Review: Mapping Indiana 

Five centuries of treasures from the Indiana Historical Society

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5 stars 

Maps have been my lifelong passion. I'm less reticent about this confession now that Paula Scher has 'fessed up' in the Feb. 29, 2016 New Yorker magazine. If Scher, creator of the iconic Citibank logo amongst others, can say she first heads to the map section upon entering a bookstore, I too can even add that's where I head in any antique shop — to the box with old state maps, the walls with framed maps mercilessly purloined from old atlases, the corners reserved for outdated globes.

So expect me to be partial to the exquisite map exhibit at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. I've snatched every opportunity to circle the 4th floor Rosemary McKee Lanham Gallery to revisit the 30 maps on display and gain tidbits of data about the mapmakers and the events that propelled the making of that particular map. My favorites keep changing — the fanciful depiction of the United States as an eagle in flight; the geography of Abraham Lincoln's life; the early routes — by Indian trails, roads, rail lines, bicycle routes for the serious enthusiast. And the maps that bring sadness because all this comes at the expense of displacing the people who made this place their home centuries before we made it ours.

It's worth the trip to be in the presence of these originals, carefully exhibited so as not to compromise their integrity as precious keepsakes. And then you can head down to the Basile History Market to examine — and purchase—the truly magnificent hardcover book that measures 17"x13", weighs at least five pounds and has over 100 maps covering 320 pages.

When we speak of "poring over a book," this is the essence. I've bypassed many vacuuming and dusting "moments" to "pore over" Mapping Indiana: Five Centuries of Treasures from the Indiana Historical Society and I suspect the lure will continue as I reread the overview introductory chapters by Donald Cresswell and Nicole Etcheson.

To name a few, specialized maps depict daily weather; where our writers were born; how Frances Slocum came to a Miami Indiana village, married and made a lasting contribution to who we are. Topical maps take us along changing travel routes, provide bird's eye-views of towns, villages, cities; show our geological makeup and our historical progression.

The book represents only a part of the maps collection housed in the IHS William Henry Smith Memorial Library.


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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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