James Monteith

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James Monteith
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CitizenshipUnited States of America

James Monteith (1831-1890) was an American author of widely-published geography textbooks in the nineteenth century.[1][2] Monteith was born in Ireland, immigrated to the United States as a child, and lived his whole life in New York City. Monteith taught for many years in New York's public school system and began publishing textbooks on geography and history in the 1850s, initially collaborating with Francis McNally.[3][4] Monteith's influences included Alexander K. Johnston, Arnold Henry Guyot|Arnold Guyot, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Emma Willard|Emma Hart Willard.

From the early 1850s to the 1880s, A.S. Barnes and Co. published many different versions of Monteith geography textbooks, which grew larger, more detailed, and more sophisticated over time.[5][6][7] Over the course of his career, Monteith's style grew more unique and innovative, combining many different approaches to comparative geography and symbology.[8][9] File:Monteith Comprehensive 1876 cover.jpg|alt=Geography textbook cover|thumb|Cover of 1876 edition of Comprehensive Geography by James Monteith File:Monteith 1885 title page.jpg|thumb|Title page from 1885 Edition of Barnes's Complete Geography by James Monteith Monteith's textbooks remained in print for decades after his death, published by the American Book Company (1890)|American Book Company as Barnes's Complete Geography.[10][11] Monteith probably produced more than one hundred different editions and versions of his geography textbooks in his lifetime: the Library of Congress alone holds 44 different listings for Monteith. Monteith was recommended for membership and elected as a Fellow of the American Geographical Society on November 18th, 1879.[12] In the 1880s, Monteith was involved in the development of the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, where he first purchased land in the 1860s, and the northward extension of the subway.[13]

Monteith's obituary in the New York Times noted that "nearly every school boy and girl in the country is familiar with [his name] because of its being on the cover of the geographies."[14] Monteith is buried in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery alongside his first wife Emma Palmer Monteith and his second wife Ella Florence Brown.[15][16] File:Monteith grave 2021.jpg|alt=James Monteith gravesite|thumb|Grave of James Monteith at sunset in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery


  1. "[Obituary] James Monteith". Delaware Gazette and State Journal. 18 September 1890.
  2. "Library of Congress LCCN Permalink nr92030866". lccn.loc.gov. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  3. "Vol. 4, No. 10, DECEMBER, 1858 of The R. I. Schoolmaster on JSTOR". www.jstor.org. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  4. Documents of the Board of Education of the City of New York for the Year Ending December 31st 1862. New York: Westcott. 1862.
  5. James Monteith (1854). Youth's Manual of Geography. Harvard University. A.S. Barnes & Co., etc ., etc.
  6. Monteith, James (1870). Monteith's physical and intermediate geography: in two parts. Part I. Geography taught as a science. Part II. Local and civil geography. New York: A.S. Barnes. OCLC 39927091.
  7. Scott, Valerie (2003). Tooley's Dictionary of Mapmakers, K-P (Revised Edition). Riverside, CT: Early World Press. p. 273.
  8. Rhodes, Andrew (2021-02-08). "James Monteith: Cartographer, Educator, and Master of the Margins". Cartographic Perspectives. doi:10.14714/CP97.1671. ISSN 1048-9053.
  9. "James Monteith's First Attempt at Comparative Area – Mapspam". Retrieved 2021-05-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. Monteith, James (1914). Barnes's complete geography. American Book. OCLC 17852918.
  11. Patton, Jeffrey C. (2014-11-10). "The American School Atlas: 1784 - 1900". Cartographic Perspectives (33): 4–32. doi:10.14714/CP33.1018. ISSN 1048-9053.
  12. "Transactions of the Society for 1879". Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York. 11: xlix–liv. 1879. ISSN 1536-0407.
  13. "Favoring Gould's Scheme: Harlem Men Have Uphill Struggle Making Public Sentiment". The New York Times. 10 April 1889.
  14. "James Monteith (Obituary)". The New York Times. 12 September 1890.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. "James Monteith (1831-1890) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  16. "Cemetery Records". Laurel Hill Cemetery. Retrieved 2021-05-30.

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