Puzzles in geography, from Dissected Maps to Silent Teachers
The map of the United States, made into a puzzle with each piece an individual state, is a time honored device for teaching children geography. This talk covers map puzzles from their beginnings in the mid-1700s to the first World War, with emphasis on nineteenth century American puzzle ones. It focuses especially on the “Silent Teacher” puzzles that several companies in central New York manufactured from about 1875 to 1910. Most Silent Teachers were double-sided. They showed an individual state, cut on county lines, on the front, and an advertising image on the obverse.
Anne D. Williams is the author of The Jigsaw Puzzle, Piecing Together a History and numerous other publications on related topics. After completing an A.B. from Smith College and two years in the Peace Corps in India, she received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. She spent most of her teaching career at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and retired in 2008. Her puzzling path began as a child and accelerated in two decades later when she started collecting jigsaw puzzles systematically and researching their history. Since then she has written two books on the history of jigsaw puzzles and curated museum exhibits in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. She collected jigsaw puzzles from the 1700s to the present for more than forty years. Most of her extensive collection, including more than 100 pre-WWI map puzzles, is now in the permanent holdings of the Strong Museum in Rochester, NY.