Unorthodox maps mark the spot

An exhibit of hand-drawn maps is now on view at Arcadia University in Glenside.

Many of the maps were quickly scrawled on notebook paper to help someone navigate the way home. There is a layout of a wedding reception made for the benefit of the priest. Some navigate imaginary places. Altogether they represent hundreds of highly personal perspectives on the world.

In 2008, Will Haughery had the best summer ever. It was his first time living away from his parents’ house in Lancaster, he had a job, a car, and no responsibilities to speak of. He drew a map to guide visiting friends back to York via Route 30 – and on it he indicated some personal landmarks:

“‘Will’s House of Pain or Awesomeness’ – I can guess that maybe that had something to do with one of the girls but didn’t come to fruition,” said Haughery.  “Which is probably a better thing,” he said.

Will’s map, along with 350 others, have been collected by Kris Harzinski, the founder of the Hand-Drawn Map Association. He says they reveal intimate information not available with normal cartography.

“There’s some maps where a woman marked out spots on her body where she has taken Humira injections for arthritis,” said Harzinski.   “As she takes those she marks the spot on her abdomen on this notecard where that spot was, to let that heal for the next time,” he said.

That medical map, and more than a hundred others, were released in book form last month, and are now at Arcadia University.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.