Old maps, old directories

Tanganyika and Zanzibar

When I was growing up, my grandfather, McKinley Green, gave me the maps included in his subscription to National Geographic magazine.

I still have many of those old maps he provided from about 1958 to 1971 when I went to college. For a time, I thought to throw them out. But there’s a fascinating thing about these documents. They become historical relics.

Remember Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, which are now multiple countries? East and West Germany, now one nation? British Guyana and British Honduras, now Guyana and Belize, respectively?

The most interesting, however, were the maps of Africa. Generally, all of the territories controlled by France were green, while the British colonies were pink. (I could be conflating these with other maps of the time.)

I remember when Tanganyika and Zanzibar each became independent of Great Britain before merging into Tanzania in 1964. (And I remembered the year – why IS that?) Northern and Southern Rhodesia became Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively. The Belgian Congo eventually changed to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The maps tell a history. An 18-year-old car is ancient, but one that is 25 years old is antique. Old maps are vintage.

Another choir funeral

I was thinking about this after our most recent choir funeral for one of our basses, Michael. Some of us were trying to recall people who had been in the choir but had moved on, moved away, or passed away. I had some old choir and church directories. They’re not very useful in contacting current members as emails change and cell phones replace landlines. But as historical documents, they’re pretty interesting.

Michael and Jerry were in the choir in the 1980s, left for a time when Jerry was in grad school, then came back at some point after I joined in 2000, and indeed after 2004, per that directory. One cannot rely on one’s memory.

Photos are helpful, too, but they are intrinsically artistic/exciting/attractive/collectible, whereas directories are not.

Or is this just a rationalization for never throwing anything out because I might need the information some day?

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Old maps, old directories”

  1. If you’re ever in Boston, stop by the Christian Science HQ and see the Mapparium! It’s a three-story-high inverted globe that you actually walk through via a glass bridge spanning the globe’s diameter, and you can look all around at the backlit glass panels forming the map of the world. It, too, is an antique like the old NatGeo maps; it hasn’t been updated in decades so you’ll see things like French Indochina and a decidedly colonial notion of Africa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial