemed to be optimistic, at the very least, about the safety of the Union capital, Washington, D.C. Published as a supplement to The New York Times of Saturday, December 7, 1861, the newspaper map below focuses on northeastern Virginia and the fortifications surrounding Washington. The editors of the Times describe the map as follows:
The interest which attached to the military operations of the National Army has induced us to present the readers of the Times with the very complete and accurate map of the impregnable lines on the Virginia side of the National Capitol. These masterly defenses sweep from the neighborhood of Great Falls, ten miles above Washington, southward to Accotink Creek, fifteen miles below the City;…The principal permanent fortifications, which the rebels, if they attempt them, will find to be an impassable barrier to their ambitious designs upon the Capital have been enumerated by the General Orders of General McClellan but are, for the first time, located and named on the present map.
Despite the optimistic views expressed in The New York Times of December 7, 1861 regarding the “National Army” and its “masterly defenses” of Washington, D.C., numerous battles in the region in the closing months of the year tested that confidence. In October, Confederate forces defeated Federal troops under the command of Major General George B. McClellan at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, about 30 miles from Washington, D.C. in Loudoun County, Virginia. On December 20th, the Battle of Dranesville brought the war even closer to the capital (about 15 miles away in Fairfax County, Virginia), but Union forces were victorious, with both sides suffering relatively low casualties.
A number of detailed battle maps preserved at the Library of Congress and the Virginia Historical Society give us a clear picture of how the Battle of Dranesville unfolded. Robert Knox Sneden was a prolific map-maker for the Union Army, and his map of Dranesville (above) was one of his first of the war. Sneden would later be captured by Confederate troops in 1863 and detained in Andersonville Prison, which he would later map as well. H.H. Strickler of the Office of the Chief of Engineers of U.S. Army would produce this detailed map below of the Battle of Dranesville years after the war in 1875.
Where is the lowest point on dry land? Or the northernmost inhabited point on earth? How about the highest city? All of these questions and many more will be unraveled in this new occasional series, Extremities of the Earth, created to explore the farthest reaches of our planet.
For this inaugural post for the series, I found myself fascinated by the most remote inhabited island in the world: Tristan da Cunha. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, this small island with a 25-mile circumference is farther away from the next outpost of humanity than any other inhabited place in the world. About 1,200 miles away from the island of St. Helena and 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, Tristan da Cunha (colloquially known simply as Tristan) is home to 256 people. The island is part of an archipelago of six small islands, with Tristan being the only permanently inhabited one.
It is believed that the island was first sighted by Admiral Tristao da Cunha, pictured below, in 1506, as he and his crew were sailing from Portugal to the east coast of Africa. However, it was not until 1643 that the first recorded landing took place by the crew of the Dutch vessel Heemstede.
Due to its location, Tristan was a convenient place for ships to resupply on long sea voyages from Europe to Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Although the first large-scale charts of the archipelago were created by the Dutch in 1656, the islands can be seen marked on earlier maps, such as on this portolan chart from 1633 by Pascoal Roiz. Can you spot the island of Tristan da Cunha on this map?
The first attempt at settlement of the island was made in 1810 by Jonathan Lambert of Salem, Massachusetts, who arrived on the island with three other men. Lambert became the self-proclaimed “ruler” of the island. His reign was short, however, as Lambert and two of the other men drowned while on a fishing expedition in 1812. The expedition’s one survivor, Thomas Curry, was left to continue farming on Tristan, but he was soon joined by several more settlers. In 1816, the United Kingdom annexed the archipelago and a garrison of British troops was sent to secure Tristan, although the troops were soon recalled in 1817. Several men led by Corporal William Glass decided to remain and settle on the island, becoming the ancestors of many of today’s islanders.
As seen in the map above, there is only one town on the island, officially named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas but locally known simply as the Settlement. This is the only relatively flat plain on the island, with the remainder dominated by Queen Mary’s Peak, an active volcano and the highest island mountain in the South Atlantic Ocean. In 1961, a volcanic eruption forced residents to evacuate the island, moving temporarily to England. The majority of Tristan residents chose to return in 1963.
Today, the social and economic organization of the island is much the same as it was set up by William Glass in 1817. All land is communally owned and all Tristan families are farmers at least part-time, working on family plots of land in an area known as the Patches. Anyone interested in visiting the island today must receive prior approval by the island Administrator. Although it is the most isolated settlement in the world, Tristan da Cunha remains a vibrant and successful community.
