Ruth Taylor pictorial map of California


Ruth Taylor.  “California.”  From Our U.S.A.  A Gay Geography.  Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1935.  Color lithographs.  11 1/2 x 8 1/2.  Very good condition.

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A whimsical pictorial map by Ruth Taylor (aka Ruth Taylor White) from an atlas published with her brother, Frank.  Ruth began to work as an illustrator in the 1920s after her divorce from Leonard M White, often drawing aerial view/maps of places which were used for visitors, as well as working on books with her brother, a journalist and writer.  One of her first important commissions was in 1830 from the Hawaii Tourist Bureau to provide maps of the four largest islands and the entire chain.  This may have been the inspiration for the Taylor’s most famous work, Our U.S.A.  A Gay Geography issued in 1835.

As described in the introduction, the atlas was an attempt to show “our United States not only as Nature…made the land, but also as many men and women, with varied ideas of a Promised Land, discovered it and used it.”  Each state or city or region is shown with its main topographical features populated by figures of different types, engaged in various activities in a landscape featuring vignettes of important economic features.  The figures are typical of the period in being stereotypical, reflecting the cultural biases of the majority of Americans in the 1930s, but they are generally benign and the scene are cheerfully—or as the time had it, gayly—presented and brightly colors.