Realms of Gold
A Catalogue of Maps in the Library of the American Philosophical Society

Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 195

© American Philosophical Society
105 South Fifth Street * Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386

American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386
Table of contents Abstract
Murphy D. Smith created this guide to the map holdings of the American Philosophical Society in 1991. The guide is divided into four main sections:

The bulk of the maps described are found within the printed maps section, which is further subdivided by geographic location. The printed guide was digitized in 2005 and supplemented by the addition of a significant number of digital images of the maps described. These digital representations are maintained in JPEG2000 format, an emerging standard for image compression. Each entry for which there is a corresponding scan features a small thumbnail that links to the JPEG2000 image. Not every map in the collection was scanned for this project. Inventories of all the digitized maps may be found in the following locations:

Scope and content
Thanks are due to many people for help received in preparing this catalogue. The librarians of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Library of Congress were most generous with their help, and I thank them. I also thank Dr. James E. McClellan III for information pertaining to the maps of St. Domingue (Haiti). The most thanks are due to the entire staff of the American Philosophical Society, but especially to Librarian Edward C. Carter II for his continued interest in this project; and to Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Manuscript Librarian; Marian Christ, Cataloguer; David Rhees, Assistant Librarian for Research and Programs; and Hildegard Stephans, Associate Librarian. At times I thought I must have worn out my welcome with the latter five, but they remained unfailingly pleasant and helpful. Much of the design of the format for these entries was the result of their interest in my work and in the future use of this volume.

INTRODUCTION (by Murphy D. Smith)
This volume is a catalogue of the rich and extensive collection of maps in the Library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. It contains information on some 1,750 printed maps, over 1,000 manuscript maps, 136 atlases, two globes, and one model.1

This project was begun in 1985 shortly after my retirement as Associate Librarian of the Society, when Librarian Edward C. Carter II named me Andrew W. Mellon Senior Research Fellow. The map collection had been catalogued by Mrs. Doris E. Broomall, but it was decided by Associate Librarian Hildegard Stephans and Cataloguer Marian Christ that more complete descriptions of the maps and a far more comprehensive index were essential for the better use of the collection. We determined that all maps in the Manuscript Collection as well as all printed maps, certain atlases, globes, and the terrestrial model would be listed, but that no microform maps would be included. Restrikes, reprints, and facsimiles of maps also are included. Occasionally maps which once belonged to a volume had been removed and placed in the map collection, and these, too, are listed in this catalogue.

The only maps in published works which are included in this catalogue are those listed in James Clement Wheat and Christian F. Brun's Maps and Charts Published in America before 1800. A bibliography (New Haven: Yale University Press: 1969). Finally, I have included in the catalogue the three engraved copper plates owned by the Society. One is the copper plate of the first published map of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (History of the Expedition under the Command of Lewis and Clark . . . Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep; New York: Abrm. H. Inskeep, J. Maxwell: 1814), which was recently repulled for the first time (see no. 566). Also, there are two huge copper plates pertaining to the port of Philadelphia which were used in the publication of the Atlantic Neptune (see no. 1659).2

The origin of the Library's map collection may be traced ultimately to Benjamin Franklin, who founded the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States, in 1743. In that year Franklin published a prospectus for the Society, A proposal for promoting useful knowledge among the British plantations in America, which specified that there be at least seven members from Philadelphia, one of them a geographer. Further, he added that the subjects of correspondence among the members should include Surveys, Maps and Charts of particular Parts of the Sea-coasts, or Inland Countries; Course and Junction of Rivers and great Roads, Situation of Lakes and Mountains, Nature of the Soil and Productions; &c.

Franklin himself was keenly interested in maps, and in 1785 on his return to America he made thermometrical observations and sketched a chart of the Gulf Stream, which was published in the second volume of the Society's Transactions in 1786 (see nos. 1622-1626).

1 The number of manuscript maps is perhaps misleadingly large because it includes maps, however small, from notebooks in the collections of J. Peter Lesley (ca. 300 maps), Richard Joel Russell (40), Elsie Clews Parsons (37) , and Robert Cushman Murphy (35). Aside from these, there are some 600 manuscript maps described in this catalogue.

2 Numbers given for maps are entry numbers. Manuscript maps are denoted by two numbers: an entry number for the collection, followed by a number in parentheses for the individual map within that collection.

