AJ Blandford

Ph.D. Candidate Department of History Rutgers University

2016 to 2017
Research Fellow

Labor and the Visualization of Knowledge in American Geological Surveys

My project explores the progress of geological illustration from the first years of the Republic, when such imagery was atypical and expensive, to the middle of the nineteenth-century when geological maps and sections were acknowledged as the essential tools of a new professional science. Research at Consortium institutions will allow me to investigate and compare geological images, such as William Maclure's foundational "Geological Map of the United States," published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society in 1809, as material and social objects, the products of numerous collaborations between cartographers, colorists, engravers, printers, as well as travelers, farmers, pastors, and geologizers. This project tracks the changing techniques, practitioners and conventions of geological illustration as geological images proliferated in scientific journals, state survey reports, and mining consulting reports. This work will help bring attention to the diverse actors who contributed to the production of geological knowledge and place their work within the growing literature on scientific illustration.

Read more in the research report here.