Arts & culture, Events at Berkeley, Politics & society, Visual arts

Getting the U.S. election all mapped out

The Geography Library presents a pop-up display of U.S. election maps to show how votes for president have been depicted over the years.

A pop-up exhibit of election-related maps over centuries of United States' history drew a small crowd on Friday. (Photos by Hulda Nelson, UC Berkeley Public Affairs.)

A pop-up exhibit of election-related maps over centuries of United States history drew a small crowd on Friday. (UC Berkeley photos by Hulda Nelson)

The UC Berkeley Library had the United States elections all mapped out — for an hour anyway.

Just days before Election Day 2016, a coalition of librarians from UC Berkeley’s Earth Sciences and Maps Library, the Institute of Governmental Studies Library and Doe Library assembled a brief pop-up exhibit of electoral history as depicted on maps that were retrieved from campus collections and dating as far back as 1880.

Information presented included voting outcomes by geography, political party registration trends, the geographic distribution of ethnic groups, a representation of the top 200 American counties in terms of poverty, election precinct layouts in Berkeley, Albany and even Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin, and the makeup of the 76th U.S. Congress, which served from 1939 to 1941. A digital display featured recent California ballot propositions.

“It’s the best part of the election, by far,” quipped Susan Powell, a Geographic Information System and map librarian, as she introduced the one-hour exhibit at the Earth Sciences and Maps Library at McCone Hall on Friday.

The library features one of the biggest map collections in California, and its events such as map sales are typically a big draw. Powell attributed some of the excitement about maps to an increasingly visual culture.

One exhibit visitor said maps are appealing because they are aesthetically appealing and present a wealth of information concisely.

A brief slide show of the exhibit is below. All photos are by Berkeley News photographer Hulda Nelson.