From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, by Mark Monmonier

By Mark Monmonier

Brassiere Hills, Alaska. Mollys Nipple, Utah. Outhouse Draw, Nevada. within the early 20th century, it used to be universal for cities and geographical gains to have salacious, bawdy, or even derogatory names. within the age prior to political correctness, mapmakers quite simply authorised any neighborhood choice for position names, prizing exact illustration over criteria of decorum. hence, summits resembling Squaw Tit—which towered above valleys in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California—found their manner into the cartographic annals. Later, whilst sanctions prohibited neighborhood use of racially, ethnically, and scatalogically offensive toponyms, city names like eastern Valley, California, have been erased from the nationwide and cultural map forever. From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes this little-known bankruptcy in American cartographic historical past through contemplating the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and reply to public difficulty over ethnically offensive appellations. Interweaving cartographic historical past with stories of politics and tool, celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier locates his tale in the previous and current struggles of mapmakers to create an orderly method for naming that avoids confusion, preserves historical past, and serves diversified political goals. Anchored through a various collection of naming controversies—in the us, Canada, Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, and Antarctica; at the ocean flooring and the outside of the moon; and in different elements of our sunlight system—From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow richly unearths the map’s function as a mediated portrait of the cultural panorama. and in contrast to different books that contemplate position names, this can be the 1st to mirror on either the genuine cartographic and political imbroglios they engender. From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow is Mark Monmonier at his best: a discovered research of a well timed and arguable topic rendered accessible—and even entertaining—to the final reader. (20060220)

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Retired schoolteacher Marguerite Doleman, who set up a black history museum in her Hagerstown home, preferred the old name too. ”34 Convinced that the current name was both respectful and historically rooted, the Board on Geographic Names rejected the proposal. Four decades ago the name Negro Mountain would not have been problematic. Newspapers used Negro in headlines and stories, the Census Bureau reported population statistics for Negroes, and most educated Americans, black and white, considered the Spanish word for black more civil than colored and definitely preferable to the N-word, lurking explosively in countless maps and gazetteers.

27 Entries included up to ten attributes: name, feature type, population or elevation, description, county, geographic coordinates, the year of a decision (if any) by the Board on Geographic Names, map number (keyed to an index map showing names of quadrangles), variant names (if any), and the name’s history (if available from a reliable published source). The Delaware gazetteer contains no nigger or squaw toponyms. The closest pejorative I found is an entry for Negro Island, hardly derogatory in the early 1960s.

If field investigation indicated conclusively that a feature was known locally as Chinaman Spring or Dago Gulch, the topographer dutifully recorded it on his names sheet. When a significant feature had no local name, making one up was an accepted practice. S. S. Geographic Board. Under these procedures, topographers had little leeway for concocting pejorative toponyms. The Topographic Instructions listed a selection of five explicit principles that guided board decisions. Although names that suggest “peculiarities of topographic features .

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