Morse's Map of Asia

Morse's Map of Asia

While doing a reconnaissance of the Pinery Antiques Market near Grand Bend, ON, as a possible venue for L&P vending, I came across a battered copy of the 1858 edition of Morse's School Geography in one of the stalls.  


Morse's was apparently one of the most widely used geography text books in American schools in the 19th century. According to the information in the preface of this copy, this edition was already the 26th published since the first one compiled by the Reverend Dr. Morse, father of the author of this "new" edition, appeared in 1784.

Naturally, my first mission was to find out if there were any maps of Asia inside.  Indeed there were! Several, in fact. I was happy to pay the asking price of $45 for it, especially since the lot included 2 other geography texts, one from the 1860s (more on that one in a future post), and one from 1916, and also because he graciously agreed to throw in an empty picture frame that I'd been looking at as well.     

In today's post, we'll examine the map of Asia, along with its description, and in future posts we'll look at individual countries and regions.  

Here's the complete page from the book:

The edges are of the page are quite damaged, but the map itself is in fairly good shape.  Here's a closer view:

Note the old-fashioned names, e.g. "Hindoostan" for India.  Note also that we know now as Southeast Asia is identified as "Further India."  I was pleased to see that Korea is correctly identified, which is not something you can rely on in European maps of Asia in this period.  Morse has given the spelling with a C rather than a K, but that was actually the conventional spelling in English before the 20th century.  

A page of information about Asia is also given:

It might be difficult to read, so I've typed out the general information about the continent, along with the questions that students would have had to answer after reading it:


Square miles, 15,700,000. — Population, 390,000,000. — Pop to sq.m., 25.

1.  Asia is the largest and most populous of the grand divisions of the globe.

2.  It contains one third of the land surface, and more than one half of the population of the earth.

3.  The dense population is chiefly in China and India.  Siberia and Tartary are thinly populated.

4.  Asia was the cradle of the human race.  here the ark rested after the flood, and here was the tower of Babel, built when all men spoke one language.  

5.  Asia was the theatre of nearly all the great events recorded in the Bible.  Here our Savior was born, lived, and died, and here chiefly his apostles labored.

6.  In Asia originated all the wide-spread religions, Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedism, Boodhism, &c.  

7.  The governments are generally absolute despotisms.  

8.  The Asiatics are noted for transmitting their institutions, manners, and usages, unaltered, from age to age.

9.  The Western Asiatics wear long, flowing robes, turbans instead of hats, and sandals instead of shoes.

10.  They are fond of pomp, and of a display of jewels on their persons and their military accoutrements.  

11.  In their writings the Orientals use a highly figurative style, abounding in extravagant hyperbole.

12.  The beard, over all Western Asia, is allowed to grow, and is regarded with reverence.  

13.  Polygamy is general in Western and Southern Asia, and the female sex are in a very degraded state.

Questions. —1. For what is Asia noted? 2. extent? 3. population? 4. How is Asia connected with early history? 5. with Bible history? 6. religions? 7. governments? 8. institutions and manners? 9,10. dress? 11. writings? 12. beard? 13. condition of females?

Don't you love 19th century prose?

Stay tuned for upcoming posts highlighting maps and descriptions of individual countries and regions.  If you know anyone who would be interested in reading these materials, please share.  The easiest way to do so is to share the related post from the L&P Facebook page.  

Posted on 01/08/2017 by David Gemeinhardt Maps 0

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