Conservation of an 1852 map of Madison, Indiana

This 1852 map of the city of Madison is the earliest map of the old river city held in the Indiana State Library’s collections. The detail is brilliant, done by the careful hand of Hoosier pioneer William C. Bramwell. It seems clear that this map is the original map used for the 1854 published map of the city, which is held in Madison. Bramwell seems to have an interesting biography, although little is known about the details of his life. Credits to his name include state legislator, surveyor, preacher, inventor and spinning wheel maker. Whatever his true calling, it is clear his attention to detail and craftsmanship has left us a beautifully rich and detailed map of one of Indiana’s oldest cities.

It is not known when the Indiana State Library acquired this map, or its history before it arrived at the library. When it was found in the collection it was in an extremely deteriorated and fragile state. The map was still adhered to its original fabric backing, which had become very dirty and deteriorated. As with many maps from this period, the front had been varnished, which resulted in even more deterioration. The front of the map had also become so dirty and discolored that most of the map could not be read. Many pieces of the map had broken off and become lost, and it was difficult to determine the difference between the paper areas and the cloth. It was in such poor condition, that even unrolling it would result in pieces falling off. Finally, as with many maps from this period, there was evidence of water damage as well in the form of staining.

The goals for this project were simple. In its current state, the map was unusable. It was so dirty that it could not be read, and it was so fragile that even unrolling it would result in more pieces falling off. The goals of this project were to clean the map as much as possible to remove the old varnish, the dirt and the staining and then line the map onto a single sheet of Japanese paper to allow for it to be stable enough to handle. While the goals were simple, the execution would prove to be complicated by the enormous quantity of loose pieces that would come loose once the original fabric was removed. In order to preserve the information in the map, all the loose pieces would need to stay in their correct spots throughout the entire treatment. Finally, the map would be encapsulated in a custom polyester film sleeve to allow for more protection. The below pictures outline the conservation process.

Before treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Before treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

In order to remove the varnish, the map was placed faced down on blotter paper a high-power suction table and sprayed with ethanol.

The ethanol would penetrate through the fabric and paper, solubilizing the varnish, and pull it into the blotter below.

This process was repeated until all the varnish was removed. The map was routinely lifted and checked during this process.

The blotter shows all the varnish removed from the map.

The map sections were washed in modified hot water on a rigid sheet of plexiglass for support.

The map was carefully lifted on the plexiglass support and tilted. Using a small brush and a Japanese mister, the entire surface of the maps was cleaned to remove all remaining varnish and dirt. Careful attention was paid to make sure all the loose pieces of the map stayed in their correct spots throughout the entire process.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

After the map sections were cleaned, the map was placed face down on polyester film and the original fabric was carefully removed making sure none of the loose pieces moved.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The top and bottom section of the map next to each other. At this point, the bottom section has already been treated and the top section had not yet been treated.

After treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

After treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan encapsulating the map in a polyester film sleeve with an ultrasonic polyester welder.

Click here to read more about the conservation efforts of the Indiana State Library.

This blog post was written by Seth Irwin, conservator, and Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor, both of the Indiana State Library.

River city maps

Town maps can certainly be beautifully done, but they are at the mercy of the grid of streets to give them visual interest. Throw in a variable, like a winding river, and they become ever more interesting. The way the water meets the land and how a town is forced to bend along the banks adds lines and color to the maps. Where waterways meet cities the grid breaks down and leaves behind some visually rich maps.

Sometimes the river makes the city, both in development and in character. Indiana’s most famous river city is probably historic Madison, along the mighty Ohio River. Kentucky is usually omitted from maps, making it look like the town is situated at the edge of a cliff. The river is impossible to ignore there.

Likewise, Huntington was built up along a river. The Wabash, Little Wabash and the canals; waterways were ever important to its development. The maps are beautiful in the way the angled streets disorient the buildings. Especially lovely with the illustrations is this detailed map from 1879.

