One of my grandsons goes to a Montessori school where the four-year-olds make lots of maps. They use templates to trace the continents (above).
Which is why I was intrigued to see a delightful National Geographic article about the map juvenalia of professional cartographers.
Betsy Mason wrote, “So many of the cartographers I’ve gotten to know while writing about maps seem to genuinely love their jobs.
It’s one of those professions with a disproportionate number of people who are really happy to be there.
“I suspect that one reason for this could be that many of them have loved maps since they were kids, and they’ve managed to turn that love into a career.
“This collection of childhood maps made by eight professional cartographers backs up that theory. I interviewed each of them about their early mapmaking, how they found their way into cartography, and what they love about their jobs today.
“Their stories all have their individual quirks, but there are some common threads. Several of them recall spending family trips poring over a road atlas in the back seat, for example. And some can still recall the precise moment when they knew they would make maps for a living.”
Here is Mason’s report on one of the two female mapmakers in the article.
“A class assignment to map out a family fire-escape plan probably seemed like more than just an exercise to young Rosemary Wardley. A couple of years earlier, some sheds behind her house had caught on fire.
” ‘I’m sure that was in the back of my mind,’ she says.
“And that’s likely why none of the paths she drew for her family members went out the back door toward the sheds. On the other hand, she deemed it perfectly safe to direct her oldest sister to jump into a pine tree outside of a second-story window …
“The hallway outside of ‘Rosie’s room’ was covered in U.S. Geological Survey topographical maps, and this wall was often Wardley’s first stop after a drive or a hike.
” ‘I always kind of went back there and had my dad point out where we had gone,’ she says. ‘Thinking back, that’s definitely the biggest thing that influenced me as a cartographer. It just made me have that love of geography.’
“Today, Wardley works at National Geographic, where she says the cartography is very collaborative. She makes maps for stories such as a photographer’s trek across China, but a lot of her time is spent editing and working with the data that goes into the maps. It’s the variety that appeals to her most, she says.”
Thank you for putting the link on Facebook, Asakiyume. I wouldn’t have known about this otherwise.