A rare map of Somerville, Mass.

Martin Draper, Jr. (surveyor) / J.T. Powers & Co.'s Lithography, MAP OF SOMERVILLE, MASS. Drawn from Actual Survey By MARTIN DRAPER, Jr. Published by order of the town. 1852. Boston, 1852.
Lithograph on two sheets joined, 21.75"h x 34"w plus margins, uncolored.

A rare map of an important Massachusetts city.

A richly- detailed map of Somerville, Mass., depicting its boundaries, street plan, and the locations of both major structures and private dwellings. Parts of the surrounding towns of Cambridge, Charlestown, Malden and Medford are also shown, albeit in more schematic form. Several businesses are named on the map itself, while a legend at upper left identifies two churches, eight schools and eight rail stations. The major topographical features are depicted, particularly the large hills at the center of town. The author must have been historically minded, as in two places he identifies the ruins of Revolution-era fortifications and elsewhere he locates the ruins of a convent.

Like many maps of Massachusetts towns issued in the 1850s-primarily but not only by Henry F. Walling-Draper’s was published “by order of the town.” The rationale for these productions seems to be that the State of Massachusetts on occasion required towns to submit up-to-date surveys. These were used to determine land valuations, which in turn would affect the tax assessments levied by the Commonwealth on each town. Hence the note at the base of the map indicating that among other things “the town contains 2700 acres, including water.”

Mapmaker Martin Draper, Jr. had a varied career, none of which would seem to have prepared him to produce this work. According to one source, he

“had attended the district schools in the different parts of Dedham where he had lived, and thus had acquired the rudiments of an education. In 1843, becoming convinced that there was an easier way of obtaining a living than by farming, he entered Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., to fit himself for teaching. After teaching a district school in Dover, Mass., during the Winter of 1843-4, and again in 1844-5, he returned to Andover, and continued his course, being there, in all, four terms. December, 1845, he commenced as teacher of the Walnut Hill School, Somerville, Mass., and Sep. 28, 1846, was elected Principal of the Prospect Hill Grammar School, Somerville. Mr. Draper was a very successful teacher, painstaking, and thorough in his methods of instruction and a superior disciplinarian. After remaining Master of the Prospect Hill School for five years, he resigned and became associated with his brother, Warren F. Draper (1844), in the printing and publishing business at Andover At the end of two years, severing his connection with his brother, he entered the Grocers’ Bank, Boston, as bookkeeper. After filling that position for two years, Apr. 15, 1856, he entered the National Bank of North America, Boston, as messenger, and remained an officer of that institution until his death in 1889 (Thomas Draper, The Drapers in America, 1892, p. 157)

Given this background, it seems highly unlikely that Draper himself conducted the survey on which he based this map.

OCLC #56958430 (giving only the Harvard Map Collection example) and Phillips, Maps of America, p. 791. Another example resides at the Boston Public Library.


Several marginal tears, some extensive, now mended. Small chip in lower right corner with slight loss to neatline. Backed with tissue.