Other times, the city seems to develop while almost ignoring the river. Columbus seems to just dip a toe into the East Fork of the White River. Indianapolis, too, seems to be shying away from the White River and looking inward toward the circle center. Both of these towns have had interesting relationships with their rivers, but now Columbus Riverfront and Indianapolis are looking for ways to embrace their beautiful waterways.

It seems Logansport’s not afraid to straddle and nestle within the arms of the Wabash and Eel rivers. And Elkhart, too, appears not to have shied away from the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. The river seems to be coming and going, swirling and whirling on the page.

If you enjoyed looking at these maps, take time to explore some of the great digital map collections available online. Don’t we all need something for our minds to linger on right now?

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
American Geographical Society Library
Osher Map Library
New York Public Library

This post was written by Indiana Collection Supervisor Monique Howell

Libraries and the 2020 census

In December of last year, Kathy Kozenski from the Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana and I brought a giant 15′ x 21′ Indiana floor map1 to the Vigo County Public Library for a program called “Get On The Map!” Library patrons, ages 3 to 15, joined us in learning about state geography as we walked in socked feet across cities, lakes, rivers and forests.

Photo courtesy of Lauri Chandler, Youth Services Manager at the Vigo County Public Library.

We discussed the cardinal directions and talked with the students about where they had lived and traveled, and where they would like to go in the future. Despite their young ages, many had already been outside of the state and even outside of the country. We asked students to identify and locate map features. Lake Michigan, one of the map’s prominent features, was a favorite.

We asked what we might find in Indiana cities or towns. Answers were:

“Buildings!”
“Roads!”
“Trees!”
“Pets!”
“Cars!”

Part of my reason for this question was to introduce the idea of the census, so we asked what else a city or town needed in order to have all of these things.

“People!,” they answered.

This provided us with a chance to discuss how many people live in different areas, and that when there are more people we need more resources. We talked about the upcoming 2020 census, why we count people and why it is important to get an accurate count so that resources can be distributed where they are needed.

We followed our map exploration with the storied adventures of Fred the Fish. Made of a small piece of muslin, Fred swam in a river – a plastic container of water – next to several different sources of pollution. We poured in small amounts of dirt, oil and trash. We demonstrated the effects of these things on Fred, and talked about how important it is to notice the effects of human population on the surrounding environment.

With the 2020 Census approaching, librarians are on the forefront of community outreach, as our jobs will involve helping patrons report data to the federal government. This will be the first U.S. census in history to provide the opportunity for online response, and we expect to welcome our patrons to answer the census at our public computers.

In October of 2018, the American Library Association issued a policy brief entitled Libraries and the 2020 Census Vital Partners for a Complete Count that explains how libraries act as “trusted partners in achieving a complete count in the 2020 census” by:

  • Delivering information about the census and hosting community outreach activities
  • Providing internet access to enable respondents to complete the census form online
  • Serving as trusted messengers, including in hard-to-count communities
  • Training data users and providing access to census statistics for businesses and community members.

ALA recently hosted a free webinar, “Libraries and the 2020 Census” through its Chapter Advocacy Exchange. You can view the webinar here. The ALA president, assistant director of government relations and deputy director of public policy addressed the important role libraries play in ensuring a complete and accurate count of people. It featured librarians planning 2020 census outreach in Montana, California and Illinois.

In Indiana, there are several ways we can participate in planning for the 2020 census, which will take place a year from now, in March and April of 2020. Local communities are building Complete Count Committees, also known as CCCs, to encourage participation. At your library, you can help by hosting outreach efforts from the Census Bureau, promoting census jobs as they are available and incorporating census information in newsletters, social media and websites. Last week, the Census Bureau released its 2020 promotional guidelines. You can retrieve the PDF here.

For more information about the 2020 census in Indiana and how you can help, visit the Census in Indiana website. Follow the State Data Center on Facebook and Twitter for census messages and contact us at the Indiana State Library with questions.

1. GENI loans out giant traveling floor maps of Indiana to libraries and schools along with curriculum guides and a trunk full of learning tools.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference & Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Picture it… Indianapolis… 1852.

