In 1984, the book Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900 by James C. Martin and Robert Sidney Martin, also published by the University of New Mexico Press, initiated what has become a growing number of volumes of states' historical maps. This atlas by Peter L. Eidenbach is New Mexico's entry, on the occasion of its statehood centennial. While Eidenbach is not a historian of cartography, he is a long-time archeologist, historian, historic preservationist, and faculty member at New Mexico State University, Alamogordo.
In creating a compendium of maps to represent a state and tell its story over time, many authors have considerable difficulty in gaining an easy familiarity with the relevant body of cartography and then selecting the right exemplars from it. Judging from his final product, Eidenbach seems to have been relatively successful in overcoming that difficulty. The 89 maps excellently reproduced here in large-format full color and supported by the author's scholarly commentary thoroughly treat the period from the middle of the sixteenth century to the coming of World War II.
Abraham Ortelius's 1570 map of the Americas from the first modern atlas is the first to show the results of the explorations of the Spanish entradas in the Greater Southwest. Enrico Martínez's map of 1602 is the first of Nuevo Mexico. And the 1758 and 1777-1779 cartography of Captain Bernardo Miera y Pacheco of the Royal Corps of Engineers is the most significant for the entire Spanish era. The somewhat controversial maps of New Spain in 1810-1811 by the great German scientist Alexander von Humboldt [End Page 108] and Lieutenant Zebulon Pike of the U.S. Army mark the beginning of the American period of cartography. The scientific and quite beautiful New Mexican area maps from the massive systematic survey of the American West carried out by Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1872-1884 are given their due prominence. In his explanations, Eidenbach puts each map into its historical context and does not neglect some of the more important overarching themes such as the role of the military, Spanish and American, in the scientific mapping of the region. Another real plus of this volume, confirmed in its cartobibliography, is that all of its maps are online at various sites and readily downloadable for closer scrutiny.
If the compendium has a problem, it is one of emphasis. Of its 89 maps, 28 are from the brief period of 1836-1865, from the coming of the Mexican-American War to the end of the American Civil War. Given that the historiography of New Mexico too is particularly predisposed in this regard, the presence of this cartographic over-concentration is somewhat understandable if not excusable. There are also no maps for the immediate statehood era; there is in fact a noticeable gap in the cartography for the years 1890-1918. Last, there are only three maps for the twentieth century to 1941, and it is rather regrettable that the scope of the book does not include the time from the Second World War to the present. This is a period rich in maps reflecting New Mexico's boosterism and tourism, energy extraction and related industries, and scientific and technological developments, among others.
Despite the comparatively minor limitations already mentioned, Eidenbach has created an important and handsome volume about New Mexico and the Greater Southwest for New Mexicans and those interested in them. It is easily among the best of the state atlases of this type. Furthermore, it clearly demonstrates that maps are vital and complex sources for historical research and not simply attractive illustrations for its results.