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Mapping Virginia: From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War

by William C. Wooldridge (Virginia)

Early Virginia maps are oriented to the west—west, not north, appears at the top. Though that perspective looks skewed to modern eyes, it perfectly illustrates the world as Virginians then saw it: The west was unknown, unexplored, undefined. Over the next two and a half centuries, more precise mapmaking techniques unraveled the New World’s mysteries and laid out real boundaries. The details behind those techniques are complex, and the explanations might be too much of a good thing for casual readers. But the remarkable maps are glorious works of art.


Originally published in the June 2013 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.