Map of the Distribution of the Races of Men, from Niles, 1889, The Complete Geography: Mathematical, Physical, Political.
rawing from Warren, 1869, The Common-School Geography: An Elementary Treatise on Mathematical, Physical, and Political Geography.
Bear in mind that this was the great age of classification - everything in the animal and plant kingdoms was being categorized, as well as biomes, climatic zones, landscape morphology. Typologies were the new rage. Darwin's theory of evolution was also in the forefront of advances in scientific thought. Both scientific classification methods and the theory of evolution lent themselves to the categorization and the hierarchization of human groups, too, which probably seemed very progressive and "modern" to people at that time.
A North Pole-centered map best shows relationships in an aeronautical world. Map from Renner, 1942, Figure 19. Human Geography in the Air Age (A Text for High School Students)
In a 2008 review of U.S. Geography textbooks, “Changing Perspectives in High School World Geography: 1950-2005,” the author concludes that “Five significant changes were noted: decline of national orientation and a greater focus on non-Western cultures; greater emphasis upon consumption over production; the accentuation of values clarification; increasing coverage of basic or prevocational skills; and standardization of format and content in textbooks. Many of these changes point towards a new cosmopolitan citizenship model, although some teachers and state social studies standards still see geography from a national perspective.”
According to his findings, geography textbooks are being written with less nationalism and less subjectivity. But I would reserve judgment on that. One hundred years from now, our textbooks (and everything else!) will be critiqued by people living in a vastly different world, who will find fault with what we have written, how we thought about the world, and what we deemed significant enough to pass on to the youth (not to mention them judging us by our actual actions or inactions). I’m sure our feeble attempts at objectivity will be seen as just as lacking as those shown in our look-back of books from the previous two centuries, no matter how hard we have tried to be fair, unbiased, and correct. It is the nature of things. We are always judged by those who come after us, by those who have no direct experience of the world in which we have had to negotiate. I am certainly no relativist, but I think we must not be too harsh when taking a close look at these old books and the messages they impart, and temper some of their excesses with an understanding of their historical milieu.
§ Natural Advanced Geography - Redway, Jacques, and Hinman, Russell, published 1898.