I look forward to sharing further explorations of the farthest edges of the earth with you in future posts!
The following post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.
In the morning hours of December 7, 1941, 76 years ago today, the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a stunning and destructive attack on the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. On that “date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked, hundreds of Japanese planes attacked in waves. Four American battleships were sunk and four others damaged. Among the battleships lost was the USS Arizona, which was destroyed by armor-piercing bombs that killed 1,177 crewman, accounting for nearly half of the total death toll of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many cruisers, destroyers, and other ships were damaged along with land installations and aircraft. With a portion of the American Pacific Fleet left burning, the nation was shocked and outraged. That same day, Japanese forces attacked American bases in the Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island, and British bases in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Fortunately, for the United States, the defeat at Pearl Harbor was not fully a strategic one. The American aircraft carriers, which the Japanese intended to target, were at sea. Task Force Eight, headed by the USS Enterprise, was about two hundred miles west of Pearl Harbor. Task Force Twelve, led by the USS Lexington, was approximately 460 miles from Midway Island. The USS Saratoga was based at San Diego. Carriers were essential for protecting surface vessels, including mighty battleships, from air attack. No modern navy could be effective without them.
The Japanese plan was to temporarily paralyze the U.S. fleet while Japanese troops waged actions to seize and consolidate territory throughout Asia and Oceania. War soon followed. The United States recovered from the loss of ships and avenged the sailors, marines, and soldiers who were killed at Pearl Harbor. By 1945, the Japanese Empire was defeated and it surrendered September 2, which is referred to as V-J Day (“Victory over Japan Day”).
After the war ended, the U.S. Senate launched an inquiry into the Pearl Harbor attack. The eight senators involved explained that the investigation had been delayed until that point because the country had been at war. Previously, President Roosevelt ordered an investigation under the direction of the Supreme Court, which found the military base commanders at Pearl Harbor were ill-prepared. Rumors also circulated that President Roosevelt was determined to draw the nation into the war and had left Pearl Harbor unguarded in order to bait the Japanese into a war. The senators hoped to resolve the “contradictions and inconsistencies” of the preceding reports and information.
From November 1945 through May of 1946, the committee heard testimony from 44 people, including top level military commanders and diplomats. The hearing transcripts filled more than 5,000 printed pages and included some 14,000 pages of printed exhibits, including the map featured in this blog. It depicts the location of American warships at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stamped “Top Secret,” the map was declassified in 1946. The map’s purpose was to illustrate the location of American ships and the fleet’s overall readiness.
The senators’ investigation determined that “the ultimate responsibility for the attack and its results rests upon Japan, and the diplomatic policies and actions of the United States provided no justifiable provocation whatever for the attack by Japan on this Nation.” The report stated that “officers, both in Washington and Hawaii, were fully conscious of the danger from air attack.” The military commanders made “errors of judgment and not derelictions of duty.” The investigation roundly rejected the claim that President Roosevelt and top advisors “tricked, provoked, incited, cajoled, or coerced Japan” into attacking the United States in order to draw the nation into war.
The following post is by Cynthia Smith, reference specialist in the Geography and Map Division.
Within the Geography and Map Division’s collections are 42 versions of Ptolemy’s Geography, which is a landmark atlas and treatise on geographic knowledge from the 2nd century, and an influential work in the study of geography and cartography thereafter. These versions are atlases published in the 15th and 16th centuries based off of Ptolemy’s original work from around 150 AD. One of these atlases in particular recently caught my attention: the 1535 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography edited by Michael Servetus. Denounced as a heretic in 1553, Servetus was burned at the stake along with many copies of his atlas. This copy is a rare edition that survived the widespread destruction of his works.
Michael Servetus was born in Spain. The year of his birth is unknown, though it is thought to be between 1509 and 1511. He studied medicine in Paris and became a respected and admired physician. He was the first physician in Europe to describe pulmonary circulation. In addition to his work as a physician, he was also knowledgeable in geography, as well as many other sciences.
In 1531, Servetus published a treatise titled “On the Errors of the Trinity.” He was considered a heretic by Christian religious authorities because of his denial of the existence of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). John Calvin, a French theologian and major figure in the Protestant Reformation, considered him an enemy and the two men often exchanged letters voicing their opposing theological views.
