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K-State Libraries

1850-1899

During the latter half of the 19th century, geography continued to be included in American schools as a separate subject. It was taught in elementary as well as secondary schools.

Illustrations and maps became more detailed and color was added to many books. Content during this period is highly reflective of the times in which they were published, presenting a variety of biases and topics acceptable to the American audience.

Atlases and gazetteers, some general (such as the World Atlas) and some specific (such as the Biblical Gazetteer) appear to have developed along with maps and geography textbooks.



Cornell, 1872 Sarah Sophie Cornell, Cornell's High School Geography (New York: D. Appleton & Company), 1872. New Edition (1st edition published in 1856)
Spec / In-Process


Monteith, 1872James Monteith, Comprehensive Geography: Local, Physical, Descriptive, Historical, Mathematical, Comparative, Topical, and Ancient (New York: A. S. Barnes & Company), 1872.
Spec / In-Process


Hall, 1875, p. 76 Hall, 1875, p. 77 Mary L. Hall, Our World, No. II: A Second Series of Lessons in Geography (Boston: Ginn Brothers), 1875.
Spec / In-Process


Cornell, 1882, p. 79 Cornell, 1882, p. 78 Sarah Sophie Cornell, Cornell's Physical Geography (New York: D. Appleton and Company), 1882.
Spec / GB 53 / .C67 / 1882

First published in 1870, Cornell was among the first women geographers in the U.S.. The maps in this volume by her mentor, Adolph von Steinwehr, were replaced in subsequent editions with maps by Cornell herself. This ethnographic map accompanies text which is surprisingly accurate and unbiased.




Sadlier, 1887 A Catholic Teacher, Sadlier's Excelsior Geography (New York: William H. Sadlier), 1887.
Spec / G127 / .S12 / 1887 / Folio

First published in 1875. This is a fine example of the geography texts available in 19th century parochial schools. Because of rabid anti-Catholic sentiments in 19th century America, many of the available texts were extremely biased against Catholics and therefore unsuitable for Catholic schools.

Shown here is an excellent example of map drawing technique using a uniform scale.




Niagra Falls, 1895, p.12 Niagra Falls, 1895, p.85 A New Guide to Niagara Falls and Vicinity (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Company), 1895.
Spec / F127 / .N8 / R36 / 1895

Tourist books began in Europe in the early 19th century. They continued to remain popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Maps, photographs, and engravings provided the traveler with information about site seeing opportunities, lodging, and dining. With increasing access to the Internet, American travel guides are waning in popularity, as much of the information available in guides can be found quickly and usually without cost.




Smith, 1898 Benjamin E. Smith (1857-1913), The Century Atlas of the World (New York: The Century Company), 1898.
Spec / In-Process

120 double-page maps, 145 corner (or insert) maps, and 40 historical maps make this one of the most influential atlases of the 19th century. U.S. imperialism in the Pacific and territorial expansion as a result of the Spanish- American War "made it desirable that The Century Company should show with greater detail the regions affected by these events." (preface, p. [ii])



Terra Incognita

The interior of Africa continued to be a mysterious or "dark" place to the Western world until the early 20th century. European colonial powers frequently discouraged geographers with tales of cannibalism, impassable deserts, dense jungles, and ferocious animals. By doing so, they protected their imperialist goals within the continent.

In these three maps, all published within 26 years of each other, many of the features of Africa were unknown to American geographers. Note the similarities of the two maps published in the 1870s, but also note the improvements in the map published in Frye's 1896 textbook.



Maury, 1870 Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873), Manual of Geography (New York: University Publishing Company), 1870.
Spec / In-Process


Smith, 1870Smith, 1870 Mary Howe Smith, The Earth and Its Inhabitants: Intermediate Geography (New York: Charles Scribner and Company), 1870.
Spec / In-Process


Frye, 1896 Alex Everett Frye (1859-1936), Primary Geography (Boston: Ginn & Company), 1896.
Spec / In-Process






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