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Back to School: Geography in the Classroom

September 2, 2014 - January 25, 2015

American schoolchildren have studied geography since the colonial-era. Traditionally viewed as an essential subject for boys’ and girls’ education, geography was taught to small children from their earliest lessons at home, to young adults studying in high school and university settings. In this display of forty maps, globes, games, atlases and related objects, we see the evolution of geographic education, examine the visual aids used by teachers in the classroom, and marvel at unique student-produced geography projects from the late 18th to the 20th centuries.

Author Talk Series: Michael Blanding

The Map Thief - Michael Blanding

The story of an infamous crime, a revered map dealer with an unsavory secret, and the ruthless subculture that consumed him

Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers—both as beautiful works of art and as practical tools to navigate the world. But to those who collect them, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.

Once considered a respectable antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief —until he was finally arrested slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library. The Map Thief delves into the untold history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal and the inside story of the industry that consumed him.

Acclaimed reporter Michael Blanding has interviewed all the key players in this stranger-than-fiction story, and shares the fascinating histories of maps that charted the New World, and how they went from being practical instruments to quirky heirlooms to highly coveted objects. Though pieces of the map theft story have been written before, Blanding is the first reporter to explore the story in full—and had the rare privilege of having access to Smiley himself after he’d gone silent in the wake of his crimes. Moreover, although Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, libraries claim he stole hundreds more—and offer intriguing clues to prove it. Now, through a series of exclusive interviews with Smiley and other key individuals, Blanding teases out an astonishing tale of destruction and redemption.

The Map Thief interweaves Smiley’s escapades with the stories of the explorers and mapmakers he knew better than anyone. Tracking a series of thefts as brazen as the art heists in Provenance and a subculture as obsessive as the oenophiles in The Billionaire’s Vinegar, Blanding has pieced together an unforgettable story of high-stakes crime.

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Geography Awareness Week

November 16-22, 2014

The Map Center hosts several family and children’s programs that raise awareness and excitement about geography as a discipline and a part of everyday life. Stay tuned for specific information.

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We are One: Mapping the Road from Revolution to Independence

May to October 2015 – Boston Public Library

2016 – Colonial Williamsburg

2017 – New-York Historical Society

In the spring of 2015 the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center will present an exhibition that commemorates the 250th anniversary of Britain’s 1765 Stamp Act. This pivotal moment sparked American opposition to Britain’s restrictive colonial policies, particularly taxation without representation, which was established to help pay for troops stationed in the colonies during the French and Indian War (1756-1763). Protestors in Boston hung one of the tax collectors in effigy on an elm tree near the Boston Common. The tree became known as the Liberty Tree, and the loose organization of protestors were known as the Sons of Liberty. This early opposition throughout the colonies to British imperial control set the stage for growing opposition to British rule during the next ten years, resulting in the American Revolutionary War.

Click here for more information

Historical Maps of Boston at the Langham Hotel

Historical Maps of Boston at the Langham Hotel

Langham

A selection of historical maps of New England, Massachusetts, and Boston, describing the topographical transformation of the city over 300 years from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library are on display at this hotel.

Langham Hotel
250 Franklin Street
Boston, MA

Maps of the New England Coast at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Maps of the New England Coast at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Boston Harbor HotelMaps from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library depicting the exploration, mapping, and maritime activity along the coastline of New England are on exhibit at this hotel.

Boston Harbor Hotel
70 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (http://maps.bpl.org)