These two albums of cuttings show the progress of the First World War through the essentially ephemeral medium of maps for newspapers; being the method the ordinary person could follow the progress of the war visually. The maps were small scale and general with a strong basic message which had to overcome the disadvantages of poor quality paper and usually small size. Arrows on the map would have covered miles on the ground!
These maps were not drawn or published to be kept, they were to describe a short period of time which would soon be superseded. In an era without 24 hour rolling news on screens everywhere, these ephemeral maps and illustrations were very important to provide context.
See this map of the Battle of Messines (7th-14th June 1917) which is in its infancy so much that the newspaper maps have yet to have a title.
Newspaper illustrators did not confine themselves to just to maps as you can see from the diorama sinking of the Lusitania. The diagram gives circumstances of the disaster which would have resonated as there were 123 Americans out of the total 1,195 lost souls.
Another example is the map Location of Mid-West Men which would have particular relevance to our trans Atlantic allies.
By being a snapshot in time they provide researchers a very interesting contemporary view of the ebb and flow of the situation on the ground and not a full historical record with all the benefits of hindsight.
Depictions of Europe continue after the Armistice was signed until 1st February 1919. Maps appeared afterwards concerning the changing political situation and the fate of Germany.
The scrapbooks here was bequeathed by Walter Newton Henry Harding, an interesting character and prodigious collector. The story of his vast collections and how they ended up at the Bodleian is the story for another blog but among the 22 tons of material were these two albums full of maps and diagrams cut from Chicago newspapers offering a uniquely transatlantic view.
Where the great battles the war in Europe are being fought. [Chicago: Various publishers], 1914-1919. C1 b.97