Image traveling through a forest so thick that you could do it without ever touching the ground. You could go from tree limb to tree limb, with very little visible grass or flowers, just climbing along. Now imagine this area being Indianapolis, circa 1780. Up until around 1820, the area we now know as the capitol of Indiana was exactly that, a massive dense forest. Settlers then moved in, cleared land, began farms and started to form a community.

Several maps of early Indianapolis show the layout of the mile square, but it wasn’t until 1852 that we saw the first map of the city with any detail.

When we first got this map out and saw exactly what we had to deal with, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to digitize it. In fact, the two pictures below show what the book looked like. It had been dissected, glued onto linen and folded to fit on the shelf, which was a very common library practice early on. Nowadays, we don’t do that.

Rebecca, our conservator, painstakingly took pictures of each section, then recreated the completed image that you now see in our digital collections. This was a several day process. Now this extremely rare map has come back together and we can study it and learn what the layout of the city was like in the early 1850s.

For example, the railroad lines and their depots beeline the map, showing how the trains moved merchandise, goods and passengers in all directions. Passengers might have seen a map like this hanging at the train station. Checking the legend, they could have found several houses for accommodations, such as The Palmer House (H) or The Bates House (J), both at the corners of Illinois and Washington Streets, just a few blocks up from the station. After getting settled in, they might have walked up to the governor’s residence to pay a call on Joseph Wright, Indiana’s governor in 1852.

The map also shows the small portion of the massive 296-mile planned canal system and its path through the city; only eight miles of the canal were completed. Beginning at the White River, the canal ran east, then headed north and south. The canal helped facilitate interstate commerce and also provided alternative transportation for passengers.

Most of the transportation routes, such as the canals and railroads, are south of the residential areas, including the current Lockerbie Square and the old Northside neighborhoods. Oftentimes, residential areas grew north of the industrial areas as winds would blow the smoke and pollution south.

Later maps, such as those published in 1855 and 1866, show fewer details. Both maps can be viewed on the Library of Congress’s website. We have the maps at the state library, but the Library of Congress has done such a great job digitizing their copies that we just refer researchers to those digitized maps. Our copies, sadly, are in need of much repair.

This post was written by Chris Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.

An intern’s preservation experience at the Indiana State Library

I am a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington. When the time came to complete an internship, I decided to learn about government documents by applying to intern with the Indiana State Library – our regional depository of federal documents. The Indiana State Library joined the preservation steward program early. This program asks libraries to commit to keeping and preserving government documents of their choice. As their intern, I had the opportunity to sort through a large collection of oversized documents in order to add them to ISL’s preservation stewardship agreement.

The best part about working with large, old documents is that they are full of beautiful maps, drawings and other images.

The documents I handled were all from 1965 or earlier. The oldest document that I handled was the Laws of the United States of America printed in 1796.

In addition to working on the stewardship program, I worked on lists of documents posted to the Indiana Needs and Offers Database. These are documents that a library wants to remove from their collection, but first offers them to the regional library, then other libraries. The Indiana State Library will claim any document posted to these lists that is not currently part of their collection. My job was to find these items on the shelves – easier said than done! I spent hours hunting down public document call numbers and checking shelves to ensure that the library did not miss a chance to add new documents to the collection.

Finally, I learned about digitization, a critical skill for a new librarian as libraries all over the country have ongoing digitization projects. I digitized a series of Indiana state elections results from 1960 to the 1980s. It is great to be a part of the preservation of Indiana history.

My internship at the Indiana State Library has been informative and given me important experience with the everyday work of government documents librarians. Thank you to all of the talented librarians who took the time to teach me over the last few months!

This blog post was written by Rachel Holder, a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington and the Federal Documents Intern with the Reference and Government Documents Division.

Maps of Jennings and Ripley County, by William W. Borden (c. 1875): Part 2

To read part one, click here.

When this handmade plat book made its way to me to be scanned, I discovered a very interesting story. It started with the description and metadata creation. In layman’s terms, in case you’re not familiar with “creating metadata,” it means assigning subject terms to an object so you, me and other researchers can find the item when you search the collections, and often through a Google search.

