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The Library of Congress today opens “Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood,” which replaces the three-year-old exhibition “Mapping a New Nation: Abel Buell’s Map of the United States, 1784.” The rare Abel Buell map remains on display, joined by seven state maps and a railroad map.
“Mapping a Growing Nation” is on view until December 2020 in the Ceremonial Gallery on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For an online version of the exhibition, visit www.loc.gov/exhibits.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the Buell Map, which is the first map of the newly independent United States that was compiled, printed and published in America by an American. It is the first map to be copyrighted in the United States. Seven copies of the map are known to exist, and this copy is considered the best preserved and, therefore, the most frequently chosen for illustration of Buell’s work.
Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, purchased the Buell Map through an auction at Christie’s in Manhattan in December 2010. Rubenstein, a longtime supporter of the Library of Congress, has generously placed the map at the Library so it can be publicly displayed and, by digital technology, made available for research purposes. He also funded construction of the map’s state-of-the-art display case.
The seven state maps on display in “Mapping a Growing Nation” feature Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The railroad map, published in 1856, shows the railroad networks in the Eastern United States. Over the next four years, maps of all the states will be rotated into the exhibition. They will be early maps of each state—often the very first map—printed in the United Sates after each state achieved statehood.
The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.4 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The cartographic collections cover every country and subject, in formats ranging from early manuscripts to the most up-to-date digital geospatial data and software. The collections include the works of some of the most important surveyors and mapmakers in America, such as George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, and Richard Edes Harrison, along with archives relating to the history of geography in the United States. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.