In 1535, Servetus published his atlas using the pseudonym Michel de Villeneuve. The atlas holds 50 woodcut maps, 35 of which have descriptions on the back. A map of the Holy Land is shown on Plate 41, seen below, while the text on the verso, below the map, describes it as an “inhospitable and barren land,” which was considered by the religious authorities to be blasphemous. Servetus was arrested and underwent trial in Geneva for his other religious writings but this text was used as evidence at his trial. Calvin asserted that the text had contradicted the description of the Holy Land in the Book of Exodus as a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
Servetus was convicted of heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake with his books. Ironically, the controversial passage was not original to Servetus but was simply copied by him from previous editions of Ptolemy’s Geography which were published in 1522 and 1525 by another physician named Laurent Fries.
The atlas held in the Geography and Map Division has water damage as well as black marks on many of the pages. My imagination led me to wonder if the black marks were possibly the results of a fire! However, my theory was disproved upon an inspection by Katherine Kelly, a conservator from the Preservation Directorate of the Library’s Conservation Division. She stated that the dark spots on the pages are from ink, printer error, a dirty printing plate, grime from handling and mold and water stains, but it shows no evidence that this Geography and Map Division copy was in a fire. Nevertheless, I was fascinated to discover the story behind this atlas and the controversies of its creator.
The Codex Quetzalecatzin, also known as the Mapa de Ecatepec-Huitziltepec, the Codex Ehecatepec and Huitziltepec, or the Charles Ratton Codex, is an extremely rare colored Mesoamerican manuscript and one of the most important indigenous manuscripts from the earliest history of the Americas to become available in recent years. Several months ago the Library Congress acquired this world treasure from a private collector in France, and has now made it available to the public digitally, allowing it to be seen and studied by scholars across the world, for the first time in more than a century.
As is typical for an Aztec, or Nahuatl, codex of this early date, it relates the extent of land ownership and properties of a family line known as “de Leon,” most of the members of which are depicted on the manuscript. With Nahuatl stylized graphics and hieroglyphs, it illustrates the family’s genealogy and their descent from Lord-11 Quetzalecatzin, who in 1480, was the major political leader of the region. It is from him the Codex derives one of its many names.
The manuscript dates from between 1570 and 1595, making it an extremely rare example of a pre-1600 indigenous American codex. It was created at a time when many cartographic histories were being produced both as a part of a Spanish royal investigation into the human and community resources in the Spanish colonies, and when indigenous families were trying to reassert their ancient land claims. These maps were largely made by indigenous painters and scribes, and that is reflected in the structure and make-up of the Codex Quetzalecatzin. Particular features that point to indigenous authorship include pre-Hispanic illustrative conventions, such as the symbols for rivers, roads and pathways, and of course hieroglyphic writing. The glosses on the manuscript, which utilize the Latin alphabet, are clues to its colonial-era composition, as are the names of some of the indigenous leaders such as “don Alonso” and “don Matheo.” Naming conventions such as these provide evidence that at least some indigenous elites were granted the Spanish title of nobility (“don”) and had been baptized with Christian names.
Like many Nahuatl codices and manuscript maps of the period it depicts a local community at an important point in their history. On the one hand, the map is a traditional Aztec cartographic history with its composition and design showing Nahuatl hieroglyphics, and typical illustrations. On the other hand, it also shows churches, some Spanish place names, and other images suggesting a community adapting to Spanish rule. Maps and manuscripts of this kind would typically chart the community’s territory using hieroglyphic toponyms, with the community’s own place-name lying at or near the center. The present codex shows the de Leon family presiding over a large region of territory that extends from slightly north of Mexico City, to just south of Puebla. Codices such as these are critical primary source documents, and for scholars looking into history and ethnography during the earliest periods of contact between Europe and the peoples of the Americas, they give important clues into how these very different cultures became integrated and adapted to each others presence.
The form and color of the codex reflects many of the deep artistic stylizations found in indigenous books made throughout Mesoamerica and uses naturally extracted pigments and dyes, like Maya Blue, and cochineal, to create the bold coloring that strikes anyone who looks at the Codex. Color was an important element in all Nahuatl and Maya books and many early sources survive that narrate how they were prepared and used. Perhaps the most important source for our knowledge of the materials and plants used by ancient Americans in the design and construction of the codices comes from the Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana, compiled by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun around 1575-1577. His manuscript gives us deep clues on how the Codex Quetzalecatzin was made and painted and is now commonly known as the Florentine Codex.