This plat map book shows land ownership in townships in Jennings and Ripley Counties. It was hand-written by William W. Borden of New Providence (now Borden), Indiana, in 1875.

As I looked at the inside of the front cover, I thought “Who is W.W. Borden of New Providence, Indiana?” and even more so “Where is New Providence?” I had no idea. It wasn’t on a map. So, with a quick internet search, I found that New Providence is now called Borden, located in Clark County.

From there came a flood of information. William W. Borden was a well-known state geologist, a collector and a curator. In fact, his will specifically directed his heirs to maintain a museum of his collection. Alas, the museum didn’t last and his collection dispersed. Somewhere over time, this handmade plat book made its way to the Genealogy Collection here at the Indian State Library. You can learn more about Borden here.

Maps of the counties.

I can imagine Borden, on a horse, wondering the hilly back roads of Jennings and Ripley counties on a summer day drawing up maps showing the locations of rivers,  laying out the townships and asking the locals “Who lives there?,” while jotting down the names of the land owners.

Map of Columbia Township.

My theory is that Borden was out learning how to plat maps, studying the geological landscape and collecting local specimens. Little did he know that someday his note book would end up being a genealogical resource for researchers. Although probably not complete, each township map shows the owners of the land at a specific point in time – 1875. On a personal note, I had family in Ripley County and even though I still haven’t found them on any of Borden’s maps, I wonder if he rode by and waved.

Map of Shelby Township.

I also can’t help but wonder if he would stop for some lunch under a shady tree and read since there are two sections of notes: One on the Mound Builders and the other on the Aztecs.

Notes on Aztecs.

Regardless, this is one example of the great items waiting to be discovered in the collections at the Indiana State Library. One man’s creation has become a wealth of information for researchers, be it someone studying genealogy, someone wondering how one geologist learned about his surroundings or even someone wanting to study cartography. I’m sure Borden would be pleased.

The Indiana State Library’s Digital Map Collection continues to grow and new maps are being added all the time. To see more of our general digital collections, check this out.

This blog post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Christopher.

Maps of Jennings and Ripley County, by William W. Borden (c. 1875): Part 1

This will be part one of a two-part feature on this collection item. Please be sure to check back in the near future for part two from Chris Marshall, who will give more information about the map book’s creator and the historical importance of its contents.

Rescuing a Book of Hand-drawn Maps from Repairs Gone Wrong

When Indiana Division Librarian Chris Marshall recently brought me a book of hand-drawn maps for consultation, it was a bittersweet experience. This little volume created by William W. Borden in 1875 contains notes, maps, and delightful remnants of pressed plants, evidence of which only remains in the impressions and acidic discoloration in the paper. Chris had selected the volume for digitization due to a patron request, but it needed some conservation treatment beforehand.

 

Suffering from loose pages, pages stuck together, taped hinges, and a fragile leather cover completely encased in stiff library book cloth with what was likely an overzealous coating of paste, this little book had received so much well-meaning but poorly executed repair work that it could barely open. A little pocket at the back also held three additional maps, each broken at their fold-lines in four sections. After some discussion with our Genealogy Division Supervising Librarian, Stephanie Asberry, a treatment plan for how best to restore access to this volume was agreed upon.

Here was the plan:

  1. Separate text block from binding safely
  2. Remove tape
  3. Separate all pages adhered together if possible
  4. Mend all loose pages back into sections
  5. Re-sew text block in a way that allows a relaxed, flat opening
  6. Mend the three additional maps back into one piece
  7. Send all to Chris Marshall for digitizing
  8. See if the original leather binding can be rescued from the book cloth
  9. Rebind either in original binding or new case, storing old binding with the book

As you can see, we are currently up to step eight:

Stuck pages have been safely separated. The title page seen in the first before image was a later, modern addition that Borden would not have intended to be there. We decided to separate the page and use the information for cataloging only.

Pages have been mended back together and the text block sewn back together for a comfortable, flat opening.

The pages can now relax flat.

Loose page from the before images above has been mended back in.

Lovely acidic discoloration left behind from a long-missing plant fragment.

