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America the Beautiful
Uncle Sam on a tower with a searchlight looking over a map of the U.S.
[Detail] Uncle Sam and his search light.
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Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.
~John F. Kennedy

online resources
Especially for Teachers...

Atlantic World: The Dutch in America, The - (International) Learn about Dutch involvement in the exploration and settlement of North America. This collection includes a variety of maps This collection includes a variety of maps.

Atlas sive Cosmographicae - (Rare Books) Browse the pages of Mercator's 1595 atlas which includes 107 colored maps.

Battle of the Bulge: Interactive Essay, The - (Special Presentation) This unique presentation uses U.S. Army situation maps to illustrate this famous WWII battle. Your students will enjoy the interactivity and the historical expertise shared by Library of Congress curators.

Cartographic Formation of The North American Continent - (Exhibition)This animated presentation depicts the emerging European world view of North America from the time of Columbus through the late 1700s.

Conservation and Environment Maps - (American Memory Collection) The maps in this section of Maps Collections show early exploration and subsequent land use in various areas of the United States.

Country Profiles - (International) Link to information on a country’s historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and telecommunications, government and politics, and national security.

Country Studies - (International) Click on a continent to locate online versions of country handbooks published as part of the Country Study/Area Handbook series.

Exploring the Early Americas: The Jay I. Kislak Collection - (Exhibition) This exhibition examines indigenous cultures, the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and Europeans, and the changes caused by the meeting of the two worlds. Rare maps are featured throughout the exhibition.

Fill Up the Canvas...Rivers of Words: Exploring with Lewis and Clark - (Learning Page Activity) Experience Lewis and Clark's journey westward through words, images, maps and other documents.

France in America - (International) This collaborative digital library explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century. Search this collection using the term "maps".

Geography and Maps: An Illustrated Guide - (Special Presentation) Learn about the Geography and Map Division collections in this online guide.

George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker - (Special Presentation) Learn about George Washington\'s lifelong association with geography and cartography.

Guide to Washington, D.C., A - (Library of Congress Bibliography) This guide consists of materials relating to the history of Washington, D.C. from the Library of Congress sites and other related web sites. Maps are featured in this section.

Historial Paralelas: Parallel Histories - (International) Examine the history of Spanish expansion into North America in this international multimedia portal. Search this collection using the term "maps."

History of Mapping the Civil War - (Special Presentation) This article was reproduced from the book - Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress - compiled by Richard W. Stephens.

Immigration - (Feature) Observe the building of a nation. Click the globe for each ethnic group for a map of migration across the United States.

Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784-1894 - (Special Presentation) Locate maps and tables by date, tribe and state/territory in this Century of Lawmaking presentation of United States Serial Set, Number 4015.

Language of the Land: Journeys Into Literary America - (Exhibition) This exhibition offers an excursion into American literature through literary maps, photographs and quotations from works by American authors.

Los Angeles Mapped - (Exhibition) Examine maps as a guide to Los Angeles history.

Map of the British Plantations on the Continent of North America - (Document) This 1750s map includes colonial histories in the margins.

Mapping the National Parks - (Special Presentation) View the special presentations on Acadia, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone National Parks.

Mapping the West - (Exhibition) This animated presentation shows the routes of various expeditions from Lewis and Clark to the 1850s railroad surveys.

Maps in Our Lives - (Exhibition) The maps in this exhibition explore surveying, cartography, geodesy, and geographic information systems.

Meeting of the Frontiers - (International) This collaborative collection explores the comparative history of Russian expansion, American expansion westward, and the meeting of the Russian-America frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. A variety of maps are highlighted throughout the site.

National Atlas of the United States - (Document) This 1970 atlas is full of hundreds of maps. Compare these with maps in the 1870 statistical atlas.

Places in the News - (Special Presentation) Link to maps related to current events. Explore the Archives for previous maps.

Portals to the World - (International) Use these online resources to locate information about world nations.

Rivers, Edens, Empires - (Exhibition) This online exhibition and virtual tour feature Lewis and Clark maps and other resources documenting westward exploration.

Sources for the Lewis and Clark Expedition Maps of 1803 and 1814 - (Exhibition) This animated presentation shows how King's 1804 map was developed and how the 1814 map became the landmark product of the expedition.

Waldseemuller 1507 Map of the World - (Special Presentation) This was the first map to depict a separate Western Hemisphere, with the Pacific as a separate ocean. It was the first known document to name America.

Zoom Into Maps - (Learning Page Activity) Using historic maps from the Library of Congress, help students understand what maps can tell us.

  Especially for your Students...

America from the Great Depression to WWII: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945 - Geographic Index - (American Memory Collection) Explore the combined collections of color and black and white photographs by geographic location.

American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936: Geographic Location - (American Memory Collection) Click on a State to find photographs taken in that location.

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest: Geographic Location Index - (American Memory Collection) This collection of 2,300 photographs can be browsed by Geographic Location.

American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920: State Index - (American Memory Collection) Use this index to locate photographs taken in YOUR state.

American Revolution and Its Era: Geographic Location, The - (American Memory Collection) Explore American Revolution maps by geographic area.

American Treasures: Early Map of the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands - (Exhibition) This 1685 map includes an early view of New Amsterdam.

American Treasures: Exploring the Carolinas - (Exhibition) View a map and drawings documenting John White’s travels to the Carolina coast in the 1580s.

American Treasures: Indian Map of Ohio River Country - (Exhibition) This map was drawn by a Native American.

American Treasures: Map of Manhattan - (Exhibition) This 1639 map is the earliest portrayal of Manhattan and its surroundings.

Born in Slavery: States - (American Memory Collection) Browse this collection of slave narratives by state.

Built in America: Browse by State - (American Memory Collection) This collection of Historic American Building records can be browsed by state.

