A rare 1945 pictorial map by Louise E. Jefferson, remarkable for its compassionate and inclusive look at the massive population dislocations inside the United States brought about by the Second World War.
A panel at lower left provides context for the map:
“Since 1940, 25,000,000 Americans have been physically uprooted. They are part of a world that is on the move—service men and women and their families, industrial workers, diplomats and office clerks, refugees and all other victims of war—men, women, young people, and children of all races and nations and classes.”
The image is remarkable at a number of levels. To begin with, it is the first map of my acquaintance to focus on the social costs and impact of the Second World War. Most pictorial maps of the period, such as this classic by Lambert Guenther, tend to offer more of an “Arsenal of Democracy”-type message, intended to appeal to patriotic sentiments and bolster morale. Second, the map is strikingly inclusive in that, though its very lack of commentary, it puts “Japanese relocation centers” and “Mexican migration” on the same footing as, for example, “abandoned” homes, farms and villages in the heartland.
Also of note is the map’s maker, illustrator and photographer Louise E. Jefferson (1908-2002). After studying art at Hunter College and Columbia University, she began working as a freelancer for Friendship Press. Founded in 1935, the Press “produced a variety of works that expressed its value commitments and support for the health and welfare of children, constructive race relations, church missions, vibrant culture, and peace among nations.” (friendshippress.org) She rose quickly to become Friendship’s artistic director in 1942, according to Wikipedia making her “the first African American to hold a director’s position in the publishing industry.” During this period she produced a large number of pictorial maps with an immediately-recognizable visual style, such as Americans of Negro Lineage (1946) and China: A Friendship Map. The theme of disruption and dislocation seemed to interest her; prior to Uprooted People of the U.S.A., she had issued Indians of the U.S.A., which explicitly addressed the dislocation of native American peoples. After retirement she continued to produce freelance design work but also spent much of her time on travel and research in Africa, which eventually yielded her best-known work, Decorative Arts of Africa. (1974) Three linear feet of her papers, including original artwork and several of her maps, sold at Swann for $10,000 in 2018… a steal.
OCLC 13419533 and 79789420, together giving holdings at Columbia, Harvard, Library of Congress, University of Illinois, Penn State and Wisconsin Historical Society (Sept. 2020). Another example is held at the Amistad Research Center, in the papers of Louise E. Jefferson.