Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

Map, United States, Pictorial, Louise Jefferson, Vintage Print, 1950 (Sold)

This item is sold. It has been placed here in our online archives as a service for researchers and collectors.

To find similar items in stock, browse or search our currently available items from our menu.

• See our guidelines for the use of images.
Contact the gallery with purchasing and ordering inquiries, or to offer items for sale.

Mary M. Lago (1919-2001) (author)
Louise E. Jefferson (1908-2002) (art director)
Picture Map of the United States
Friendship Press, Inc., New York: 1950, 1953
Black and white print
37.5 x 50 inches, overall (map)
24 x 37 inches (accompanying inset sheet)

A very large educational pictorial coloring map of the United States with accompanying insert sheet, to be used as a teaching tool for geography and also serving as an interactive art project for students. The map is bordered by 29 small illustrations of American life, several of which feature children. These pictures are shown on a border on the top and bottom of the map and within the border on the map portion. The border is striped and decorated with stars, apparently inspired by the American flag. The side borders are decorated with illustrations of agricultural and seafood products. Nine of the illustrations are completed on the map and the others are left as blank rectangular boxes. An accompanying separate “insert sheet” (with revised copyright 1953) contains a textual description as well as the remaining 20 illustrations that match the blanks on the map. This sheet also has smaller vignettes of six of churches (not as complete illustration blocks). As an educational exercise children could color the pictures on the map. They could also color the remaining illustrations on the accompanying insert sheet, cut them out and paste them on the map in the blank boxes, and also color, cut, and paste the church illustrations. An example of the main map as complete (with all blank spaces filled) is printed on a much smaller scale on the backside of the map, which when folded appears as the front cover of the folded map in the size of one folded section.

Product description continues below.


The text includes various interactive educational ways to use the map with students in promoting responsible citizenship with an emphasis on religion. It also explains various of the illustrations, some of which particularly address the African-American experience in the United States. In addition, the text provides instructions for using this sheet, including the following:

The cut-out pictures of the blank spaces on the face of the map illustrate some of the ways in which the church helps people to become good citizens. Also on the insert sheet are six cut-out pictures of types of churches found in different sections of our country. Drawn on the map itself are various means of transportation, famous landmarks, and important industries. Important lakes, rivers, mountain ranges, and state boundaries are indicated. […] The map comes unfinished. The pupils will color it and the cut-out pictures on this sheet, later pasting them in the proper places on the map. […] The pictures on the insert sheet do not need to be used.  The blank spaces on the map may be filled in with illustrations that the children have drawn themselves or that they have cut from magazines. Or such extra pictures may be pasted on the white space outside the border or on the face of the map. In this way a group may develop the map along any one theme in which they are interested, for example, different racial groups; products and industries or the church at work.

Picture Map of the United States was one of many pictorial maps published by the Friendship Press of the National Council of Churches. Generally these maps were designed for the education of young students focusing on teaching geography and history and promoting religious values, ethnic and racial tolerance, and responsible citizenship. Louise E. Jefferson, a prominent African-American artist served as Art Director of the Friendship Press and illustrated many of the maps they published. Her name does not appear on Picture Map of the United States, suggesting that she might not have designed the illustrations, though she presumably worked on it as Art Director. The text for this map is by Mary M. Lago.

Louise E. Jefferson was an African-American multi-talented illustrator, art director, calligrapher, cartographer, photographer, and writer. She was among the first African-American women 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 and initially 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. She also designed and illustrated books for publishers such as Viking and Doubleday. Most notably, she worked for the Friendship Press from 1942 to 1968, the publishing agent of the National Council of Churches, and achieved the title of Art Director. During this period, the Friendship Press published numerous pictorial maps — many of which she illustrated — emphasizing world cooperation, adherence to religious tenets, and ethnic and racial tolerance. These include maps of Africa, China, and India, as well as maps of African Americans 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.

Mary M. Lago was a professor, biographer and editor. After graduating from Bucknell University in 1940, she moved to New York and worked for the Friendship Press. In addition to Picture Map of the United States, she also produced a map of Mexico for the press in 1951. When her husband obtained a faculty position at the University of Missouri, they moved there. Eventually she enrolled in the graduate school, obtained her PhD in English literature and became a professor there. She wrote her dissertation on Modern Bengali literature and published scholarly biographies of Rabindrath Tagore, E.M. Forster, and other literary figures and artists of the Edwardian era. Her obituary in the British newspaper The Independent, acknowledged her “enormous contribution to English literary studies.”

Full publication information: Copyright, 1950, by Friendship Press, Inc. Printed in the United States of America. Friendship Press, Inc., 257 Fourth Avenue, New York 10, N.Y.

Condition: Generally very good with only minor light overall toning, handling, wear, minor discolorations, and soft creases. Folds as issued, with associated fold creases and a few minor openings at folds and intersections. Map accompanied by separate folding illustrated text sheet in similar condition.


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

Hornsby, Stephen J. Picturing America, The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Pl. 20, pp. 79, 86-87.

Skipwith, Peyton. “Professor Mary Lago.” The Independent. 27 February 2001. (26 October 2011).

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

Additional information


20th Century