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HowtoMakeMapsandInfluencePeople

Mapsareoneofthemosttrustedformsofcommunicationwhichmakesthemgreatforgettingyourpointacross.
Alookatthedarkartofcartographicpersuasion.
ByGeoffMcGhee
PUBLISHEDOctober22,2015

WarningSignThisBritishposterfrom1939warnsofGermaninvasionplans,accordingtoapurportedmapissuedbytheNazisin
1937.ThemapshowsBritainunderGermancontrolby1948.Whatmighthaveseemedhystericalatthetimejustafterthefallof
Polandwouldlatercomealltooclosetoreality.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

GeoffMcGheeisajournalistanddatavisualizeratStanfordUniversitysBillLaneCenterfortheAmericanWest.
DataPointsisanewserieswhereweexploretheworldofdatavisualization,informationgraphics,and
cartography.
Wedependonmapseverydaytonavigate,tochecktheweather,tounderstandtheworld.Perhapsbecause
mapstypicallydepicttherealworld,theyareoneofthemosttrustedformsofvisualcommunication.
"Mapshaveinherentcredibility.Wearetrainedsincechildhoodtorelyonmaps,"saysPaul"P.J."Mode,acollector
andamateurmaphistorian.Butthattrustcanbetakenadvantageof,hesays,bypeoplewhousemapstopromote
theirownpointofview.
Mode,whousesinfographicsextensivelyinhislawpractice,hasspentthepastthreedecadescollectingexamples
ofwhathecalls"persuasivecartography,"whichrangefromsatiricalcartoonswithgeographicalelementsand
politicallyloadedschoolroommapstovintagedatavisualizationsthatwouldnotbeoutofplaceontheInternet
today.

TheIndiesmustbefree!ADutchposterurgingtheliberationoftheNetherlandsformerIndonesiancoloniesduringWorldWarTwo.
Notsurprisingly,wartimepropagandaisacommonformofpersuasivecartography.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Thisgenreofcartographyisoftencalled"propagandamaps,"saysMode,butheprefersthelesspejorativelabel
"persuasivecartography."Justbecausetheyrepersuasive,heargues,doesn'tmeantheyreinaccurate."Icollect
boththerearesomepiecesthatarepersuasivebecausetheyarecompletelyaccurateandthatmarshalfactsina

waythatisverypowerful.Headds,Thereareothersthatusemapsthatarenotatallaccurate,butwhatis
powerfulistheimagery.Andthentherearemapsthatareincrediblydeceptive."
Modedonatedhiscollectionofover700mapstotheCornellUniversityLibraryin2014.InSeptember,the
universitysDivisionofRare&ManuscriptCollectionslaunchedanonlinearchiveofimagesfromthecollection.
About300workshavebeendigitizedandpublishedsofar,datingfromthedistantpasttoasrecentas2008.
Muchlikemapsthatachieveviralpopularitytoday,classicmapsseeninModescollectionoftensoughttoprovoke
shockoroutrage.Examplesincludeoddlyfamiliarbroadsidesagainstwealthinequality:an1877cartooninthe
GermaneditionofPuckmagazineshowingtheoligarchsWilliamVanderbilt,JayGould,CyrusWestField,and
RussellSagecarvingupthecountryintopiecesa1884politicalposterbytheDemocraticPartyaccusing
Republicansofgivingaway38percentoftheUnitedStatestorailroadcorporations(therealamountwascloserto9
percent,Modenotes,addingthattheeffectofthedeceptionwasmassive).Eventhedeepestskepticofalcohol
prohibitionwouldbestruckbythis1888mapoftavernsinNewYorkCityandbythedenseconcentrationofsaloons,
bordellos,andpawnshopswithinafewblocksinChicagoinan1894mapcreatedbytemperanceadvocates.

ViceCityAsectionofChicagosFirstWardjustablockoutsidetoday'sLoopisvirtuallypackedwithbordellos,saloons,and
pawnbrokersinthis1894mapmadebythesocialreformerW.T.Snead.ThecollectorP.J.Modewrites,Thispolemicmapuses
overwhelmingtonesofred,black,andgraytoconveyareformer'sviewofviceandiniquityinChicago.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Ifthecorepurposeofmapsistoportrayspatialrelationships,itsnotsurprisingthatmanyofModesmapsseemto
emphasizeasenseofproximity,evenencroachment.Inthe1920s,aftertheTreatyofVersailleshadforced
Germanytomaketerritorialconcessions,apopularnationalistmapprefiguredlateraggressionsbymakingit
possible,Modewrites,toclaimnotonlyalllostterritoriesbutevenareasoutsideprewarGermanysimplyby
pointingtotheirGermanculturalcharacter.

GreaterGermany?Inthe1920s,aftertheTreatyofVersailleshadforcedGermanytomaketerritorialconcessions,thispopular
nationalistmapprefiguredlateraggressionsbymakingitpossible,Modewrites,toclaimnotonlyalllostterritoriesbutevenareas
outsideprewarGermanysimplybypointingtotheirGermanculturalcharacter.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Indeed,fearofencroachmentseemstobeapopularmotivatorinthesecharts,asillustratedbyamapmadefora
successfulcampaigntokeepnuclearwarshipsoutofNewYorkHarborinthe1980s.Themap,madebyachurch
basedantinucleargroup,overlaysagiantredpaintsplashonamapofthecity,nexttotextwarningthatawarhead
orreactoraccidentcouldengulfManhattanina28milecloudofplutoniumdust.Itsanexampleofwhatcanbe
doneusingmaps,saysMode,tomakeapointtothegeneralpublicwithoutusinganyscience.

