A rare and detailed plan of Boston by Osgood Carleton, taken from the 1796 second edition of John West’s Boston Directory. This plan’s relatively large scale enables it to depict Boston in greater detail than any map of the town since before the American Revolution. The street layout is shown and all streets named, as […]
“Mathematical practitioner” Osgood Carleton (1724-1816) of Boston is remembered today for his considerable output of important maps of American subjects. Among the best known are seminal maps of Boston, Massachusetts, Maine and the United States, often produced in partnership with Boston engraver and publisher John Norman. Carleton was sufficiently well respected that other mapmakers, such as Norman as well as Matthew Clark, solicited his “seal of approval” on their work.
A classic “hard-luck” story, Osgood Carleton sought to make ends meet by engaging in a wide variety of professional activities involving applied mathematics: “Income and a certain celebrity resulted from his various published endeavors, but teaching and surveying formed the pillars of Carleton’s livelihood. The ledger of his career, like those of many other practitioners, resembles a catalogue of occupations that reflects an enterprise and opportunism born of economic necessity.” (Bosse, p. 143)
The single best summary of Carleton’s life and work may be found in David Bosse’s “ Osgood Carleton: Mathematical Practitioner of Boston,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 107 (1995), pp. 141-164.