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Frances Lillian (F. L.) Blaisdell, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businesswoman, was Arkansas’s first published woman cartographer and one of the first woman map makers in the nation. Shortly before her death in 1924, she became the first woman to serve on the Pulaski County Board of Equalization. Her maps and her atlas of Arkansas were widely distributed.
F. L. Blaisdell was born in Augusta, Georgia, in January 1884, the only child of civil engineer, architect, and pioneer landscape architect Frank M. Blaisdell and his wife, Belle Burr Brace Blaisdell. From an early age, Blaisdell was fascinated with her father’s work in designing city parks and other landscapes. She was especially fascinated by surveying and map making.
The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1905 and to Little Rock in 1911. Shortly after graduating from Little Rock High School, she founded her own map publishing business. By 1912, she had compiled and published Blaisdell’s Wall Map of Little Rock, Argenta and Pulaski Heights. By 1915, working with her father, she was marketing Blaisdell’s Model and Rural School Plans. In 1915 and 1919, she published detailed maps of the entire state. Soon, she set her sights on creating the state’s first atlas of county maps. She personally supervised the resulting surveys in all parts of the state and, in 1919, published her Atlas of Arkansas Counties. For many years, it was the standard reference atlas for the state.
She never married and lived in the family home until her sudden death on February 22, 1924, in Little Rock. She is buried beside her father and mother in the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
For additional information:Hempstead, Fay. Historical Review of Arkansas. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911.
“Well Known Map Publisher is Dead.” Arkansas Gazette. February 23, 1924, p. 18.
“Obituary: Miss Lillian Blaisdell.” Guardian. March 1, 1924, p. 3.
Who’s Who in Little Rock Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-one. Little Rock: New Era Press, 1921.
“Women Assuming Place in Politics of Arkansas.” Arkansas Gazette. July 24, 1921, p. 10.
Russell P. BakerArkansas History Commission
Last Updated 5/13/2009
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