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An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, 1550–1941 by Peter L. Eidenbach (review)

From: Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Volume 117, Number 3, January 2014
pp. 321-322 | 10.1353/swh.2014.0004

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Note regarding changes to the book reviews section: The publishing world is undergoing a revolution in product delivery that no longer restricts the choice in book form to cloth or paperback. Electronic and print editions in various formats each require a separate ISBN, prices vary on a frequent basis, and there are increasing opportunities for self-publication that defy traditional bibliographical organization. Consequently, with this issue the editorial board of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly has decided to streamline the headers that introduce book reviews by removing ISBN, format, and pricing information. The rest of the publication data will be provided based on the print copies from which reviews are done, and in those cases where a book appears in electronic format, the publisher’s listing will be employed. We hope the change does not produce too much inconvenience.

New Mexico archaeologist and historian Pete Eidenbach has assembled more than ninety historic maps of the region, from sixteenth-century maps of the New World to early highway maps of the early to mid-twentieth century. Each map—identified by the cartographer and year it was produced—is accompanied by a short introduction about the origins of the map or some unique features or changes from earlier surveys. In many cases a second view of the map is shown—a larger inset usually focused on New Mexico itself. The reader also sees the variety of maps that can be produced—geographical, topographical, even a couple of birds-eye community maps popular in the late 1800s. The cartobibliography at the back includes detailed citations for each map but, even better, nearly all the maps have an internet URL to a high-resolution version of the map that you can study and zoom into in greater detail. The maps are organized in chronological order, divided into seven sections of common periods, so identifying a map of interest is very easily accomplished.

This book is valuable as a reference tool to see how certain places or peoples were depicted on maps over the centuries. In many cases one can trace the past names of specific places now long gone from today’s maps, either because they disappeared or because the original Indian or Spanish name was replaced by a newer Anglo name. There is as much history as there is geography in seeing how depictions of New Mexico have evolved over the decades and centuries.

This atlas is very different than Jerry Williams’s popular New Mexico in Maps (University of New Mexico Press, 1979 and 1986 editions) and Warren Beck’s and Ynez Haase’s Historical Atlas of New Mexico (University of Oklahoma Press, 1969). Eidenbach has gathered “where are you” maps, whereas the others produced a series of historical and topical maps of New Mexico’s present and past. While an updated version of these earlier works would be welcomed by historians and ethnographers today, we can be equally excited to see Eidenbach’s compilation of historical maps. A good companion book to accompany your viewing would be Robert Julyan’s The Place Names of New Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 1996), which has brief descriptions of towns that you may find on some of Eidenbach’s maps.

Eidenbach has performed a valuable service by gathering such a wide variety into a single sourcebook. Looking for individual maps, particularly from the earlier periods, could be quite challenging—even in these days where digitized maps and materials are more widely available on the internet. The author admits that he is among those folks who still prefer to review maps in large cartographic “coffee table” books—this one measures 10 x 14 inches in size. He acknowledges, however, that in changing times the ability to access maps electronically expands the reach of any work. Both of these means helps him meet a stated purpose—to return New Mexico’s “cartographic heritage to its people” (xi). The publication coincides with the state’s celebration of its centenary of statehood, marking an occasion where everyone is reviewing and commemorating not just New Mexico as a state, but its centuries-long history represented in the variety of maps Eidenbach selected for publication.

Copyright © 2014 The Texas State...



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