As of July 6th, APS offices are open to staff and invited visitors. The Society will remain closed to the public until further notice. Library & Museum staff now have access to our collections and will respond to reference and photoduplication requests as soon as possible. However, please note that response times may be delayed due to increased demand. The Society will continue a robust slate of virtual programs throughout the fall. Read more about virtual programming and resources that can be accessed remotely. For further information on the APS reopening and its COVID response, please click here.

Mapping a Nation: Shaping the Early American Republic (Online Exhibition)

American Philosophical Society, 105 S. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

In Early America, people used maps to define physical and political borders and to illustrate ideas about the world. The processes of mapmaking—surveying, drawing, engraving, and printing—could produce competing visions of the same landscape.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, maps of North America were battlegrounds on which European empires, Native American nations, and North American colonists fought for control of territory and resources. After the American Revolution, maps became part of the nation-building process.

Even as mapmakers sought to represent a connected and united citizenry, maps reinforced the exclusion of many groups from full participation in the new nation. The United States imagined by these maps continued to displace Native peoples from their lands to create spaces for westward expansion. Maps from the Early Republic (c. 1780–1816) reveal just how complicated the process of nation-building was—and continues to be today.