Emma Willard’s Maps of Time
In the 21st-century, infographics are everywhere. In the classroom, in the newspaper, in government reports, these concise visual representations of complicated information have changed the way we imagine our world. Susan Schulten explores the pioneering work of Emma Willard (1787–1870), a leading feminist educator whose innovative maps of time laid the groundwork for the charts and graphics of today.
We live in an age of visual information. Infographics flood the web, driven by accessible platforms that instantly translate information into a variety of graphic forms. News outlets routinely harvest large data sets like the census and election returns into maps and graphs that profile everything from consumer preferences to the political landscape. The current proliferation of visual information mirrors a similar moment in the early nineteenth century, when the advent of new printing techniques coincided with the rapid expansion of education. Schoolrooms from the Atlantic seaboard to the Mississippi frontier made room for the children of farmers as well as merchants, girls as well as boys. Together, these shifts created a robust and highly competitive market for school materials, including illustrated textbooks, school atlases, and even the new genre of wall maps.
No individual exploited this publishing opportunity more than Emma Willard, one of the century’s most influential educators. From the 1820s through the Civil War, Willard’s history and geography textbooks exposed an entire generation of students to her deeply patriotic narratives, all of which were studded with innovative and creative pictures of information that sought to translate big data into manageable visual forms.
Read more here: Emma Willard’s Maps of Time – The Public Domain Review