An illustrated chapter on the renowned Michigan map expert Louis Karpinski opens this volume, following a comparative introduction by the noted cartographic historian David Buisseret. Twelve chapters tell particular stories. Often these narratives extend well beyond the limits of today's state of Michigan. Ameican Indian mapmakers sought to give directions and convey cosmological meanings and political relationships; only gradually did they adopt the geometric framing and uniformity of European maps, which reflected a different set of cultural attitudes. Would-be colonial governors mapped to promote their dreams. Boundary commissioners surveyed and mapped to settle contested claims and lay the foundations for peace along the U.S.-Canadian border. On the Canadian side, surveyors drew maps to build up the new British colony against American influences and encroachments. Mapmakers were also ambitious entrepreneurs, peddling illustrated county atlases to proud farm owners, bird's-eye views to show off towns, and plat and insurance maps to aid property development.
In describing how people produced and used maps, contributors tell a larger story of one region's peoples and cultures—and of a nation's zeal for exploration.