Emil von Sydow

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Emil von Sydow (July 15, 1812 - October 13, 1873) was a German geographer and cartographer born in Freiberg, Saxony. Early in his career he was a geography instructor at the military academy in Erfurt, and in 1867 became director of statistics and geography to the Prussian General Staff.

Emil von Sydow is considered to be the founder of methodical school cartography, and was known for creating his own wall maps for classroom instruction. In 1838 he produced a physical map of Asia in his Schulmethodischer Wand Atlas (Methodic Wall Atlas for Schools), which was soon followed by maps of other continents. On these maps, von Sydow developed a color methodology for landscape features using hachures, where green was depicted for lowlands and brown used for highlands. Wilhelm Perthes of the publishing firm "Justus Perthes Geographische Anstalt Gotha" was impressed with von Sydow's work and in 1849 produced the latter's Schulatlas in sechsunddreigig Karten (Schoolatlas in 36 maps), which eventually ran to 39 editions in 1887.

After von Sydow's death, Hermann Wagner (1840-1929), a geography professor at Göttingen designed the Sydow-Wagner Methodischer Schulatlas (Sydow-Wagner Methodical School Atlas) with 60 major and 50 inset maps.


  • Origins of School Cartography

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