Historical Atlas of California with Original Maps

By Derek Hayes, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 2007, ISBN 978-0-520-25258-5, cloth:alk. paper, dust jacket, 256 pages, incl. Catalog of Maps, bibliography, index, 476 maps, all in color, 13 x 10 inches

Rather than give you my own enthusiastic opinion, let me quote a review by Glen Creason, Map Librarian for the Los Angeles (Co.) Public Library.

clip_image002_0012“The Historical Atlas of California is truly a drink of ice water in the desert of map history for the Golden State. Certainly, nothing existing can compare with the pure visual appeal of this latest addition to Derek Hayes’ wonderful historical atlases. This book is a very impressive blend of solid scholarship and impeccable taste in cartographic materials covering the state from the “California as an island” representations to the whimsical joys of Jo Mora’s pictorial masterpieces. This work is a much needed historical overview of the geographic representations of the area and a real map page turner featuring beautiful works of art that also happen to be maps. It never skimps on illustration which makes it a genuine coffee table book and the text makes it a worthy addition to any first-class reference collection. The “Historical Atlas of California” not only fills a great void in historical information on mapping in California, it is just plain fun to page through time and time again. As a map librarian for almost twenty years I have seen few atlases as impressive as this one.”

Derek Hayes has drawn maps from sources all over this state-from local libraries to those of David Rumsey, from the Bancroft to the Huntington, from the  Library of Congress to Sunkist Growers, and from the personal collections of several CMS members. He has spun these images into a well written and highly accurate documentation of the history of our state. In 240 pages of text I found three typos and one slight misinterpretation, but nothing I could carp about. The maps are generally printed large enough to see details. The resolution is good enough that minute text on the full page Jo Mora map at left can be read with the naked eye. Colors are true and accurate.

The author is a Canadian and has been publishing similar works for at least the last eight years. His last book,Historical Atlas of the United States, was published in 2006. He is currently working on an Historical Atlas of the Southwest, another volume for the University of California Press, due out in 2008.

How do you publish a profusely illustrated book of this type for the price? Simple, print 5000 copies in China. The binding is cloth over board and plain but the dust jacket is a gorgeous view of San Francisco in 1877 (see above).

Reviewed by Bill  Warren
From the Society’s December 2007 Newsletter