Library of Congress gets unique flat earth map

Don Homuth, a former North Dakota state senator and current resident of Salem, Oregon, will donate the sole complete copy of the Map of a Square and Stationary Earth by Orlando Ferguson to the Library of Congress. Homuth was given the map by his eighth-grade English teacher John Hildreth who had received it from his grandfather. He didn’t realize it was the only one left intact until he contacted the LoC to arrange for the donation.

Robert Morris, senior technical information specialist in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, said they searched through 75 to 100 related maps before confirming they didn’t have a similar map in its collections.

“Probably very few copies were printed, and even fewer survived,” he said. […]

“For years and years I had it folded away,” [Don Homuth] said. “It was a shock to hear it may be the only (map of its kind) in the world.”

The only other copy known to exist is in the Pioneer Museum of Hot Springs, South Dakota, Ferguson’s home town and the city where the map was first printed in 1893 (the same year the building that now houses the museum was built as a school). The museum’s copy, however, is missing the bottom of the map and footer [Edit: No it isn’t! The Pioneer Museum’s map is almost intact, but its left and right sides appears to have been trimmed and it’s in overall poor condition] with Bible verses condemning “the globe theory” and the following irresistible offer from Prof. Orlando Ferguson:

Send 25 Cents to the Author, Prof. Orlando Ferguson, for a book explaining this Square and Stationary Earth. It Knocks the Globe Theory Clean Out. It will Teach You How to Foretell Eclipses. It is Worth Its Weight in Gold.

I have searched high and low but cannot, alas, find a copy of this most excellent book on the Internet. I can’t even find a quote from it, and I’d dearly love to read the explanation of how Ferguson’s earth is supposed to work. Just from looking at it you see that Ferguson espoused not just a flat earth, but a square earth with angels manning each of the four corners; however, the only explanations on the map itself are Biblical rebuttals of a spherical earth (the most adorable of which is a cartoon in the upper right margin depicting men clinging desperately to a swiftly moving globe), not affirmative defenses of Ferguson’s map.

It seems a less than fully honest rendering of the quadri-cornered earth concept. The earth itself, the continents and oceans, are arranged in a circle and only set against a square framework. The northern hemisphere is a convex mound in the middle of a concave bowl of the southern hemisphere, presumably a structure that solves the problem of why the oceans don’t fall off the edge of the flat earth like in that atrocious Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Of course now there’s a whole new problem: how do you persuade the oceans to properly position themselves up the sides of the bowl to keep sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and South America from being constantly under water?

119 thoughts on “Library of Congress gets unique flat earth map

  1. Hi Jeanie…did you get a chance to visit with Peggy??? I’m curious to know if you’ve learned anything. The reporter contacted me also yesterday…what fun this is! I should have the lecture tomorrow sometime…can’t wait to read Orlando’s words from the past!

  2. Good news and Bad news:

    * The map was packed up yesterday and is now on its way to the LOC. It should be there by the end of next week, so I’m told. The truck doing the shipping must stop by some art museums here on the Left Coast and pick up some other stuff. I can say they packed it Very carefully indeed.

    * Please forgive my lack of specific concentration on other matters, but I got word yesterday that a very close friend of mine back in Fargo ND died suddenly on Sunday. I am, to be honest, quite sad about that and just don’t feel much like doing anything for the nonce. I am at That Age, where good friends die, leaving one to ponder matters greater than maps. I’ll get to things in just a tad.

    Meanwhile, news story

  3. Jeff, I sent Peggy and email but she has not responded yet. I do hope she can fill in some of the blanks for me. Thanks for keeping in touch. And stay cool today as the weather map looks beastly hot there today!

  4. OK — got over the shock of my friend dying, got the appropriate memorial sent back to his family, and Life(tm) can now continue.

    Just got off the phone with the LOC. They are Most delighted with how this has all turned out. I am advised that if an original copy of the book cannot be donated directly, that they would be more than pleased to get a PDF true copy of the book and whatever lecture manuscript folio might be available. If those involved with tracking those down are interested in doing that, have at it. I would be pleased to chip in for the cost involved.

    (This whole thing is starting to feel sort of personally proprietary, even though I know it’s not really.)

    Internal to the LOC is an office of science/technolgy that has, over the years, compiled a bunch of the flat earth theory information for research purposes. They found out about this specific map via the Web, and not through internal notification. They are most pleased at the trove of new information now being unearthed too.

    The formal presentation is going to be made some time in September. My wife and I are working to schedule the dates, and when it’s finalized I will inform folks hereon. It will, as such things are (in campaign season) probably involve a couple of congresscritters (a la Pogo) and other significant dignitaries who want a photo op.

    I do want to discuss other matters, and will once I get the rest of today going.

    My wife and I take no Personal credit for all of this. We just sort of fell into it, and it’s all happening with its own momentum. But it surely is fun.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, Don. My condolences to you and his loved ones.

    I’m glad there’s such lovely, fun and interesting news to offset the bad. I’m going to contact the Hot Springs Public Library to see if we can score a scan of the pamphlet, at least.

