Thursday, February 01, 2018

Celebrating Black History Month with Maps

Ball Brothers band, Muncie

Excerpt of Great Escape: The Unbelievable Story of Henry Brown

Mignonette Club of Muncie
Other Side of Middletown Photographs

Excerpt from Black History: Moments that Changed the World

Ezzard  Charles and John Bragg
Other Side of Middletown Photographs

Excerpt from Fashion Forward: The Life of Ann Cole Lowe, 
the First African-American High-Fashion Designer

Hurley Goodall, Muncie

Great Moments in Black History on the Map

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed a Joint Resolution submitting to the states the proposed 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  The 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in the United States.  In December of that year, the 13th Amendment was ratified. 

The Ball State University Libraries GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) created a new collection of custom maps in celebration of Black History Month.  The first map in the series, Great Escape: The Unbelievable Story of Henry Brown, depicts important places in the life of Henry “Box” Brown.  The map (above, click to enlarge) is based on the children’s book Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (available from the Educational Technology and Resources Collection in the lower level of Bracken Library).  The book details the story of Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself in a box from Virginia to Philadelphia to escape slavery.  (This map will be displayed in the front windows of the GRMC through February).

The other series maps will be featured in a community presentation at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts.  Heroes of Black History: Great Escapes will chronicle the stories about men and women who escaped from slavery in the South prior to the Civil War, including Frederick Douglass and Margaret Garner, whose story inspired the Toni Morrison novel Beloved.  The presentation will be held in the Colonnade Room at the Cornerstone Center on Thursday, February 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.

The GRMC includes a large collection of unique maps describing the people, places, and important events in African-American history.  Black History: Moments that Changed the World is a map in the GRMC based on the Charles R. Smith, Jr. book, 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World.  This map was created in 2017 and features some of the watershed moments in African-American history, like the birthplace of Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, and Marian Anderson and the story of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who founded the first African American-owned hospital in the country.

The GRMC also has custom maps about the Negro League Baseball teams, the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, and Madam C.J. Walker.  And the GRMC created custom maps about lesser known yet important people in African-American history like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and designer Ann Cole Lowe. 

The GRMC also created a map of Muncie during the 1950’s that highlights African American-owned businesses.  The map is based on the book A History of Negroes in Muncie by local historian Hurley Goodall and J. Paul Mitchell.  (This book is available from the General Collection or Archives and Special Collections in Bracken Library).  Another map created by the GRMC identifies important events in Indiana’s civil rights history.  All of the maps circulate from the GRMC and may be used for classroom research and exhibits.  (Digital copies of the maps are available upon request).

For more information about the Cornerstone Center for the Arts Black History Month program or any of the cartographic resources from the GRMC, please contact Melissa Gentry at 765-285-1097.

(Other Side of Middletown Photographs Collection available here).

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