Maps have always fascinated me.

When I first studied maps and globes in a unit on the explorers in elementary school, I traced the route of Henry Hudson as he attempted to find a northwest passage to the exotic land of China. We children already knew that the land of Marco Polo could be reached if we could only dig and dig and dig a hole just a little deeper. Around the same time, I traced the journey of Laura Ingalls and her pioneer family while reading The Little House books.

A few years later, I imagined the Yorkshire moors as depicted by Charlotte Bronte and her sister Emily. My inspiration continued to be rooted in a book, yet my visualization of the setting was enhanced by a topographic map. As I read Charlotte Bronte’s words, I once again journeyed to another time and sometimes another land.

"My sister Emily loved the moors. Flowers 
brighter than the rose bloomed in the blackest 
of the heath for her ; out of a sullen hollow in a livid hill-side her mind could make an Eden. 
She found in the bleak solitude many and dear 
delights ; and not the least and best loved was 

Is it the freedom to select “the [road] less traveled by”, explore the unknown, follow your hero’s journey, or perhaps an intangible yearning that draws you forward? For me, my life’s journey always begins with a story. Whether it is history, world literature, or words heard in passing, I have the desire to preserve the moment and begin to annotate, research, plot the points on a map and take the first step towards an unrealized and occasionally realized journey. Although I do not always physically arrive at a new location, my unrealized journeys are accompanied by the thrill of exploring a new territory. That yearning never wanes.

I hear the words…

Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide”

and I begin again…

  • Who is your muse?
  • What inspires you?
  • How do you explore?
  • What do maps mean to you?

Follow this site for more posts about the value of maps for historians and family history researchers.

Dutchess County

Map of Dutchess County, New York 1877; New York Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division “From The New York Public Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s