David Rumsey collection: mapping history I

David Rumsey’s gigantic collection of historical and modern maps, schematics, timelines, data visualisations, diagrams, history, time, sciences, religion is a never-ending source of wonder and inspirations. It is a bit of a trap, as I can spend days wandering around in the magical world of visualisations of history, science, culture, religion.

Looking at the older time-space maps, it is an adventure on multiple levels: you can discover a lot about how scientists and artists related to the world around them and how they found relations between subjects.

We struggle with handling time-space relations today too, might be good to know that this has been going on for thousands of years, really (I have a specific post on The Hereford mappa mundi, the oldest surviving map of space, time and events.).

There will be more posts based on this magical collection and the wonderful work of Cartography Associates, here are just some I find intriguing.

Published under a Creative Commons license, you can download maps in very large formats.

Click them for large formats!

1854: Geographical distribution of indigenous vegetation

A full-colour lithograph that shows vegetation in  Andes, Teneriffe, Himalaya, Alps & Pyrenees and Lapland. Inset charts: Regions of altitude corresponding to isothermal zones — Graphical statistics of the most important families of plants.

1858: Tableau De L’Histoire Universelle (Eastern Hemisphere)

A “tableau” of the history of the eastern hemisphere. Mapping the empires, battles, power-shifts. The side columns (vignettes) contains images of buildings, people, historical scenes and important places in the history of the world.


1890: Nord-Ouest: Paris Et Ses Environs

A wildly detailed map of the geological formations of Paris.


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