While I was able to very carefully remove the book cloth from the leather binding, the leather is very stiff and brittle. Because it no longer flexes, it would not be safe to rebind back into its original binding.

When I receive the volume back from Chris from digitization, I will rebind it in a new case and create a box for the volume, the extra maps, and the original binding. At that point it will be readily available for researchers to view in person in addition to the digitized copy Chris will make available online in the near future.

Stay tuned for a part two about this map book in the near future! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about William W. Borden, the Indiana Historical Bureau had a wonderfully written feature about him in The Indiana Historian, December 1995 available here.

This blog post was written by Rebecca Shindel, Conservator, Indiana State Library.

Using maps online

It seems true that the most informative maps to use for local history and genealogy research are maps with the greatest amount of detail. The three most recommended, and requested, maps at ISL are these large scale varieties: plat maps, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and the 7.5 minute topographic map series. Coverage varies for these maps, but you will certainly find the area you are investigating on at least one of these maps. To the great advantage of researchers (and preservationists) these maps are increasingly being made available online.

The USGS 7.5-mintue topographic maps cover every inch of Indiana ground with editions dating back to the late 1940s. One inch represents 2000 feet, so perhaps they are better described as medium-scale. Regardless, they are detailed enough to pin-point a neighborhood and figure out what the landscape of grandpa’s farm looked like. They are offered multiple places online. You can find them at the USGS Store and also at the USGS’s new online viewer. The maps are free to download either way you go at it.

An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Jackson County, Indiana; Driftwood Township. Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

Showing even more detail of grandpa’s farm (perhaps even the cows, pigs and grandma, too) are the historical plat atlases. Most of Indiana’s historical plat atlases are available online. Not all of them are online yet, but ISL is working to fill the gap! IUPUI, Ball State, Ancestry and the Indiana State Library are making an effort to digitize these helpful maps. The atlases were published by county, with individual maps of each township. These often have some biographical and statistical information as well. These are great for rural areas. Try looking for plat maps at the following sites:

Indiana State Library Map Collection

IUPUI Historic Indiana Atlas collection

Ancestry.com has a collection called U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. This collection includes maps from across the county and covers about 60 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are the most detailed maps you will find of developed areas. IU Bloomington has a nice collection of pristine pre-1924 Sanborn maps available online: https://libraries.indiana.edu/union-list-sanborn-maps

IUPUI has digitized the state library’s Indianapolis volumes and they host them in their Indianapolis Sanborn Map and Baist Atlas Collection.

And of course, don’t forget there are thousands more maps that haven’t yet been digitized. Investigate the thousands of print maps we hold in the Indiana State Library Map Collection.

Happy hunting!

This blog post was written by Monique Howell of the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

Digitizing Indiana Atlases and Maps

The Indiana Division has a wide assortment of rare and valuable atlases in its collection, and to make them more accessible to people, we’ve taken the initiative of putting them online. This process involves finding out which atlases aren’t already digitized, and making sure the books are in good enough condition before scanning them.

After they’ve been scanned in at a high resolution, we edit the files with programs like Adobe Photoshop and then upload them online through contentDM. From there, they’re on the web for the entire world to see. You can look at them here: http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15078coll8

A map of Johnson County, from “An Illustrated Plat Book of Shelby and Johnson Counties, Indiana (1900)”
Map of Johnson County

In addition to providing detailed maps of Indiana counties, these atlases show information on property owners, offer family histories, and provide useful facts about the time period they were published in. When you’re researching your family tree, be sure to take a look at these books because they might even show you a picture of your ancestor along with exactly where they lived!

Photographs of County Officials, as they appeared in a “Descriptive Atlas of Jackson County (1900)”
County Officials

These atlases also had maps of the United States and the entire world, so that readers could learn more about them as well. Not only that, but the world maps had interesting statistics on the power of nation’s armies and navies, their various national debts, and how much railroad and telegraph infrastructure each country had. These maps provide a marvelous portal to the history of the late 19th century.

Map of the World, from “An Illustrated Plat Book of Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties, Indiana (1899)”
Map of the World

This blog post was written by Justin Davis, Indiana Collection Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana Collection Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.