You're looking at just one print from a collection that comprises dozens of spellbinding maps and charts based on the results of the 1870 US census — the ninth census ever conducted, and the first to be performed in the years following the Civil War.

The images are more than just visually arresting — they offer up some fascinating insights on the condition of the country in the wake of the war between the states.

The image up top [hi-res available here] may contain geological information, but many of the rest of the maps speak to the sociopolitical climate of the period. The folks over at the tindog coffeehouse write:


Beautiful, hi-res census maps provide fascinating snapshots of 1870s AmericaThe data essentially reinforce what you would expect to find in the first census since the end of the Civil War: The North had a higher population overall, more foreign-born residents, much fewer African-Americans, and was much wealthier than the South. [Shown here is a map "showing the proportion of "the Colored to the aggregate population." Notice how populations tend to be localizedin the deep south, and along the Mississippi.]

Beautiful, hi-res census maps provide fascinating snapshots of 1870s AmericaThe percentage of men in the West (California, Nevada, Idaho, etc.) far exceeded the percentage of women. And the federal government, whose expenditures were almost completely limited to the military, saw the national debt explode in order to pay for the Civil War. [Featured here is a fiscal chart illustrating the US public debt by year, from 1789 to 1870. Notice how the central chart more or less detonates at 1861.]

Included here are a few more examples, but the entire collection is really worth checking out. If you're as into this sort of thing as I am, you could spend hours poring over the data contained in these pages.

[Radical Cartography via the tindog coffeehouse]


"Chart showing the principal constituent of the population of each state, as foreign, native colored,and native white, an as born within or without the state of residence."

"Map showing the illiteracy of the adult white male population."

"Maps showing the range, and within the range, the degree of cultivation of certain principle crops."

"Map showing the proportion of deaths from consumption to deaths from all causes."

"Map of the predominating sex, showing the local excess of males or of females in the distribution of population over the territory of the united states East of the 100th Meridian."