Richard Edes Harrison

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Richard Edes Harrison (March 11, 1901- January 5, 1994) is an American scientific illustrator and cartographer. He was the house cartographer of Fortune and a consultant at Life for almost two decades. He played a key role in "challenging cartographic perspectives and attempting to change spatial thinking on the everyday level during America’s rise to superpower status".[1]


Richard Edes Harrison's father is the biologist Ross Granville Harrison. he was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1901.[2] He spent his youth in New Haven and went to Yale College where he graduated with a major in zoology and a minor in chemistry.[2] He worked for a time as a draftsman, working for the architect Cass Gilbert and decided to become an architect himself. To this effect, he went to the Yale School of Fine Arts in 1926 and spent four years there. Yet, in 1930, during the Great Depression, employment prospects for architects were not good[2] so he made a living by working as a designer.

Harrison came to cartography "by chance" in 1932 when a friend asked him to momentarily replace a mapmaker working for Fortune.[3] During World War II, his cartographic visualizations became very popular. He challenged the traditional Mercator projections, which are Euro-centric and East–West minded. His World representation using an azimuthal projection that was first published by Fortune in August 1941 under the title "The World Divided"[4] became highly popular and was widely copied.[5] He wanted to illustrate that "the entire conflict pivots around the U.S".[4] A latter version entitled "One World, One War" was published on Fortune in March 1942.[6] The US Army ordered 18000 copies of it.[1] It displayed United States as a pivotal element of the World War, displaying how close it was to Nazi Germany occupied territories.[5] The design of the United Nations logo was influenced by his azimuthal projection.[5][7]

Harrison soon became a freelance cartographer for Fortune and Time. He was from 1936 to 1938 on the staff of Fortune. He worked from the 1940s to the 1950s as a map consultant at the State Department, and was also employed by the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA and the Museum of Modern Art. He lectured at Clark, Syracuse, Columbia and Trinity Universities.[8] He was a member of the American Geographical Society and the Royal Geographical Society.[8]


  • Harrison, Richard Edes (1944). Fortune magazine (ed.). Look at the World, The Fortune Atlas for World Strategy. New York: Alfred A Knopf.



  1. ^ a b Barnet, Timothy (2012). "Richard Edes Harrison and the Cartographic Perspective of Modern Internationalism". Rhetoric & Public History (15): 397–434. doi:10.1353/rap.2012.0037 (inactive 2019-07-13).
  2. ^ a b c Zelinsky, Wilbur (1985). "In Memoriam: Richard Edes Harrison, 1901–1994". Annals of the Association of American Geographers (85): 190. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8306.1995.tb01804.x.
  3. ^ Schulten, Susan (2014-05-21). "World War II Led to a Revolution in Cartography. These Amazing Maps Are Its Legacy". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  4. ^ a b "The World Divided - Cornell University Library Digital Collections". Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  5. ^ a b c Immerwahr, Daniel (2019). "13. Kilroy was here". How to hid an empire: geography, territory, and power in the greater united states. The Bodley Head ltd. ISBN 978-1847923998. OCLC 1038055837.
  6. ^ "One World, One War - Cornell University Library Digital Collections". Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  7. ^ Capdepuy, Vincent (2015). "L'entrée des États-Unis dans l'" âge global " : un tournant géohistorique ?". Monde(s) (in French). 8 (2): 177. doi:10.3917/mond1.152.0177. ISSN 2261-6268.
  8. ^ a b McMaster, Robert; McMaster, Susanna (2002). "A History of Twentieth-Century American Academic Cartography" (PDF). Cartography and Geographic Information Science. 29 (3): 305–321. doi:10.1559/152304002782008486. ISSN 1523-0406.