Louise E. Jefferson, China, a Friendship Map.

Louise E. Jefferson, China, a Friendship Map.




Published 1948, New York

Size: 24" X 30"


A rare pictorial map issued by the director of the Friendship Press, Inc., of New York, Louise E. Jefferson; a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University.  Louise E. Jefferson’s, maps are rare and important to cartography and graphic design not only for some of the subject matters and themes that they covered, but also because of her ability to overcome social and economic barriers that African American women experienced in America in the mid 20th Century including those in the fields of cartography and graphic design.

The map depicts China in pictorial form with an array of characters and imagery to inform the viewer of China and its cultural and economic history.  The map also depicts the images of Chiang Kai-Shek; the leader of the Republic of China, and his wife, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen; the revolutionary leader that overthrew the Qing dynasty, Y. C. Yen; a leader in Chinese literacy, public health, agricultural improvement and citizenship, Dr. Wu Yi Fang; the president of Giinling College for women, and Dr. T.Z. Koo; the Secretary of the World’s Student Christian Federation and Associate General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A.

The map is also of special interest in that it was published in the year prior that the Communist Party of China established the People’s Republic of China and forced the leadership of the Republic of China, under Chiang Kai-Shek to retreat to the island of Taiwan.  In fact, the Chinese Civil War had pitted the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China as far back as 1927 with the final phase of the Chinese Civil War occurring after World War II, or more precisely, from 1945 to 1949.  Yet, in viewing Jefferson’s map, there is no indication of internal strife within Chinese society.  Rather, Jefferson’s pictorial map is more akin to the means of advertising and of mass communication that helps create awareness and influence through positive association with visual effects that elicit powerful emotions from the viewer.  With the use of non threatening images to depict China, Jefferson attempts to create an unthreatening image of China at peace, a precondition to friendship with other state powers as the map’s title suggests.  Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the Friendship Press was the publishing branch for the National Council of Churches (NCC).  It has been argued that the NCC, which had originally been created in response to industrial problems and worker protection rights, also concerned itself with international issues that threatened to draw the United States into war.  Thus it can be inferred somewhat that the map attempts to influence the publics perception that China, under its current leadership, is on friendly terms with America and that disruption to this friendship would not be in either ones interest.  

Jefferson’s map is thus as important for what it says, as well as the underlying subliminal messaging that it portrays.