By Eleonore Dixon-Roche
Most of us have looked at maps, diagrams and various pictorial forms of communication without much thought as to how that image came to be. We take for granted the visual aids that are handed to us without much thought to the process of how they got there. Maps are a wonderful form of pictorial communication. They possess the beauty of something that we inherently understand with an overlay of information. They can be as simple as showing the terrain, to showing the diversity of species in a given area. It seems so evident that when an explorer comes back from a voyage and has a list of coordinates from collection sites that a map is called for. Looking over a list of locations can be quite a vapid experience for the casual reader, but a visual aid such as a map can offer some stimulation and help in spatial understanding.
The Field Book Project has vast amounts of information from the trips researchers have taken in the field. Although it is impractical to include every bit of information in a field book in a single map, it can give instant insight into the places they have been and some reason as to why, without having to read through pages of descriptions. Researchers often need to read through vast amounts of literature in order to find needed information. A map distills that information, because let’s face it, how many times have you been searching for something and gone instantly to Google Images instead of reading the lengthy article?
The years in and around 1939-1945 meant a time of war and tragedy for most of the world. Chapin's travels are a useful reminder that even in a time of war, research and travels continue. This map is a short visual overview of the destinations that he went to on his search for entomological specimens. At that time, travel whether in wartime or not, was neither the easiest nor the most comfortable. However, Chapin covered considerable ground over about a decade. This map focuses on the variety of his travel sites.
I wanted to create a map, at my Scientific Illustration program at California State University, Monterey Bay, that showed the extensive travels that researchers take and Chapin was an excellent example. In order to create this map without breach of copyright and to tailor to one’s specific needs, I took a base map open to the public and traced it in Adobe Illustrator. An icon for location points, a scale, and compass are indispensable in a map. The design itself is intended to have the feel of a field book.
Eleonore was an intern with National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany, 2012, and contributed a post discussing her work with the maps of botanist Joseph Nelson Rock.
For more information about the Edward A. Chapin’s field notes, check out collections SIA Acc. 11-085 and SIA Acc. 12-446 on Smithsonian’s Collection Search Center.