BPL - Back to School: Geography in the Classroom - Exhibition 9/2/14 - 1/25/15

The Boston Public Library's most recent map center exhibition opens 9/2/14 in the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and focuses on the variety of formats used to engage American school children in developing their geographic skills.  The display includes 40 maps, globes, games, atlases and related objects, going back hundreds of years.

Boston Public Library
Back to School: Geography
in the Classroom
Date / Time
9/2/14 - 1/25/15
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
Boston Public Library
Copley Square
700 Boylston Street.
More Info
The Boston Public Library exhibition, "Back to School: Geography in the Classroom" opens at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library on Tuesday, September 2, and runs through January 25, 2015.

The exhibition, curated by assistant curator Stephanie Cyr, focuses on the variety of formats used to engage American school children in the late 18th to 20th centuries to develop their geographic skills. 

Traditionally viewed as an essential subject for boys’ and girls’ education, geography was taught to American children in primary school, and to young adults studying in high school and college settings.

In this display of 40 maps, globes, games, atlases and related objects, the evolution of geographic education is examined through observing visual aids used by teachers in the classroom and viewing unique student-produced geography projects dating back hundreds of years.

Innocence Abroad Board Game

Image: The Good Old Game of Innocence Abroad, Parker Brothers, Salem, MA, 1888.

An Exhibition for Everyone 

“This exhibition for people of all ages shows the variety of ways students learned from maps in the past,” said Janet Spitz, executive director of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. “Students study and compare maps in our current K-12 education programs and learn to identify multiple perspectives, engage in critical thinking, and construct arguments.”

The Leventhal Map Center is located in the Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street. It is open Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday: 1– 5 p.m.

Exhibition Opening Celebrated

The opening of the exhibition will be celebrated on Thursday, September 11, with refreshments in the Map Center at 5 p.m. and a lecture at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon by Susan Schulten, presenting “Educating a New Nation: Maps and Knowledge in 19th Century America.”


The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center is ranked among the top 10 map centers in the United States for the size of its collection, the significance of its historic (pre-1900) material, and its advanced digitization program. It is unique among the major collections because it also combines these features with exceptional educational and teacher training programs to advance geographic literacy among students in grades K-12 and enhance the teaching of subjects from history to mathematics to language arts. The collection is also the second largest in the country located in a public library, ensuring unlimited access to these invaluable resources for scholars, educators, and the general public.

The Leventhal Map Center, created in 2004, is a nonprofit organization established as a public-private partnership between the Boston Public Library and philanthropist Norman Leventhal. Its mission is to use the Boston Public Library’s permanent collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases and a select group of rare maps collected by Mr. Leventhal for the enjoyment and education of all through exhibitions, educational programs, and a website that includes thousands of digitized maps at The map collection is global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present, with a particular strength in maps and atlases of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.


Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room.

Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit

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Posted: August 27 2014    Nancy J Conrad