Mammoth historical map of the United States by educator Eugenia Almira Wheeler Goff

A. Wheeler Goff / Rand McNally & Co., Map Publishers, HISTORICAL MAP OF THE UNITED STATES. SHOWING THE LOCATIONS OF The Principal Historical Events FROM THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA TO THE PRESENT TIME. Minneapolis: National Historical Publishing Co., 1887.
Wall map on two sheets joined, 59”h x 61 ¼”w at neat line plus margins, printed in black with overprinting in several colors. Backed with linen, with pink selvage along vertical edges, and mounted on dowels, presumably as issued. A bit of cracking at top and a few areas of slight discoloration at left, and perhaps 3” detaching from dowel at lower right. Withal, in stellar condition for such a large 19th-century wall map.

A mammoth, unusual and very rare historical wall map by educator, author, mapmaker and publisher Eugenia Almira Wheeler Goff of Minnesota.

Goff’s map depicts the United States as far west as the Great Plains, including all or part of the Dakota Territory, Kansas, Indian Territory and Texas. The map’s enormous size—roughly five feet square—enables her to cram in an enormous amount of information. Most salient is the use of color-coded lines to delineate the geographic scope, troop movements and other major events of the French and Indian War (grey), Revolutionary War (green and red), War of 1812 (yellow), Civil War (brown) and “Indian Wars” (black). Hundreds of text notes recount major voyages of exploration, provide capsule histories of major cities, and recount important military and political events. No fewer than 13 insets detail the paths of explorers, phases of American territorial acquisition, the Mexican War, and campaigns and battles of the Civil War. In all, a conventional 19th-century take on the history of the United States, presented in a most unconventional fashion.

Though it’s not known whether they had any direct connection, Goff may well have been inspired by the cartographic work of Emma Willard, a pioneer in both women’s education and the graphic display of historical information. While Willard’s maps were simpler and more elegant, and often made use of interesting mnemonic devices, both women believed that text alone was insufficient for the teaching of history, and both employed clever graphic design to place historical events in their geographic context. Indeed the prefatory text to the separately published Index (OCLC 21541686, not included here) could almost have been written by Willard:

“The events of National Importance from the earliest discovery of America by the Norsemen to the present time, are delineated and so presented as to PHOTOGRAPH UPON THE MIND THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY.

“By the use of the HISTORICAL MAP, events are indissolubly associated in the mind with geographical locations. Both events and locations are learned at the same time, and so learned as to become permanently fixed in the memory.” (preface to Index References to the Historical Map of the United States)

Eugenia Almira Wheeler Goff (1844-1922)
Eugenia Almira Wheeler was born in Monroe County, New York, but her family moved to Winona, Minnesota in 1859. She was educated at the State Normal School (a “Normal School” being one dedicated to training teachers), and after graduating in 1859 worked there for eight years and at other teacher-training institutions for another nine. During these years she wrote Minnesota, Its Geography, History and Resources (1876), which was adopted for use throughout the state and “was the first to combine history, resources and geography” (Scanlon and Cosner), whatever that means!

Eugenia married Henry Slade Goff in 1882, and in 1887 they together established the National Historical Publishing Company. “For twenty-five years, Eugenia did the historical research and designed historical maps and charts, which eventually numbered over 100 and ranged from book size to large wall maps.” (Scanlon and Cosner) Indeed, when it came to churning out historical maps on a mammoth scale, Eugenia Goff was something of a machine. In 1890 the Company came out with a new series, Goff’s Historical Maps of the United States, beginning with No. 1[:] Discoveries and Explorations. In 1899 they published Goff’s historical map of the Spanish-American War in the West Indies. And between 1905 and 1907 they issued a set of at least five wall maps of similar size (50” x 38”), all focusing on various aspects of American history (One of these, focusing on events of the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, may be viewed here.) In 1893 the Goffs also published The United States and Her Neighbors, an instructional text heavily illustrated with maps.

In all, a rare and striking historical map of the United States, in remarkably good condition.

OCLC 61692216 et al, giving holdings at the Library of Congress, Newberry Library, State Historical Society of North Dakota, University of British Columbia, and Wisconsin Historical Society. This edition not in Phillips, Maps of America, which does however list an edition published in Chicago by A. H. Andrews & Co. in 1889. Background on Goff from Scanlon and Cosner, American Women Historians, 1700s-1990s: A Biographical Dictionary, p. 90.