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U.Va. Library Presents Maps Used By Lewis & Clark

December 4, 2002-- An exhibition of maps that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark studied in preparation for their historic journey is now on view at The University of Virginia Library through May 5, 2003. “Lewis and Clark: The Maps of Exploration 1507-1814” is part of the University’s ongoing Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project. The exhibition shows the evolution of how cartographers over the centuries imagined the West. Their maps are technically inaccurate but visually entertaining, with inaccuracies such as California as an island or the Mississippi River flowing into the South Seas.

Based on the library’s popular 1995 display, “Exploring the West from Monticello,” the new exhibition features significant new acquisitions, including the first atlas devoted exclusively to the New World (the second edition of Cornelius Wytfliet’s 1597 Descriptionis Ptolemaicae). Highlights of the 70 items on display include:

  • “A Map of Lewis and Clark’s Track” from the official journals of the expedition published in 1814. Incorporating discoveries from the expedition, this map presents a new — and remarkably accurate — view of the Missouri River and kills the notion of a Northwest Passage to the Far East.
  • “A map of Virginia discovered to ye Hills” by John Farrer, 1651. Farrer’s map shows an astonishingly narrow North American continent and notes that a 10-day march westward from the head of the James River will bring the traveler to rivers that run into the “Indian Seas.” Farrer’s map labels many places in Virginia and Maryland for the first time.
  • “Map of the Inhabited part of Virginia, containing the whole province of Maryland with Part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina” by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, 1751. Known as the Fry-Jefferson map, this map is the first to show the Appalachian Mountains running in the correct direction. Peter Jefferson’s son, Thomas, used the Fry-Jefferson map in drawing his map for Notes on the State of Virginia.
  • Several versions and editions of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, his only published book, including his personal copy with notes for revision written in the margins and the Marquis de Lafayette’s personal copy inscribed by Jefferson.

“The Maps of Exploration” is one of the library’s contributions to the University’s Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project. This is a three-year, cross-disciplinary effort sponsored by the Office of the President and involves 17 faculty members across 13 departments. The project is a major University initiative designed to contribute to the national conversation about Lewis and Clark and to the evolving body of scholarship on the expedition and its role in North American history.

In addition to the maps on display at the library, docent tours and a color catalog are available. Docents give free tours on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through mid-December. The catalog, which is for sale in the exhibition room, features a foreword written by noted geographer John Logan Allen as well as a detailed presentation of the speculation and misinformation that surrounded the Lewis and Clark journey.

The exhibition will be on display in the McGregor Room in Alderman Library and is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William F. Muenster, both of whom are University alumni.

Online press kit with downloadable images and updated

Online version of exhibition:

Schedule of docent tours and catalog information:

Details on the University’s Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project:

Contact: Charlotte Morford Scott, (434) 924-4254

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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