Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Increase Lapham Milwaukee Maps
Ten years before the city of Milwaukee was incorporated a man named Increase Lapham created a map of Milwaukee. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, this 1836 map presents the city as far more developed than it was. Compare it with the 1856 map created by Lapham and you will see a great deal of growth in the city over two decades.
Increase Lapham (1811-1875) was a self-educated engineer and naturalist and is credited as Wisconsin's first scientist. He authored the first book published in the state, made the first accurate maps of Wisconsin, documented the Indian effigy mounds, observed and recorded the weather and was a great supporter of education.
Many of his Milwaukee maps are stored in the Rare Books Room. Of particular interest is his prototype for a Milwaukee atlas. It was never published, but serves as an early example of being able to provide more details by switching from a single sheet format to a multi-page format.
If you are interested in viewing these maps or the atlas, call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.
Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian