ArticleTaking a look at the rainbows of our collection
June is Pride month for LGBTQ+ people, and the BPL has been celebrating. If you’ve been to the Central Library at Copley, which is now open to visitors, you’ve seen the large beautiful rainbow flags waving away in the wind. We don’t have flags at the Map Center, but we do have maps full of rainbows! Check out this handful of rainbow-y maps for some celebratory summer fun.
We’ll start with this pictorial map of the world on the Mercator projection by Ernest Dudley Chase. It features people and animals around the world, from polar bears in the north to penguins in the south, and includes several map monsters in the ocean as well as a beautifully detailed Chinese dragon. The rainbow in this map is in Greenland, and is perhaps supposed to mimic the colors of the Northern Lights!
Another of Chase’s pictorial Mercator maps has a rainbow on it as well. This map is about the history of transportation and communication, highlighting histories of movement from Jonah’s swallowing by a whale to the age of aviation. Here, the rainbow glows in front of the flags of the world, symbolizing “Peace on earth and goodwill to men.” The rainbow is used here not only as a symbol of peace and goodwill, but friendship and community among the nations of Earth.
Here’s a slightly more minimalist rainbow, in yellow, pink, and gray. This whole double hemisphere “New Map of the World” is all about connections between past and present. The eastern and western hemispheres are sort of connected by this arc across the sky, beneath the sun, as are the dinosaur on the left to the man on the right!
This geological map of the US was done by the State Geologist of Maine and later New Hampshire, Charles H. Hitchcock. From 1872, this map represents an increased interest in the geology of the area west of the Mississippi in the late 19th century. The map was completed for an 1870 statistical atlas of the US and uses incredibly bright colors coded to different geologic time periods, from the pink representing the Eozoic (Precambrian), through the rainbow to the red representing the volcanic Cenozoic activity.
Last but certainly not least is our beloved Anciente Mappe of Fairyland, a Map Center favorite. This map comes out of a sketch initially drawn by the creator, Bernard Sleigh, for his kids. It incorporates Arthurian, mythological, and nursery rhyme characters as well as traditional fairies and other fairytale elements. The map was used both as a decortaion for nurseries and as a fabric. It also includes this beautiful double rainbow, which, along with the modern reclamation of the word “fairy,” makes this a particularly apt map for Pride. Have a wonderful rest of the month!
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