Revisit the 1940 Map of American Diversity, Owned & Bitingly Annotated by Poet Langston Hughes

EthnicToleranceMapFinal.jpg.CROP.original-originalRebec­ca Onion, who occa­sion­al­ly con­tributes to Open Cul­ture, runs The Vault, a blog resid­ing at that’s “ded­i­cat­ed to his­to­ry at its most beau­ti­ful, strange, fun­ny, and mov­ing.” It’s a great place to spend time if you enjoy revis­it­ing archival doc­u­ments of his­tor­i­cal inter­est — pho­tographs, pam­phlets, but­tons, toys and, yes, maps, like the one above. Fea­tured on The Vault last week, this curi­ous map was issued by the Coun­cil Against Intol­er­ance in Amer­i­ca in 1940 and depicts the “geo­graph­i­cal loca­tions, typ­i­cal employ­ment, and reli­gious com­mit­ments” of eth­nic groups liv­ing in the Unit­ed States at the time time. A copy of the map was owned and anno­tat­ed by poet Langston Hugh­es, the Amer­i­can poet, social activist, play­wright, who was a lead­ing fig­ure in the Harlem Renais­sance. If you enlarge the image (click here, then click again) and look care­ful­ly, you can see that he anno­tat­ed the map with a red pen. One such anno­ta­tion — where he placed a burn­ing cross and “K.K.K.” in the vicin­i­ty of African Amer­i­cans liv­ing in the South — appears in the image below. Head over to The Vault to get more on this sto­ry.

hughes annotation 2

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Poems as Short Films: Langston Hugh­es, Pablo Neru­da and More

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Rich­mond Ani­mates the 1932 Atlas of the His­tor­i­cal Geog­ra­phy of the Unit­ed States

Visu­al­iz­ing Slav­ery: The Map Abra­ham Lin­coln Spent Hours Study­ing Dur­ing the Civ­il War

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