Few, if any, maps were acquired in this early period, for by 1746 the American Philosophical Society had lapsed into inactivity. In 1769, however, the Society was revived and united with the American Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge to form the "American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia, for Promoting Useful Knowledge." Two years later the Library of the Society was begun when the Society published its first volume of Transactions and commenced a system of exchange of publications with sister institutions which continues to this day. Initially, maps were considered part of the Cabinet of Curiosities, or Museum, rather than the Library. However, by 1850 maps had become part of the Library and were no longer included as part of the Cabinet. The collection grew through gifts, purchases, and exchange of publications.

The bulk of the American Philosophical Society Library's map collection is more or less evenly distributed among four fifty-year periods: 1751-1800 includes 532 maps; 1801-1850 includes 326 maps; 1851-1900 includes 472 maps; and 1901-date includes 430 maps.

The earliest individual map (excluding facsimiles) is Le pais de Brie by Guiljemus Blaeu, published ca. 1644 (no. 245). Even older maps may be found in the atlases, such as the The-atrum orbis terrarum by Ortelius, ca. 1569-70. The most recent map is the General highway map of Oconee County, South Carolina, published in 1983 (no. 1169a).

For the period subsequent to 1850 many of the maps acquired were government publications, both state and federal. Two prominent members of the Society, Alexander Dallas Bache and Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (as it came to be known), forwarded many maps as they were issued, as did some of the outstanding geologists as they explored the West. The geology maps continue to arrive to this date, but most of them are not included in this catalogue, for they are in book form or in hard boxes for storage, and are filed with the publications they illustrate.

Not surprisingly, North America is the principal geographical area represented in the collection. Maps of North America, principally the United States, make up two-thirds of the printed maps. Over one-half of the manuscript maps are of North American locations, of which three-fourths are Pennsylvania sites. The next best represented area of the world is Europe, which accounts for about 15 percent of the printed maps and 8 percent of the manuscript maps.

Of course, quantity is not necessarily a measure of inherent interest or uniqueness. For instance, while there are only 33 manuscript maps of the Arctic region, they include maps from the papers of Elisha Kent Kane (1820-1857; APS 1851), who made two voyages in the 1850s searching for the lost Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin [nos. 23 (1-12) and 32 (79)]. Another small but interesting group of Arctic maps are those made or gathered by the noted anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942; APS 1903) during his studies of Baffin Island Eskimos in the early 1880s [no. 6 (1-6)]. There is also a stunning series of 38 colored manuscript maps, dated 1800-1801, of Cuba, St. Domingue (Haiti), and Puerto Rico, made by Georges Joseph de Bois St. Lys and others [no. 32 (25-29, 32-53, 55-64)].

Indeed, there is a wealth of manuscript maps in the APS Library, of which the following are a few of the outstanding examples:

* Although poorly delineated, the map of the Appalachian Mountains made by John Bartram ca. 1750 is noteworthy for showing the areas where fossil sea shells had been found; it was presented to the Society by Benjamin Franklin, who wrote on the back: "Mr. Bartram's Map very curious" [no. 32 (3)].

* By contrast, one of the loveliest eighteenth-century maps in the collection was drawn by John Bartram's son, William Bartram. It is of "The Great Alachua Savana, in east Florida," showing the drainage of the "Savana" [no. 4 (1)].

* All the maps in the journals from the Lewis and Clark expedition are of great historical interest, but the one of the Great Falls and Portage of the Missouri River is particularly beautiful [no. 28 (2)].

* A map of the British fortifications of Boston Neck is of importance because it was presented with the Richard Henry Lee Papers [no. 25 (1)].

* A map drawn by Thomas Jefferson is based on his survey of 400 acres of Virginia land which devolved upon him through his wife. His conveyance of the land to Nicholas Lewis is with the map [no. 22 (1)].

* A map by Frederick Ridgely, "An Eye-Draught of the Mammoth-Cave in Warren County, Kentucky," was done by eye, for "the [compass] needle does not traverse" the cave [no. 2(5)].

* A map of New York City drawn ca. 1776 by Charles Willson Peale shows the British and American army positions [no. 38 (2)].

* The War of 1812 found the nation unprepared, so General Jonathan Williams (nephew of Benjamin Franklin, the first Superintendent of West Point, and an active member of the American Philosophical Society) ordered William Strickland to make a map of "the country nine miles west of the city of Philadelphia" for the "sub-committee of defence" [no. 32 (68)]. Strickland, a famous architect, also was a member of the Society.

* APS member James Wilkinson sketched the "Muscle Shoals of the Tenessee [sic] River" in 1802 [no. 32 (66)].

