How World War I launched mapmaking at National Geographic
During World War I, the National Geographic Society began producing original maps that gave readers context for the events around the globe.
In the summer of 1914, Americans began reading news accounts of a conflict that would soon be called the Great War—and that would draw the United States in three years later. (See also: The United States Enters World War I).
But it was National Geographic's maps that quickly helped Americans grasp the sweep of a conflict so vast that it would later become known as the First World War.
"People who followed the war at all followed it by reading newspapers...and maps were a very important way to make sense of these faraway places [and] strange names," says Robert Poole, a former executive editor at National Geographic magazine and author of a book on the history of the magazine.