NuclearNewYork?Thismap,madebyachurchbasedantinucleargroup,overlaysagiantredpaintsplashNewyorkCitynexttotext
warningthatanavalwarheadorreactoraccidentcouldengulfManhattanina28milecloudofplutoniumdust.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Notsurprisingly,anumberofmemorableimagesfromthecollectionwereproducedinwartime.AJapanesemap
datingfromtheRussoJapaneseWardepictsRussiaasagiantoctopusastrideEuropeandAsia.Menacing
octopusesseemtobeapopularmetaphor,asJapanwasinturndepictedinWorldWarII,inaDutchposterurging
theliberationoftheNetherlandsformerIndonesiancolonies.TheBritishproducedvividwargraphicsaswell,such
asthearguablycorrectNaziWarAimsGrab!Grab!!Grab!!!in1939.

Butmapsinthecollectionalsodrawonpride,uplift,andasenseofhumor.Duringthemovementtoenfranchise
womennationwide,aPuckmagazinegraphicentitledTheAwakeningshowsLadyLibertyastridethenewly
incorporatedwesternstatesandterritorieswherewomenhadthevotelookingbackatyearningmassesof
womenintheEast.TheAugust1895coverofJudgemagazine,arivaltoPuckanditstimelessThomasNast
cartoons,showstheU.S.asacuriousUncleSamhiseyeWashington,D.C.,hisnoseFloridapeeringintently
downatCuba,whereaninsurgencyhadjustbegun,andwhereTheodoreRooseveltwouldlaterleadaninvading
forcetowresttheislandfromtheSpanish.
"TheAwakening"NewlyincorporatedwesternstatesgavewomenthevotewellbeforethoseintheEast,partlyfor
thepurposeofincreasingtheirelectoralpower.This1915cartoonfromPuckmagazinecelebratesthearrivalof
universalsuffrageintheWestandsuggeststhatLadyLibertyisheadedeast.TwoyearslaterNewYorkersvoted
toexpandthefranchise.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Modesaysthehistoricalmastersofpersuasivemaps,though,weretheBritishduringtheirimperialheight,when
mapshelpedpromotethesize,power,andpresumableinvincibilityofasmallislandnationsglobalempire.They
usednotjustmapsthemselves,hesays,butalsovisualandgeographicaltacticstoshapetheviewersperception.
Anextrawide1890mapoftheBritishEmpire,Modepointsout,extends490degreesoflongitudeacrossaglobe
withonly360degreesensuringthatIndia,Australia,andNewZealandappearnotoncebuttwice.Itreallyisin
manywaysanimportantexampleofhowtheBritishusedcartographytoemphasizethesize,extent,andpowerof
theBritishEmpire.
ProjectingPowerThis1890mapoftheBritishEmpireissowideextending490degreesoflongitudearounda
360degreespherethatitshowsIndia,Australia,andNewZealand(highlightedascoloniesinred)twice.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Asimilar1934mapentitledPortugalIsNotaSmallCountryoverlaysthetinycountrysoverseascolonies
(includingMozambiqueandAngola)ontherestofEurope.
PortugalIsNotaSmallCountryA1934mapoverlaysthetinycountrysoverseascolonies(includingMozambique
andAngola)ontherestofEurope.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

AsMarkMonmoniersvenerablebookHowtoLiewithMapshaspointedout,cartographicprojectioncanbe
anothertoolofdeception.AnumberofColdWareraU.S.mapsoftheSovietUnionadoptanunusualpolar
viewpointtoemphasizethereachofcommunism,asinapamphletproducedbyMiamianticommunistsin1966.
Modecitesa1958mapcreatedforTIMEmagazinethatwaswelcomedbyAlaskastatehoodadvocatesforits
strongvisualemphasisofthestatesstrategiclocationrelativetotheSoviets.Inthemapsbirdseyeperspective,
youpracticallycanseeRussiafromyourwindow.
EnvisioningStatehoodThis1958mapwasembracedbyAlaskastatehoodadvocatesforitsstrongvisualemphasis
ofthestatesstrategiclocationrelativetotheSovietUnion.Atthetime,thesenatewasdeliberatingonwhetheror
nottoadmittheAlaskanterritory.
P.J.ModeCollectionofPersuasiveCartographyatCornellUniversity

Arethesemapsaccurate?Notalways,saysMode,buthenotesthatheselectedtheworksbasedontheir
effectiveness,nottheirveracity.Therailroadmap,forexample,drasticallyoverstatedtheamountoflandbeing
grantedtotherailroadcompaniesaslaverymapproducedforthe1856presidentialcampaignofabolitionistJohn
C.Frmontcountedasslaveterritoriesthosenewstatesandterritoriesthathadnotyetdecidedwhetherornot
theywouldadoptslavery.
Viewedasawhole,theCornellcollectionisareminderthatalthoughthereisbeautyintruth,anartfullyspunpoint
ofviewcanbequiteseductiveaswell.Andnomapseventhemostscrupulouslyresearchedarecompletelyfree
ofeditorialdecisionsorpointsofview.AsModesays,TheresagreatquotefromacolonelonWorldWarII:
Propagandaiswhattheothersidedoes.Whatwedoiscommunication.
Anearlierversionofthisarticlemisidentifiedthenatureofa1939mapcriticizingtheundueinfluenceof
residentsofNewYork'sUnionSquaredistrict.Themapwasanticommunist,notanticapitalist,andwasa
rebuttalofa1937articledecryingtheinfluenceofsixtywealthyfamilies.The1939mapwasacriticismofleft

winglaborandintellectualgroups,notofwealthyfamilies.
PersuasiveCartography:ThePJModeCollectionisonlineatCornellUniversityLibrarysDivisionofRare&
ManuscriptCollections.
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