Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Goode's World Atlas, 1933

At a recent used book sale, or maybe it was an estate sale, I scored a vintage copy of Goode's World Atlas!

Now, Goode's has long been the standard school atlas for university Geography types, and is currently in its twenty-second edition. I do not doubt that all my students from the late 90s, especially Yankee In England, frequently and fervently consult their copy of the 19th edition that they had to buy for my class. What makes this particular Goodes cool, of course, is that it is, as we say, "vintage":

Eighty years ain't nothing in geological time, of course, and even some of the global-scale human patterns don't change much over the course of a single lifetime:

And the natural world, of course, doesn't change much on such a short time scale. Doesn't change... much.

The political world has plenty of time to buckle and shift, though. There are plenty of people still kicking who remember back in elementary school when, for the British, everything in red was "ours."

How big was a country? It depended on how you measured it -- and there were a lot fewer of 'em.

The economic world map has changed just as profoundly as the political world map, of course. Except you don't see nearly as many economic world maps as you used to.

Which is a shame. These old-school "data visualizations," as the kids these days are calling maps and graphs, get kicked around by cartographic theorists for having, you know, reified the conservative status quo and what-not. That's nonsense, or at best makes a lot of assumptions about how the maps are being used and how people are thinking about them. What those maps did was pack a lot of information into a easily comprehensible image. Whether the viewer used that information to critique, celebrate, or subvert the conservative status quo was up to them; at least they knew what was going on.

What I'm saying is: old atlases are cool.


Elaine said...

When I see the African continent now, I still think 'Belgian Congo, French Equatorial Africa, etc.' Once came across an old globe in an antique shop and was able to show my kids part of the world that has been...renamed....

KarmaSartre said...

It's cool that so many Citrous Fruits are produced in the oceans.

Yankee in England said...

I don't even remember having an atlas for your class and I am thinking maybe I didn't because I remember pulling down all the wall maps in the class room to fill out the cheat sheets for the country quizes. I do remember having to read Snow Crash I hated every page of it. It was better second time around when it was not enforced reading. I also remember a book of short articles about cultural topics. I specifially remember an article about there being more women in goverment in Pakistan or maybe it was Afghanistan than in the US.