American Mapmaking

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AmericanMapmaking.com is a virtual exhibit of American maps from the late 18th century.  Created by antique map dealer, Boston Rare Maps, the  virtual tour is styled after the Harvard Maps Collection exhibit is entitled “Toward a National Cartography: American Mapmaking, 1782-1800” and seeks to explore the evolution of cartography after the American Revolution.  The virtual exhibit is curated by Michael Buehler, founder of Boston Rare Maps.

As explained in the introduction, contrary to cartography done professionally prior to the American Revolution by representatives of the British Empire in North America, mapmakers after the Revolution were generally private citizens creating maps for commercial purposes.

The exhibit features 22 rare maps, atlases, and other documentation from this cartographic period. Featured mapmakers are Sebastian Bauman, Abraham Bradley, Osgood Carleton, Andrew Ellicott, John Fitch, and John Norman.  Maps can be browsed at the national, state, and town level and also through the themes navigation, expansion, and connection.  The exhibit contains such cartographic treasures as the 1792 plan for “The city of Washington in the Territory of Columbia”, now Washington D.C., by surveyor Andrew Ellicott.  The exhibit also contains a look at American expansion in John Fitch’s “Map of the North West Parts of the United States of America,” published in 1785 and based on William McMurray’s map of the United States.

Visit: AmericanMapmaking.com


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John Fitch, A Map of the North West Parts of the United States of America. Philadelphia, 1785. Image courtesy of Harvard Map Collection.

John Fitch, A Map of the North West Parts of the United States of America. Philadelphia, 1785. Image courtesy of Harvard Map Collection.


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