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May 2014

Lecture: Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the Eighteenth Century

David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps at Historic Deerfield, explores “Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the Eighteenth Century,” at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Saturday, June 7 at 2 pm. The lecture is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

For much of the 18th century, map publishing in America was a financially precarious undertaking. The same held true in Boston, where individuals from many walks of life ventured into commercial mapmaking. Bosse's lecture will explore the work of several Boston mapmakers during an era of ad-hoc publishing.

Map Osgood-Carleton DP3DBThe image to the right shows the 1798 first edition of Osgood Carleton's map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, held by our Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives. Carleton, a veteran of both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War and one of the few Americans trained in military engineering and mapmaking, established himself as a leader among American mapmakers of the post-Revolutionary period. From his shop on Oliver's Dock in Boston, he published navigation and mathematics textbooks as well as maps of Boston, Massachusetts, the District of Maine, New Hampshire, the United States, nautical charts, and a marine atlas, in addition to running a school for navigation, mathematics, and cartography.

Map Osgood-Carleton DP4DBCarleton's "Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" was the first official map of the new state, an idea he proposed to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1794. Massachusetts sorely needed this instrument to monitor and stimulate settlement, commerce, and development of transportation networks. (Previous regional mapping projects on this scale dated back to the 1750s, such as the map discussed in our earlier blog post.) Because the new Federal government was unable to provide support and the Commonwealth was also short on cash, Osgood funded this large-scale project through the support of many individual subscribers. The complex undertaking became frought with problems when not all Massachusetts towns were able to complete accurate new surveys of the lands within their bounds.

for monitoring and stimulating settlement, commerce, and development of transportation networks; as well as for delineating public lands available for sale. With a relatively weak Federal government unable to provide support and themselves short on cash, states had to come up with creative models for funding these labor intensive projects.
- See more at: http://www.bostonraremaps.com/catalogues/BRM1315.HTM#sthash.jss8KTvy.dpuf

To hear more about Carelton's "Accurate Map," as well as other tales of Boston cartographers, please join us and our speaker on Saturday, June 7th. David Bosse is Librarian of Historic Deerfield and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, and curator of maps at Historic Deerfield. He formerly served as curator of maps at the Clements Library of the University of Michigan, and assistant map curator at the Newberry Library, Chicago. His research on the early American map trade has appeared in Mapping Boston (MIT Press, 1999), the journal Cartographica, and in the online journal, Coordinates.

This talk is part of the Museum's 2014 lecture series: “Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History.” Starting in September, we will have three more map-related programs in this series related to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library’s collection of historic maps:

Saturday, September 13, 2 PM
Reinventing the Map
Susan Schulten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Denver

Saturday, October 4, 2 PM
Cartographic Encounters: Native Americans in the Exploration and Mapping of North America
John Rennie Short, Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Saturday, November 22, 10 AM – 12:30 PM
Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools
Registration is required; click here for more information.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.


David Bosse, "The Boston Map Trade of the Eighteenth Century." In: Alex Krieger and David Cobb, eds., with Amy Turner. Mapping Boston (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1999), p. 51.

For more information on the Carleton map, click here and here.

Image credits:

An Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…, [1798].  Osgood Carleton (1742-1816).  Boston, Massachusetts.  Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, 75.19.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Detail, An Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…, [1798].  Osgood Carleton (1742-1816).  Boston, Massachusetts.  Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, 75.19.  Photograph by David Bohl.

A Fife with Two Owners: Part of “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection”

Fife 83_28_2DP1DBOpening June 14, 2014 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, the exhibition “Prized Relics:  Historic Souvenirs from the Collection” will examine different kinds of relics from homes and families, travels, historic sites and Masonic lodges and the ways these preserved fragments can help us understand the past.  

In preparing for this exhibition, museum staff had the opportunity to examine some underexplored objects in our collection.  One that captured my imagination was this small brown fife, pictured at the left, used to make music during the Civil War.  Curatorial records note that this fife belonged to Joseph Warren Batchelder (1842-1926) of New Hampshire.  In looking at the fife, it is easy to see Batchelder’s initials incised onto the body of the instrument, along with place names and dates. The simple shapes of the letters forming the inscriptions on the instrument, as well as the cramped spacing of information incised onto the fife’s body, suggest that the various inscriptions were recorded on the fife by its owner, perhaps over a few years. 

