Feb 17, 2016


Library of Virginia

Select maps and charts from the Alan M. Voorhees Collection at the Library of Virginia

Alan M. Voorhees was a distinguished engineer and transportation consultant who planned most of the metropolitan and local transportation systems built in the free world in the 1960s and 1970s. He collected maps and charts of Europe, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay region.

Mr. Voorhees made his collection available for research by placing maps, charts, and atlases at the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society, the Library of Congress, and other institutions.

Early Views of Europe and the World
Voorhees collected woodcut engravings that represented early modern views of the world and copperplate engraved maps. Many late 15th century European map makers based their world maps on the work of the 2nd century cartographer, Ptolemy.

This woodcut engraving map is from "The Nuremberg Chronicle," Latin Edition, July 12, 1493. It depicts the pre-Columbus world, based on Ptolemy's "Geographia."

The twelve winds encircle the earth, the sons of Noah--Japhet, Shem and Ham--appear to be supporting the world outside the border. Seven mythical creatures thought to inhabit unexplored areas appear to the left of the map.

This early 16th century world map was one of the first published with the name "America," after explorer Amerigo Vespucci. The outer frame links the names of winds by coiled rope.

Sebastian Munster (1488-1552), a Hebrew scholar at the University of Basel, compiled this early woodcut engraving of the New World.

It was the first to show both North and South America connected by land.

This visually striking seventeenth century "trip-tik" was the nineteenth of one hundred strip maps in John Ogilby's road atlas of Britain.

The atlas was titled "Britannia, Volume the First: or, an illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales: By a Geogrpahical and Historical Descriptions of the Principal roads thereof."

Early European Views of America
Alan Voorhees collected several early woodcut and copperplate engraving maps of North America, some of which are colored. After Columbus's voyage, European explorers traveled throughout the Western Hemisphere recording their findings. European mapmakers engraved and published maps of North America that demonstrated what was known or thought to be known about North and South America and their inhabitants.

Published in the first modern atlas "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum," this 1587 map of the New World shows an inlet pointing west above the word "Wingan:/dekoa."

This may be one of the first renderings of the Chesapeake Bay. Just north of this is written "Apalchen." The Appalachian Mountains are named after the Appalachee, a tribe of Muskhogen Indians who resided in northwest Florida in the sixteenth century.

Information gathered from the reports of explorers John White and Jaques Le Moyne are introduced in "America Sive Novvs..." which was published in 1596.

The four explorers, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan, and Francisco Pizarro, appear to support the circle enclosing the hemisphere in a maritime landscape.

Jodocus Hondius prepared this map for publication in Mercator's "Atlas Minor." A line from the Psalms is printed below the map, which today translates as "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein."

"America Descrip." is a smaller version of a larger map of America published by Hondius in 1606. "America Septentrionalis," meaning North America, is prominently marked with "Vir" over Virginia.

Blaeu's decorative map of North and South America is laden with coastal place names. Sea monsters and ships bearing different flags are sprinkled over the waters.

The map is surrounded by decorative borders on three sides. Nine towns are highlighted along the top, including Mexico City (Tenochtitlan), Havana, Cartegena and Rio de Janeiro. Inhabitants of the Americas are depicted in the side borders.

John Speed's map of America is similar to Blaeu's. Speed published this in his atlas, "A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World." Familiar Virginia names appear as well as the early settlement of "Plymouth" in New England.

California is portrayed as an island.

This is the first map on which English colonial boundaries in North America are marked by printed lines.

New York became an English colony in the mid seventeenth century and the Restitution view of New York shown on the bottom right corner celebrates the English "restitution" of Dutch power.

British and French Claims in North America
Voorhees collected maps that illustrated European territorial claims in North America. By the mid eighteenth it was clear that the terms concerning territorial boundaries in North America as defined in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) were no longer valid. Both the British and French laid claim to lands in the Ohio River Valley as reflected in the following maps. The colonial land dispute would come to a head in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

Henry Popple's impressive wall map illustrates British possessions in North America from the British point of view. Benjamin Franklin owned copies of Popple's map.

Ironically, he consulted French sources to depict the lower Mississippi, the Great Lakes, and Spanish settlements on the Rio Grande. The English were competing with the French for land in North America.

Colorful and eye-catching, Tobias Lotter's 1740 map focuses on French and Spanish held territories in North America.

John Mitchell compiled one of the most important political maps of North America in the eighteenth century from various sources, including records on file with the British Board of Trade. It has been used to settle boundary disputes as recently as the twentieth century.

The French documented their claims, as seen in green, in the New World as depicted by D'Anville's map of North America.

British possessions are severely restricted to the Atlantic Coast.

Maps of Virginia, Colonial - 19th Century  
Alan Voorhees was very interested in the history of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay and he collected maps of the bay, the colony and the Commonwealth. Sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century Europeans and Americans were very interested in learning more about North America, particularly the colony of Virginia. Maps were produced for governmental and commercial use and provided visual images that told the story from colony to commonwealth. John Smith's map of Virginia was the first to accurately depict the Chesapeake Bay region and Thomas Jefferson's map was the first to show the commonwealth's state boundaries.

John Smith's map of Virginia was first published in 1612 in a pamphlet titled "Map of Virginia."

John Smith and his fellow compatriots traveled up and down the rivers that feed into the Chesapeake Bay and explored territory 150 miles inland. This map of Virginia was a product of their ventures.

Sir Robert Dudley published this beautifully engraved chart of the Chesapeake Bay in the first complete nautical atlas, Dell'Arcano del Mare.

It was the first printed chart of the Chesapeake Bay and Carolina Sounds done in the Mercator projection and one of the earliest to indicate prevailing winds, ocean currents and magnetic variations.

Patrick Henry's father, John Henry, decided to compile and publish a map of Virginia. Henry's map was never a commercial success and few copies were sold.

Henry's map was the first to outline Virginia's county boundaries; it also listed plantations and owners along the Virginia's rivers.

Thomas Jefferson compiled a map of Virginia to accompany his "Notes on the State of Virginia." It captured the development of Virginia's western counties.

John Smith's two volume work "The True Travels, Adventures and Observations..." was reprinted in 1819 and it included a facsimile of Smith's seventeenth century map of Virginia.

Alan M. Voorhees collected maps of Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay and early modern Europe. The Voorhees Collection is a major contribution to the Library's core collection of more than 5,000 historical maps.
Library of Virginia
Credits: Story

All images from Map Collection, Manuscripts & Special Collections, Library of Virginia.
Alan M. Voorhees Map Collection

Research, text, and arrangement by Cassandra Britt Farrell, Marianne McKee and Mary Kate du Laney with assistance from Audrey McElhinney & Sonya Coleman.

Imaging by Mark Fagerburg & Paige Buchbinder, Photo & Digital Imaging Services Department.

For the Library of Virginia

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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