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American Women: Resources from the Geography and Map Collections

Panoramic Maps

In the years following the Civil War, the panoramic map became a popular cartographic form for portraying American cities. Though generally not drawn to scale, these maps were based on detailed on-site studies and provide an accurate perspective view of landscape features, streets, and buildings of the period. They frequently show individual structures and their use, some of which are identified by gender, including schools and academies, hospitals, and seminaries for women. Panoramic Maps of Cities in the United States and Canada: A Checklist of Maps in the Collections of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, 2nd ed., compiled by John R. Hébert and revised by Patrick E. Dempsey, describes and gives the physical location of these views, some of which are housed in the Prints and Photographs Division. Frequently portrayed in the foreground of these decorative prints are male and female figures, sometimes in family groups and always in contemporary dress. The decorative borders of the maps often include engravings showing the larger homes and business structures of the town.

Denver Lith. Co. Bird's eye view of Denver, Colorado. 1908. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Information provided on panoramic maps helps us understand women's roles in that city or town at a particular point in time. Indentified on this panoramic view of Denver are a Woman's Friendly Club. Female proprietors of lodging in Denver include Mrs. E. F. Kane of Hotel Kane and Mary F. Smith of the Inland Inn. Cultrual sites such as an Opera House, the Baker Theater, and the vaudevillian Majestic Theatre [sic], and multiple piano companies and jewelry stores indicate that there was a sector of rteh population, including women, that was affluent enough to patronize these kinds of establishments.

Panoramic Maps: Digital Collection