Research supports the story that came with the fife when it entered the collection. Enlistment records show that Private Joseph W. Batchelder of Manchester, New Hampshire, joined the 10th New Hampshire Regiment on August 11, 1862, and served in Company A. In 1864 he earned promotion to the rank of Principal Musician.  On his fife, Batchelder incised the names of some of the different places he traveled to and battles he fought in with his regiment including the Battle of Fredericksburg [Virginia] in 1862; the Siege of Suffolk [Virginia] in 1863; and the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff [Virginia] and Cold Harbor, Virginia, in 1864; and Richmond, Virginia, in 1865. 

In an effort to read the inscriptions on the fife more clearly, I took a look underneath the pewter mouthpiece that had been loosely attached to it and noticed a second, smaller set of notes scratched into the fife’s surface by “M. T. T.”   This record-keeper also noted the letters NYSV (or NY2V) along with the places and dates, Binghamton, New York, 1861, and New Berne, North Carolina, 1862.  A quick look at the Civil War enlistment records turned up a likely candidate as the inscriber--Milton T. Tyrell (b. 1839) of Canton, New York.  He had joined the 103rd New York Infantry, Company I as a musician in January, 1861, at Elmira, New York.  A regimental history included a short biography of Tyrell and mentioned that when he became a member of the regiment, he:  “entered into the spirit of the soldier, drilling in squad drill with the boys…as well as practicing the army calls with fife and drum.” 

Finding that two men marked their names on this fife prompts the question, how did Tyrell’s fife become Batchelder’s fife?  Histories of the 10th New Hampshire Regiment and the 103rd New York Infantry tell us that both Tyrell’s and Batchelder’s regiments traveled to Washington, D. C. in the fall of 1862.  Was the fife lost, sold, traded or stolen in that city?  We may never know how the fife changed hands, but this intriguing object offers us a glimpse into how two men recorded and remembered their war experiences. 

Photo credit:

Fife, ca. 1861. United States. Gift of George P. Wadsworth, 83.28.2.  Photograph by David Bohl. 


History and Personal Sketches of Company I, 103, N. Y. S. V., 1862-1864 (Elmira, New York:  The Facts Printing Co., 1900).

Rainbow Girls and the Pledge of Allegiance in 1943

Pledge of Allegiance noteWhile cataloging a Rainbow Girls ritual from 1939 to add to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection, I was struck by an "Important Notice" (pictured at left) pasted inside the front cover. William Perry Freeman, Supreme Worthy Advisor of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls issued an edict on February 20, 1943, "changing the instructions relative to the proper salute to the American Flag." Freeman's edict followed on the heels of a U.S. Congressional amendation of the Flag Code [pdf] on December 22, 1942 that changed the way Americans saluted the flag.

Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, which was first published in the children's magazine The Youth's Companion in 1892. The original pledge simply read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" and was recited using a salute often called the "Bellamy salute" in tribute to the Pledge's author.

Children - the original audience for the Pledge of Allegiance - were instructed: "at the words 'to my Flag,' the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side." For decades, this is how Americans, including those in fraternal youth organizations, saluted when reciting the Pledge.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Italian Fascists and German Nazis had adopted salutes very similar in form to the "Bellamy salute." On December 22, 1942, Congress passed Public Law 77-829, containing amendments to the Flag Code, including Section 7, which replaced the Bellamy salute with the right-hand-over-heart salute familiar to Americans today. Americans and American organizations, including civic, patriotic, and fraternal organizations, quickly followed suit, as the amended Rainbow Girl ritual pictured above shows.


W. Mark Sexson. Ritual: Order of the Rainbow for Girls. McAlester, Oklahoma: Supreme Assembly, 1939.
Call number: 84 .R154 S518 1939 c.2
Gift of Virginia Hicks Mitchell