Stitching the World: Embroidered Maps and Women’s Geographical Education: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Stitching the World: Embroidered Maps and Women’s Geographical Education

1st Edition

By Judith A. Tyner


196 pages

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From the late eighteenth century until about 1840, schoolgirls in the British Isles and the United States created embroidered map samplers and even silk globes. Hundreds of British maps were made and although American examples are more rare, they form a significant collection of artefacts. Descriptions of these samplers stated that they were designed to teach needlework and geography. The focus of this book is not on stitches and techniques used in 'drafting' the maps, but rather why they were developed, how they diffused from the British Isles to the United States, and why they were made for such a brief time. The events of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries stimulated an explosion of interest in geography. The American and French Revolutions, the wars between France and England, the War of 1812, Captain Cook's voyages, and the explorations of Lewis and Clark made the study of places exciting and important. Geography was the first science taught to girls in school. This period also coincided with major changes in educational theories and practices, especially for girls, and this book uses needlework maps and globes to chart a broader discussion of women's geographic education. In this light, map samplers and embroidered globes represent a transition in women's education from 'accomplishments' in the eighteenth century to challenging geographic education and conventional map drawing in schools and academies of the second half of the nineteenth century. There has been little serious study of these maps by cartographers and, moreover, historians of cartography have largely neglected the role of women in mapping. Children's maps have not been studied, although they might have much to offer about geographical teaching and perceptions of a period, and map samplers have been dismissed because they are the work of schoolgirls. Needlework historians, likewise, have not done in depth studies of map samplers until recently. Stitching the World is an interdisciplinary work drawing on cartography, needlework, and material culture. This book for the first time provides a critical analysis of these artefacts, showing that they offer significant insights into both eighteenth- and nineteenth-century geographic thought and cartography in the USA and the UK and into the development of female education.


"Overall, Tyner’s research is fascinating (embroidered silk globes!), a combination of occasionally detective-like research and curious material culture. The work can be beneficial both for pleasure reading and for the classroom." - Rebecca A. Buller, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

"[T]he book's tables and visual documentation offer a new resource for students interested in the material culture of cartography and education history." - Martin Brückner, University of Delaware, USA, Journal of Historical Geography 55

"This volume has much to recommend it. First, it legiti-mizes the place of map samplers as an important part of history of cartography. Second, it gives recognition to the contributions of young women to the history of cartogra-phy. Third, the book is structured to have a wide appeal, so as non-cartographers pick up this volume, a new audience will be introduced to the fascinating discipline of cartog-raphy. And finally, I think it will encourage others—my-self included—to search for embroidered maps in their local communities, and will ultimately make it possible to find many more embroidered map masterpieces in muse-ums and historical societies and attics." - Karen M. Trifonoff, Professor Emerita,Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Journal Cartographic Perspectives

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; In the beginning was the sampler; British Isles traditions; Stitching a new nation; The world in silk; Needles and pens; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Judith A. Tyner, is Professor Emerita at California State University, Long Beach, USA.

About the Series

Studies in Historical Geography

Studies in Historical Geography
Historical geography has consistently been at the cutting edge of scholarship and research in human geography for the last fifty years. The first generation of its practitioners, led by Clifford Darby, Carl Sauer and Vidal de la Blache presented diligent archival studies of patterns of agriculture, industry and the region through time and space. Drawing on this work, but transcending it in terms of theoretical scope and substantive concerns, historical geography has long since developed into a highly interdisciplinary field seeking to fuse the study of space and time. In doing so, it provides new perspectives and insights into fundamental issues across both the humanities and social sciences. Having radically altered and expanded its conception of the theoretical underpinnings, data sources and styles of writing through which it can practice its craft over the past twenty years, historical geography is now a pluralistic, vibrant and interdisciplinary field of scholarship. In particular, two important trends can be discerned. First, there has been a major 'cultural turn' in historical geography which has led to a concern with representation as driving historical-geographical consciousness, leading scholars to a concern with text, interpretation and discourse rather than the more materialist concerns of their predecessors. Secondly, there has been a development of interdisciplinary scholarship, leading to fruitful dialogues with historians of science, art historians and literary scholars in particular which has revitalised the history of geographical thought as a realm of inquiry in historical geography. Studies in Historical Geography aims to provide a forum for the publication of scholarly work which encapsulates and furthers these developments. Aiming to attract an interdisciplinary and international authorship and audience, Studies in Historical Geography will publish theoretical, historiographical and substantive contributions meshing time, space and society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography