Is that near Hawaii?

hand-drawn map of the world on a piece of notebook paper
Tony Gonzalez, 2021 [The World]

Tony drew this map for his three-year-old daughter when she inquired about their upcoming trip to a North Carolina island. She asked, “Is that near Hawaii?” In response, he provided an impromptu geography lesson with this accurate memory map of the continents. The pink highlighter shows where she has traveled and the pink dots indicate where she hopes to visit.

Neighborhood Memories

Today’s maps from the archive will hopefully inspire you to draw a map of your neighborhood.

hand drawn map of Woodbridge Connecticut
Aura Seltzer, 2010, [Woodbridge, Connecticut] original HDMA web archive: map 291

Drawn entirely from memory, Aura depicted her hometown of Woodbridge, Connecticut as it existed during her childhood. The map includes travel time (in green) to reference the distances between places as well as details such as the best trick-or-treating and a stop sign that was repeatedly vandalized by teenagers.

Sabine Schmidt, 2011 [various locations] original HDMA web archive: map 302

Sabine’s map combines memories of her childhood growing up in Germany with glimpses of her current life in Arkansas. She uses the street layout of her German neighborhood to create a visual structure. She then fills the blocks with text derived from the free association of childhood memories and her contemporary daily routine.

Stairs up to our apartment

Ace Kieffer (drawn at Baltimore DIY Festival), Stairs up to our apartment, 2009 [Baltimore, Maryland]

Ace drew this diagram to document the apartment he shared with two roommates. I’m posting it today it to provide some additional inspiration for Activity 3: Home Poem. Imagine, for example, a similar diagram of your home where the names of rooms are replaced by text found in each space. Ding ding ding! Light bulb!

How big is Canada? 5 days drive.

Jeff Werner, 7000 km, 2008 [Canada] original HDMA web archive: map 47

Some of the best maps in the HDMA collection relate geographic concepts often drawn to accompany a conversation about a particular place. Those shown here attempt to relate the size and scale of one of the largest countries by total land area, Canada. Jeff Werner drew the map above to explain the size and orientation of the country and the rest of North America to a group of villagers in Bali.

The map below was drawn on a napkin by Peter Flemming for Lars Midboe during a conversation they were having in a bar in Trondheim, Norway. Midboe found the map months later in a bag and scanned it into his computer for safekeeping.

Peter Flemming (found by Lars Midboe), 5 days drive, 2003 [Canada] original HDMA web archive: map 85

Maps Have Feelings Too

In revisiting the collection of the Hand Drawn Map Association, I decided to start with this map. It is, as best as I can remember, the first hand-drawn map I collected. I rescued it from the trash at the 2000 World Curling Championships held from April 1 to April 9 at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. I traveled there with my father who was promoting the upcoming 2002 World Curling Championships which would be held in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Unknown (found by Kris Harzinski), Location Map, 2000 [United States; found in Glasgow, Scotland]

At the time, I had no intention to collect maps but was instead drawn to the object as a souvenir. Years later I was going through some old paperwork and found this map, along with a few others, in a random file folder. This re-finding of the map inspired me to start this website and begin to collect similar maps people draw for one another.

Drawn from memory, it indicates the relative position of Bismarck to the rest of the United States and Canada. The map offers a fairly accurate representation of the Midwest but is less precise in its effort to depict the East Coast. Note, especially, the placement of Pennsylvania. Typical of hand-drawn maps that illustrate great distances, this example also demonstrates a significant scale shift in its representation of Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland.

Memory maps that chart the location of the US states without referencing any additional resources are common. Below is another map of the United States drawn from memory. No glaring misplacements here, but take note of the shape of Oklahoma. Accuracy isn’t really the goal. These maps are not intended for navigation but instead are meant as explanatory tools or tests of personal geographic aptitude.

Jennifer McTague, The United States of America in My Mind, 2006 [United States]