4) Improvements in Printing and the Emergence of Popular Culture
The proliferation of the mechanized printing press and nineteenth-century improvements in lithography, photoengraving, and other printing processes, coincided with the period depicted in Panoramic Maps, 1847-1929. Such strides made it possible to produce multiple inexpensive copies of these maps. These processes also made possible the inexpensive production of song sheets, advertising flyers, magazines, and colorful baseball cards. These materials became far more accessible to the average American during the second half of the nineteenth century and a "popular culture" began to emerge from coast to coast. That is, aspects of culture came to be shared, to greater or lesser degrees, across lines of region, race, religion, politics, and class.
See the collections, Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920, Music for the Nation, 1870-1885, and Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets to learn more about popular music of the era. See Baseball Cards to learn more about another item of popular culture that owed a debt to improved printing techniques.
- Through print, the United States was beginning to refine its self-definition locally, regionally, and nationally. How did the print medium contribute to America's definition of itself as a nation?
- How did the print medium contribute to defining regional and local identities?
- How did the panoramic maps, specifically, contribute to these definitions?
- What are the similarities and differences between the panoramic maps and the other print materials of the time? Consider the audience, subject matter, funding, distribution, and use of these materials.