United States, 1821
Amanda M. Armstrong (1808-1855)
Gift of her great-great-niece, Mrs. Hazel Wilson, 1958.263.1
United States, 1822
Gift of her great-great-niece, Mrs. Hazel Wilson, 1958.263.2
While boys in early America were frequently taught the practical execution of surveys and charts, maps like this were primarily made by girls to show off the maker’s artistic skill and penmanship. Geography lessons helped to cultivate a growing sense of American identity in a young nation.
These opportunities were not available to everyone. Most towns in the northeast provided public education that included reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three “R”s), but higher education including geography, drawing, and penmanship was only available for wealthy Americans. Amanda and Harriet Armstrong probably made these maps at the Union Academy in downtown Bennington or a small private school operated out of a teacher’s house. If you look at each one carefully, you will notice that one sister did a better job.