* Sebastian Bauman made three preliminary drafts, dated 22-28 October 1781, of the "Plan of Yorktown, Virginia, depicting the armies when Cornwallis surrendered" [no. 32 (9)]. Although the pencil sketches are blurred, they are magnificent.

* General Henry Dearborn and Henry de Berniere made a map of the "action on the heights of Charles Town 17June 1775, between his magestys troops under the command of M. Genl. Howe & a large body of American rebels," and the "parts in red are corrections of the original by Maj. Gen. Dearborn" [no. 32 (6)].

Among the many treasures found in the printed maps are the following:

* One of the oldest maps in the collection (and certainly the largest, measuring approximately eight feet by eight feet) is Henry Popple and Clement Lempriere's 1733 "Map of the British empire in America with the French and Spanish settlements adjacent thereto" (no. 449). Presented to the Society in 1834, it is probably one of the great maps which hung in Independence Hall in July 1776. The map has been deacidified, repaired, and remounted, and was a prominent feature of the 1976 bicentennial exhibition, A Rising People, organized by the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the American Philosophical Society. It was also displayed in the 1988 Legacies of Genius exhibition organized by the Society and fifteen other members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.

* Another printed map with unique associations is the "Plan of the city of Washington in the territory of Columbia, ceded by the states of Virginia and Maryland to the United States of America," published in 1792 by James Thackara (no. 1078). It was presented by George Washington on 22 April 1793 to the Earl of Buchan, an avid Scots republican and a member of the American Philosophical Society, who in turn gave it to the Society on 17 July 1793.

The two most outstanding maps the American Philosophical Society ever published were:

* The 1771 map by Thomas Fisher (reprinted 1789) of a proposed canal across the Delmarva Peninsula connecting the Chesapeake and Delaware bays (nos. 760 and 760a), and

* William Maclure's geological map of the United States, published in 1818 (no. 570). Both maps appeared in the Society's Transactions.

The uses to which the maps have been put have varied over the years. The most common is reference and research. Some maps have been borrowed for exhibitions, such as the Popple map noted above. Perhaps the most important use of the maps concerned the Northeast Boundary Dispute with Great Britain of 1828-29. Two maps were borrowed by Albert Gallatin and were bound in the volume to be placed before the arbiter, the king of The Netherlands (nos. 453 and 550). They were not returned until 1852.

Over the centuries a few maps have been lost and never recovered. For the sake of completeness, and with the hope that they someday may be found, they are listed as follows:

1. On 20 July 1769 a draft from actual surveys of the Mississippi River to Fort Chartres was received, as was another draft of the Mobile River to Fort "Tombeebe, a length of 96 leagues, taken from the survey made by Philip Pilman in 1767." These were presented by D. Clark through Hugh Williamson.

2. John J. Hawkins sent a sketch of a proposed city which was received 19 September 1800. The description runs four large pages of small script, but the plat has disappeared. The members of the Society took this sketch seriously, for towns were being founded all along the frontier, and the committee's report was comprehensive. [Library staff located this map in 2006. It is now listed in Manuscript Maps - 2.American Philosophical Society. Archives. Manuscripts Communicated to the A.P.S.]

3. Ambroise Tardieu presented "Cartes des Etats Unis" in four sheets, the same in smaller size, and "Carte des Indes Occidentales," both of which arrived 4 November 1808.

4. Around 5 November 1824 Gaspard Deabatte presented a map of Turin, Italy.

5. Prior to 1826 Henry Schenk Tanner presented his map of Mexico which he had published the previous year.

6. P. W. Sheafer sent on 7 April 1865 a manuscript sketch showing the tidewater area "relative to the various coal and oil regions of the U.S." Eli Bowen used this "in publishing his late work on coal and oil fields."

7. Archibald Campbell gave on 20 September 1867 two sheets of a photographic copy of the Northwest Boundary Survey.

8. The preliminary map of Ohio, prepared by the chief geologist of the state, J. S. Newberry, was received 16 December 1870 as a gift from the State of Ohio.

9. The (California?) Commission on Irrigation presented 6 November 1874 a "fine map of California" and a map of the delta of Canvery(?).

Manuscript Maps (nos. 1-52) approximately 1,000 maps
Printed Maps (nos. 53-1635) 1,750 maps
Atlases (nos. 1636-1771) 135 maps
Globes (nos. 1772-1774) 2 globes and 1 model


The catalogue is divided into four parts: Manuscript Maps (nos. 1-52), Printed Maps (nos. 53-1635), Atlases (nos. 1636-1771), and Globes and Model (nos. 1772-1774). Each part has its own format, given below.

