"Women in American Cartography" pulls together a lifetime's of research on the place of women in cartography in the United States. Its author, Judith Tyner has a longstanding interest in the history of cartography and in particular, on the role of women therein. In summary, the volume breaks new ground by bringing together the stories of women cartographers to make sense of their contributions to the field and to show how social attitudes and circumstances shaped their opportunities to make maps.
Map histories have until recently largely ignored female cartographers, partly because maps were not always signed by their creators. However, as women gained greater access to education in the 19th century, geography and mapmaking became important school subjects for them. Tyner (California State Univ., Long Beach), who has written previously on embroidered maps and globes, discusses the roles of Emma Willard and the Westtown School in Pennsylvania in teaching cartography to these women. A surge of American women cartographers came during WW II, when there was an urgent need for new maps of all parts of the world. With men serving in the military, opportunities for training and employment in the field were finally made available to women, and many continued to serve in the map departments of federal and state governments, libraries, and commercial firms once the war ended. Through her investigation Tyner presents brief biographies of a number of notable women, including Marie Tharp, who mapped the ocean floor and discovered the Atlantic Rift Valley, and Gertrude Bracht, the creator of state highway maps for Oklahoma and a map of Route 66, “the Main Street of America.” Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.