The Codex Quetzalecatzin, because of its extreme rarity, and because of its relevance to the early history of European contact with the indigenous peoples of the Americas, is an important addition to the early American treasures at the Library of Congress. To get a sense of the manuscripts rarity, it should noted that only around 450 Mesoamerican pictorial manuscripts survive to the present day, and less than 100 pre-date 1600. The acquisition of this world treasure by the Library of Congress adds to the rare and world class indigenous manuscripts already in its collections, including the Oztoticpac Lands Map and the Huexotzinco Codex, and we look forward to its study by scholars everywhere.
Join us for GIS Day at the Library of Congress, Tuesday, November 14th, for a full day of talks highlighting GIS technology and its impact on the work of policymakers, researchers, and librarians on Capitol Hill and beyond!
The GIS Day morning session will feature a keynote address by Congressman Mark Takano, of California, on the use of GIS and geospatial data for policy in Congress, as well as a speech by Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas, on the importance of geospatial data.
The program will kick off at 9:15am in the Montpelier Room on the Sixth Floor of the Madison Building (101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, D.C.). The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov.
A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for storing, analyzing, manipulating and displaying digital data that is linked to positions on the Earth’s surface. GIS provides the modern basis for digital geographic analysis and map-making.
Taking place during Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day is an annual celebration of GIS technology observed by hundreds of events held around the world. Formally organized since 1999, GIS Day aims to provide a welcoming forum that promotes the benefits of GIS research, demonstrates real-world applications of GIS, and fosters open, idea-sharing and growth in the GIS community.
In addition to speeches by Congressman Takano and Congressman Westerman, the morning session will include presentations focused on the use of GIS technology in the work of the Senate, House of Representatives, and the Congressional Research Service.
Afternoon sessions for GIS Day will focus on how GIS and the “Story Map” narrative format are allowing Library of Congress researchers and specialists to harness geospatial technologies for the digital humanities. Following introductions on the topics GIS in digital humanities research and Story Map design, participants in the Library’s Story Map Pilot Project will present their Story Maps, which showcase collections from across the Library of Congress as well as demonstrate the use of web mapping technologies to enhance visual storytelling.
The event will conclude with tours of the Geography and Map Division’s collections, including the rare and valuable cartographic treasures of our vault.
GIS and Geospatial Data for Congress
8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.: Coffee Conversations
9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Welcome, Dr. Paulette Hasier, Chief Geography and Map Division
9:30 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. Mark Sweeney, Introduction of Keynote Speaker, Acting Deputy Librarian
9:40 a.m. to 10 a.m.: “GIS and Geospatial Data for Policy in Congress,” by Congressman Mark Takano, of California
10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: “Congressional Research Service’s Use of GIS for Congress” by Mary Mazanec, Director of the Congressional Research Service and the CRS GIS Team
10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.: Coffee break
10:45 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.: “Using GIS in the Senate,” by Timothy Petty, Deputy Legislative Director, Senator James E. Risch, of Idaho
11:10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: “Using GIS in the House of Representatives,” by Rae Best, House Librarian and Nick Schumate, House Library GIS specialist
11:30 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.: The Importance of Geospatial Data, by Congressman Bruce Westerman, of Arkansas
11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch
GIS for the Digital Humanities and Data Visualization at the Library of Congress
1 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.: “Introduction to GIS and Story Maps for the Digital Humanities,” by John Hessler, Specialist in modern cartography and GIS at the Library of Congress
1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: “Story Maps: Case Studies in Design,” by Owen Williams, ESRI
1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Story Map Pilot Project Presentations, by Library of Congress divisions, including:
Law Library of Congress
Geography and Map Division
Rare Book and Special Collections Division
Prints and Photographs Division
The American Folklife Center
Serial and Government Publications Division
3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.: Concluding remarks
3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Open House in the Geography and Map Division
Through this diverse program, we are excited to showcase the GIS resources available to Congress and further promote the value of GIS technology to the broader American public. We look forward to seeing you there!
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