Creating Place for Tourism

This is the first in a series of Archives Month posts around this year's theme, North Carolina Travel, Tourism, and Vacation. It was written by Jennifer Daugherty, Head of the North Carolina Collection at East Carolina University.

The North Carolina Collection at East Carolina University collects maps of all types from across North Carolina. Some of the most colorful and interesting ones in the collection are thematic maps used to promote travel and tourism within the state.  Many of these employ persuasive cartography which often does not have accuracy as a primary goal. Instead, it focuses on creating and advertising a sense of place, which in this case is used to bring tourists into the area.

The local Chambers of Commerce were a frequent publisher of thematic maps aimed at tourists. Chambers were usually responsible for promoting business growth and prosperity in their region. Bringing tourists into the area to strengthen the local economy played a large part in their success. This map was produced by the New Bern Chamber of Commerce, along with the city and Craven county. It highlights destinations to visit as well as history and other background information about the area.  Along with targeting the recreational tourist, the map could be sent out to promote business tourism.

NC Maps G 3904. N4 1959. L38, North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University

This map also made a nice souvenir. A person might not pick it up until they had already arrived in the city, but it would serve as a reminder of their trip and an ongoing advertisement to return.

“The Vacationists’ Paradise” map has a very similar theme as the New Bern map. It was published by the local Chamber of Commerce in Carteret County and lists local area places to visit, as well as businesses that were most likely either members of the Chamber or paid to be included. Instead of historic information about the town, this one has a fishing theme, with illustrations of types of fish included. The bright colors and fun nature of the map would have made it a nice souvenir to take home.

Carteret County Vacation and Fishing Guide
Sanitary Fish Market & Restaurant map
NC Maps F 262. C23. N673 1962 North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University
Brunswick County map
Brunswick Co. Come See Come Do
NC Maps G 3903. B6. E63 1970. W45, North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University

The Brunswick County “Come See, Come Do!” map was published by the Resources Development Commission for Brunswick County, which was under the Planning Board. The map is not very detailed in its geography, but bright colorful pictures are used to highlight interests to be found in the area. There is also a chart with mileage to major cities.

Unlike the other maps, the North Carolina State Transportation map focuses on accuracy. Copies are free and are available in almost every rest area in the state. Created by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the map promotes tourism by guiding travelers to where they need to go. These maps were invaluable before GPS was widely available for consumer use.

1940 NC Highways map
reverse 1940 NC Highways map
NC Maps G3901.P2 1940 N67, North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University

On the verso of the map, the theme of promoting tourism is continued with images from around the state. The map is published every 1-2 years and contains different images each time. Only the first few editions were published without the additional content.

By including desirable photos and illustrations in addition to the geography, the examples here promote tourism through a representation of place. They are meant to persuade the tourist with imagery and context.  North Carolina’s different destinations are the product, and these types of maps work well to sell it. Maps of these kinds can usually be found in almost every state.


Douglas Fleming and Richard Roth, “Place in Advertising,” Geographical Review 3, no. 81 (Jul. 1991): p.281-291,

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