When the issue date of a map is unknown, I have used the earliest known date and have bracketed the date. A case in point is the West India-Pilot, an atlas of the West Indies by Joseph Smith Speer (nos. 1145, 1170, 1503, 1509-13, 1520-34, 1565-67). As I worked on the map collection, these maps, individually catalogued and filed, seemed to me to have been issued as an atlas which had never been bound. I checked them against the bound atlas in the Library Company of Philadelphia and therefore was able to use the title page imprint for the date of issue. Another example was the material presented by Mathew Carey in 1803 which he used for William Guthrie's The general atlas for Carey's edition of his geography improved (1795). I assumed that he included a series of such maps which were "made for Chamber's edition of Guthrie" as is engraved on some of the plates (nos. 128, 153, 160, 192, 195, 233, 306, 308, 350, 361, 367, 424, 1554, 1555). There was never an edition by Chambers, and the maps were the same size and format of the Carey edition, so I appended the donation note to them. Manuscript maps were included by Carey, also, in this gift [nos. 32 (18a-19, 21-21a, 23-24)].

Facsimiles and reprints are listed by the date of the original map.

Titles of maps generally have been transcribed as they appear on the map. Idiosyncrasies of spelling and punctuation likewise have been preserved, although a few silent changes were made in order to insure clarity. Supplied titles have been bracketed.

The call number of each collection, map, or atlas was included for ready reference by any researcher who wishes to see the map in question or acquire additional information from it. There is also a note following the call number: Small, Large, Oversize, or Extra-oversize. Since many maps are trimmed, mounted on linen, or folded, it is important to remember that such notes as Small, etc. refer to the location of an item, not to the size of the map (which is listed elsewhere in the entry and is given in centimeters).

Manuscript Maps
The manuscript maps are ordered alphabetically by name of collection, and chronologically within each collection. Manuscript maps have two numbers: the collection entry number, followed by the number of the map within the collection set in parentheses. For instance, the maps in the Lewis and Clark journals (entry number 28) are 28 (1), 28 (2), 28 (3), etc. Manuscript maps are described as follows as the information warrants:
  • Name of Collection
  • Date (date of reproduction is used for facsimiles)
  • Title or description (supplied titles are bracketed)
  • Number of pieces (if more than one)
  • Scale
  • Cartographer
  • Size of paper
  • Colored
  • Provenance
  • Note (publication, cross-references, bibliographic references, etc.)
  • Call number

Printed Maps
The printed maps are arranged in the order in which they were catalogued, which for the most part follows the Dewey Decimal area classification system. Within a given area or country they are arranged chronologically. "Wheat numbers" are given for maps cited in James Clement Wheat and Christian F. Brun's Maps and charts published in America before 1800. A bibliography. The printed maps are described as follows as the information warrants:
  • Date (date of reproduction is used for facsimiles)
  • Title or description (supplied titles are bracketed)
  • Number of pieces (if more than one)
  • Scale
  • Cartographer(s)
  • Engraver(s)
  • Size (neat line, plate impression, or size of paper; unless otherwise noted, measurements are taken from neat lines)
  • Inset(s)
  • Coloring
  • Provenance
  • Note (cross-references, bibliographical references, etc.)
  • Wheat number
  • Call number

Atlases are listed in chronological order. They are described as follows as the information warrants:
  • Date (date of reproduction is used for facsimiles)
  • Title or description
  • Cartographer(s)
  • Engraver(s)
  • Size (height at spine)
  • Provenance
  • Note (cross-references, bibliographical references, etc.)
  • Call number

Globes and Model
The globes and model are entered as follows as the information warrants:
  • Date
  • Description
  • Cartographer(s)
  • Engraver(s)
  • Size (diameter of globe)
  • Colored
  • Provenance
  • Note (cross-references, bibliographic references, etc.)

Administrative information

Processing information
Murphy D. Smith created the original guide 1991; Ellen Foster edited the online version in 2005.

Contact information
American Philosophical Society
105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386


  Sponsor:Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, 2005
Detailed inventory
View inventory of Manuscript Maps (1-52)

View inventory of Printed Maps (53-1635)

View inventory of Atlases (1636-1771)

View inventory of Globes (1772-1774)

View Manuscript Map Images

View Printed Map Images