An Exceptional School Girl Map Pairing
An exceptional pair of hand drawn maps, drawn by Louisa H. Roys of Norfolk, Connecticut, in about 1815.
Depicting North America shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, but prior to the incorporation of the information from Lewis & Clark's expedition up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific Ocean, the map precisely illustrates the known (United States) and unknown Transmississippi West in early part of the 19th Century.
The map notes that Louisa Roys was a student of Sarah Reeder. Reeder and her maps were known to survive at the end of the 19th Century. The following is excepted from History of Norfolk, Litchfield County, Connecticut 1744-1900 (p. 274)
. . . The first lady teacher of whom I have record is a Miss Phoebe Guiteau . . . [who taught at the Select School] before 1800 . . . Between 1800 and 1819 Mrs. Sarah Reeder was the most prominent teacher,——a talented and accomplished lady, whose select school was well patronized, and the maps dated and made by the scholars have come down to this day. . . .
The tradition of "school girl" map drawing in America dates to the early 19th Century. The tradition provided that school girls would become proficient in copying maps as a means of learning penmanship and geography.
The execution of this map is quite fine. Drawn on Whatman Turkey paper, the decorative flower garland surrounding the title is finely executed and colored.
Cartographically, the map is a meticulous copy of Robert Wilkinson's maps of North America (1808) and South America (1806),
The choice is quite fortuitous. Wilkinson's map incorporates Aaron Arrowsmith's 1802 map of North America, the only map brought on the expedition and was consulted by Lewis & Clark at various points in the first leg of their journey in search of the headwaters of the Missouri. As such, the details of the Upper Missouri, portages across the Rocky Mountains, and treatment of the Pacific Northwest is quite interesting. Similarly, the mapping of South America depicts the continent on the eve of several decades of chaos, revolution and independence from Spain and later Portugal.
Provenance: The maps were previously offered for sale by G.B. Manasek in 1994 ($3800 for the pair). The maps came with a note suggesting that the maps were done between 1820 and 1825, but it would seem from the choice of maps and Sarah Reeder's biographical data that the maps were more likely drawn a bit earlier.