Publishing history and development of school atlases and British geography, c.1870–c.1930
My concern in this thesis is with the production of British school atlases between 1870 and 1930. I interpret this particular genre of map and book through the rich resource of the Bartholomew Archive, which holds the business and personal records of the Edinburgh mapmaking firm John Bartholomew & Son. School atlases were instrumental in the dissemination of geographical knowledge at a time when geographers were moulding their subject’s place in the universities and schools in Britain and in parts of the Empire beyond. This thesis builds on concepts in the history of the book, the history of the map and archive history in order to gain knowledge about the people and processes through which this particular type of mapbook was produced, moved and used, and to understand how it was bound up in the development of a discipline. In chapter 1, I outline the main themes of the thesis. The theoretical and methodological ideas underlying it are reviewed in detail in chapter 2. Chapter 3 illuminates the themes threading through the following empirical chapters, providing insight into school atlas production through a consideration of Bartholomew’s production ledgers and what these reveal about the nature of geographical publishing. Interactions between individual atlas producers form the focus of chapter 4, particularly negotiations between publishers, mapmakers, geographers and other professionals over the meaning of ‘author’. In chapter 5, I go on to address atlas production in relation to the pedagogy of regional geography used in schools and, particularly, its impact on school atlases for pupils in ‘local’ settings across the UK. This leads in chapter 6 to an interpretation of how this localising of school atlases was adapted to readers’ locations throughout the British Empire. Questions about readers’ role in the shaping of textual meaning are considered further in chapter 7, which draws on specific instances of producer-reader-atlas interactions to support the argument that reading and reviewing were processes conducted not only, as I show, by readers on the published text but, as I also indicate, they were practices performed by both producers and readers during atlas production. My findings in this thesis shed light on the publishing history of British school atlases, hitherto largely unexamined by historians of the map and historians of geography, and they contribute to our understanding of the production, movement and use of geographical knowledge in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.