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Map, India, Pictorial, A Friendship Map, Louise Jefferson, Vintage Print, 1946

Louise E. Jefferson (1908-2002) (after)
India: A Friendship Map
Friendship Press, Inc., New York: 1946
Color-process print
Price on Request

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Pictorial map of India made the year before the region gained independence from Great Britain and was divided into India and Pakistan in 1947. Cartography is simple, with major cities and rivers indicated, also labeled with regional agricultural products and industries. Numerous small illustrations depict Indian people at work or engaged in cultural activities, as well as typical architecture and modes of transportation, traditional dress and wildlife. The illustrations are accompanied by brief captions with facts about Indian life. A small inset map in the upper right corner shows the eleven “principal languages of India,” and another small illustration of a one-rupee coin lists denominations of Indian currency and their equivalents in American dollars and cents. The map focuses on almanac facts and avoids political commentary, even though 1946 was a tumultuous year in which India saw numerous incidents of sectarian strife between Hindus and Muslims, as British and Indian politicians negotiated the terms of independence. However, four portraits of major leaders of the independence movement are included in the upper right corner: the activist Mohandas K. Gandhi; Jawaharlal Nehru, who would become the first prime minister of an independent India; Sarojini Naidu, an activist, poet and politician active in the independence movement who would become the first woman governor of an Indian state; and Muhammed Ali Jinnah, a Muslim leader who would become the first Governor-General of Pakistan. The map is enclosed in a decorative linear border design that incorporates small illustrations.

Product description continues below.


The map was done by Louise E. Jefferson, a prominent African-American illustrator and designer for several decades in New York City. It is one of a series of maps of different places around the world published by the Friendship Press of the National Council of Churches. As Art Director of the Friendship Press, Jefferson illustrated many of the maps they published. These maps generally promote peace, tolerance and cooperation, with historical illustrations as well as illustrations relating to Christian institutions.

Louise E. Jefferson was an illustrator, art director, calligrapher, cartographer and photographer. During her long career, she produced a large body of work as an illustrator, graphic designer and photographer, both as a freelancer and as the art director of the Friendship Press, the publishing agent of the National Council of Churches, a post she held from 1942 to 1968. She may have been the first African-American woman to work as an art director in the publishing industry.

Jefferson was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to New York City to study art at Hunter College and Columbia University. There she came into contact with the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1935 was a founding member of the Harlem Artist’s Guild. Her first illustrated book, We Sing America (1936) created a stir when she depicted black and white children playing together; indeed, the book was banned by the governor of Georgia. Ironically, Jefferson later recounted that in her career as an artist, she personally encountered more sexism as a woman than racism as an African-American. Besides designing and illustrating books for publishers such as Viking and Doubleday, she produced numerous cultural pictorial maps for the Friendship Press emphasizing world cooperation and ethnic and racial tolerance, including Africa, China, and Native Americans in the United States. Jefferson frequently worked for African-American organizations, including the NAACP, for whom she designed holiday seals over a period of about 40 years. She also wrote and illustrated The Decorative Arts of Africa (1973), based on her travels in Africa during the previous decade, some of which were supported by grants from the Ford Foundation.

Full publication information: Published by Friendship Press, New York. Copyright, 1946, by Friendship Press, Inc.

Condition: Fine, the colors very bright, apparently not exposed to light. Original folds, as issued, flattened, and backed on Japanese paper, also closing a short marginal tear.


“Extravagant Crowd: Louise E. Jefferson.” Yale University Beinecke Library. (25 October 2011).

Smith, Jessie Carney. Notable Black Women. pp. 328-330. Online at Google Books: (25 October 2011).

Additional information


20th Century