Thursday, April 07, 2016

World War I-Era Map Available at Ball State University Libraries

Historic World War I-Era Map Available in Ball State University Libraries

April 6 marked the 99th anniversary of the American declaration of war against Germany in 1917.  World War I began in July of 1914, but the United States did not become involved until years later.

In 1983 Ball State University Libraries acquired a rare, historically significant map related to the end of World War I.  Paul Stout, retired map librarian at the Bracken Library Map Collection, attended the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Special Summer Project that year and processed a backlog of maps that the Division received for decades from federal libraries and government mapping agencies.  (Ball State University Libraries was one of the many institutions to sponsor a participant in the program).  In exchange for their work, participants were able to select duplicate maps and atlases from the Library’s stock and send them back to their sponsoring libraries.

During a four-hour selection period, Stout discovered two maps that he suspected were not duplicate copies.  The maps were of the Hungarian portion of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire dated 1919.  One of the maps had specific notations indicating it had been used at the Peace Conference in Versailles, France, following World War I and was stamped “American Commission to Negotiate Peace.”  (The Treaty of Trianon was organized as part of the Peace Conference at Versailles in order to determine the borders of Hungary and was signed in June of 1920, so the American delegation may have used these maps as a resource for the peace negotiations).  Stout returned the two maps to the Division Chief, but he allowed Stout to keep the un-annotated copy of the map as a gift.

The map (pictured above) measures over six feet by almost ten feet in size.  The title of the map is Ethnographical Map of Hungary—Colonization and Population.  The authors are S. Batky and Ch. Kogutowicz, and the map is dated 1919.  The map states it is “designed by order of the Foreign Ministry of the Hungarian Republic.”  The map shows the areas where ethnic Hungarians were predominant—one of the criteria for the negotiations used by the American Delegation to Negotiate Peace in preparation for the determination of the new boundaries of Hungary.

Stephen Duecker, Information Services Librarian, researched the history of the map.  The two maps first belonged to the U.S. State Department in 1919 and then transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1949.  Duecker believed it is plausible that the Ball State University map was at the Peace Conference following World War I.  Due to its historic significance, the map is now housed in the Archives and Special Collections on the second floor of Bracken Library.  The map is available for historical research and as a learning resource.  (More historical objects are also available in the Archives and on the Digital Media Repository, including World War I posters and maps).

Please contact the GIS Research and Map Collection at 765-285-1097 or the Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 for more information about historic maps available at Ball State University Libraries.

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