    You and your wife should take personal credit for donating so beautiful and rare a piece in the first place, and then for sharing the excitement with the rest of us, both in the press and by keeping us posted here. I’ve been doing this blog for a long time, and I can assure you nothing like this has happened before. I am extremely grateful. Thank you.

    Now we have the formal ceremony to look forward to! I can hardly wait. :boogie:

  6. On a history of astronomy discussion group (HASTRO), a comment was made that this map is not flat at all. While it is titled ‘square’, the square seems an arbitrary cutaway from a larger surface, to fit onto the paper.
    The map itself is an inverse toroid.
    It is difficult to speculate what the significance of this would be; but it is a far more interesting projection than a flat earth. Perhaps the book describes the reasoning.

  7. I will be in Hot Springs this weekend and am going to try to make a stop at the library to see the elusive manuscript!!!

  8. On a history of astronomy discussion group (HASTRO), a comment was made that this map is not flat at all. While it is titled โ€˜squareโ€™, the square seems an arbitrary cutaway from a larger surface, to fit onto the paper.
    The map itself is an inverse toroid.
    It is difficult to speculate what the significance of this would be; but it is a far more interesting projection than a flat earth. Perhaps the book describes the reasoning.

    From what I’ve read, there are a number of different proposed shapes included under the general umbrella of flat earth theories, including disks, semi-spheres and parallelograms. All of them have some depth to them, of course, or else there would be no mountains and valleys, so flat earth is probably a misnomer even for schematics that are not as sophisticated and interesting as Mr. Ferguson’s.

  9. I will be in Hot Springs this weekend and am going to try to make a stop at the library to see the elusive manuscript!!!

    Ooh, you simply must! I heard back from the Hot Springs Library Director and she says they definitely have it safe and sound in their collection. Bring a camera! :boogie:

  10. The original Flat Earth was just a plain cast or core map of the orignal quads on flat blank paper, then the land mass’s were placed in their proper position in the quads. Then of course they could tax every square inch and place the proper boundries. Then the flat map was applied to the round Earth. It all took steps in time and it’s a shame people do not realize the real story behind the original idea of the Flat Earth.

  11. Don

    Congratulations on getting the map shipped off to the LOC. I’d be interested in getting a high resolution scan of the map. I’d like to print it out as poster. Please let me know where I can reach you if you’re still interested in sharing the map. jeffsrule at gmail dot com.

  12. For the past several weeks I have been Most busy doing a raft of things, all of which need not be referenced here. This is the season of car shows, and those take a lot of time. The most historical/hysterical thing was the purchase of a 1959 Cadillac Sedan deVille. (I’m a motorhead among other things.)

    Anyway, got this missive this morning from the LOC:

    Good Morning all,

    Moments ago, I took delivery on the framed, “Map of the Square and Stationary Earth” from our fine arts shipper, ARTEX. It is now headed to the vault in the Geography and Map Division.

    Thank you.

    Peter Stark, Gift Coordinator
    U.S./Anglo Division
    Acquisition & Bibliographic Access Directorate
    Library of Congress

    So, to our considerable relief, the LOC now has it safe in their hands.

    I will be getting back to folks in the next serveral days on requests, etc. The “summer” here has been rainy and cool, and the weeds have taken advantage of their early head start and are outstripping my/our capability to deal with in the garden. Have hired some help, but it still takes time.

    Be patient, all. Things are coming along nicely.

  13. There is another copy of Ferguson’s map on display at the Adams Museum in Deadwood, South Dakota. As I recall it is also complete. Several years ago I tried to get the museum to duplicate it and sell them in the gift shop.

  14. Yes there is indeed a complete copy in the Adams Museum in Deadwood. I just saw it this week, and a Google search on it is what led me to this site. The copy I saw was is great condition.

  15. Now back off, Edward, let Kansas have a grab for it. I thought we got rid of that round Earth theory when we outlawed evolution.

  16. I have located where a copy of the book/pamphlet but it is only available to view in person and doesn’t seem to have a pdf copy of the book available….here is a link to what I have found and would love to know of any access to a physical copy or pdf to read and view. Shalom and YaH Bless.

  17. If this thread is still active I will offer what I have. Here is a picture of Orlando Ferguson posing with an “Atlas of the World” that looks like a map on a clock face. This looks to me like either an early version of his square earth map or (more likely) something he acquired that became the model for his detailed map.

    He was married to my great-grandfather’s sister. I have several old family photos, including both bath houses, but nothing further related to his map. I did not know about the square earth map until I found it online. My grandmother knew his daughters, her cousins, but we lived in another state and I never heard about any of this. [If this link doesn’t work I will try something else.]

  18. ๐Ÿ˜Ž My name is John Stockwell and I fell upon this site while investigating Flat Earthers theory. I know this post was from 2011, but nonetheless, I would love to help you recover your expense of having the map digitized. How would I get in contact with you regarding getting a copy of the digitized map?

    Thank You.

    John Stockwell five0three 50seven 42nine5

  19. Hello Jeff,
    I am also very interested in reading more of Fergusons “professions”, but since I live in Europe, it is kinda difficult for me to visit a Library that owns a copy of his book. Is it possible that you send me a PDF too?
    Kind regards,

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