Civil War Maps: Browse by Place - (American Memory Collection) This collection of Civil War maps can be browsed by location.

Edward Curtis's The North American Indian: Browse by Geographic Location - (American Memory Collection) Explore Curtis's American Indian images by geographic location.

Explore the States - (America's Library) This fun activity allows children and their families to explore the 50 United States.

Geographical Fun Atlas - (Special Presentation) Explore twelve caricature maps of European countries in this 1869 atlas.

How Did America Get Its Name? - (Wise Guide) Read about Martin Waldseemuller\'s 1507 map and learn how America got its name.

Jump Back in Time: Congress Grants Connecticut the Western Reserve - (America's Library) Examine maps to learn more about the Western Reserve.

Jump Back in Time: January 26, 1837 (Michigan Becomes a State) - (America's Library) Explore an 1868 panoramic map of Muskegon, Michigan.

Jump Back in Time: May 21, 1796 (Reverdy Johnson Was Born) - (America's Library) View an 1856 map showing free and slave states.

Jump Back in Time: November 12, 1899 (Albert Ruger) - (America's Library) Learn about panoramic maps and pioneering map artist Albert Ruger.

Local Legacies: Celebrating Community Roots - (Local Legacies) Click on YOUR state to read stories from the Local Legacies Project.

Map of Explorers Trails – Meeting of Frontiers - (International) View a map showing Lewis and Clark, Fremont, Long and Pikes westward exploration routes from 1804 - 1860.

Panoramic Maps: Geographic Location - (American Memory Collection) Click on a State to locate maps of YOUR hometown.

Panoramic Photographs: Browse by Place - (American Memory Collection) This collection of panoramic photographs can be browsed by geographic location.

Printed Ephemera: Geographic Location of Printing - (American Memory Collection) Click on YOUR state to find documents printed in that location.

Railroad Maps: Browse by Geographic Location - (American Memory Collection) Click on YOUR state or region for area railroad maps.

Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Geographic Location Index - (American Memory Collection) This collection of late 1800s - early 1900s photographs can be browsed by geographic location.

WPA Life Histories: United States Map - (American Memory Collection) Click on a state to find Life Histories representing that state.

lesson plans

Use these lesson plans (created by educators for educators) to explore various maps and their uses with your students in your classroom:

Mapping My Spot in History - (Grades 6-8) Students create the history of their town to share with future generations. Students place themselves on the map in a literal as well as figurative sense, by producing portions of an updated version of an early twentieth century panoramic map from the American Memory collections.

Sea Changes: A Study of a New England Industry - (Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12,) Students study photographs, maps and interviews with two New England fishermen of the early 20th century, construct "found poetry", and research in Thomas to understand legislation restricting the fishing industry. Activity two features map analysis skills.

Drake’s West Indian Voyage 1588-1589 - (Grades 6-8,) Students investigate maps depicting a voyage by Sir Francis Drake involving attacks on Spanish settlements around the Atlantic. Students look closely at the details and draw conclusions about individual events as well as the entire voyage.

Waldseemuller’s Map: World 1507 - (Grades 6-8,) Students investigate this historic map by looking closely at the details of each section of the map and then draw conclusions on the revelation of this new and unusual world to the people of 1507.

Twain's Hannibal - (Grades 9-12) Using both primary source documents and print materials, students analyze life around Hannibal, Missouri, during the latter half of the 19th century to determine what effects this location had on the writings of Mark Twain. In Lesson One: Analysis of Primary Resources, students analyze panoramic maps. Lesson Two: Searching the American Memory Collection directs students to maps of Hannibal, MO for analysis.

Artifact Road Show - (Grades 3-5) Students act as historians, analyzing different artifacts. The lesson for Grade 4 – Linking Rare Finds examines the Nashua River. The lesson for Grade 6 – Turning Points is a lesson entirely based around students becoming cartographers and analyzing maps.

Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal - (Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8) Students trace Marco Paul’s 1840s journey through the Erie Canal. In the Chapter 1: Planning lesson, students trace the route and modes of transportation taken by Marco and Forester from New York City to Schenectady.

All History is Local - (Grades 9-12) Creating an archive of primary source materials constitutes the principal activity of a year-long American Studies class focusing on historiography and the use of primary sources. Maps are one of many types of primary sources used to explore local history.

Around the World in 1896 - (Grades 6-9) Students role-play the experiences of members of the World's Transportation Commission on their travels in 1896. Their itineraries are plotted and followed on world map, based on locales to visit and methods of transportation available at the time.

Explorations - (Grades 8-12) Students are introduced to historical perspectives of nature and the environment. In The Photographer, the Artist, and Yellowstone Park step 5, students use a special presentation from the Mapping the National Parks collection to research the creation Yellowstone National Park.


Is there a title (or two) that you always read to (or with) your students when teaching about United States maps? Are there invaluable reference books that you use when working with this theme? Staff from The Library of Congress have generously donated favorite titles for the maps theme. We hope you will contribute your favorite titles to our growing bibliography!

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collection connections

Create your own collaborative lesson plans using material related to this month's theme assembled from The Learning Page Collection Connections:

American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789, The - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Architecture and Interior Design for the 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955" - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

California As I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Civil War Maps - (Summary and Teaching Resources) This collection of more than 2,300 items provides students an opportunity to study the Civil War era through cartographic data.

Mapping the National Parks - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870 - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Panoramic Maps - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Railroad Maps, 1828-1900 - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

Map Collections - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

World War II Military Situation Maps - (Summary Only)

France in America - (Summary and Teaching Resources) This collaborative digital library explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century.

Atlantic World: American and the Netherlands - (Summary Only)

Meeting of the Frontiers: Siberia, Alaska and the American West - (Summary Only)

Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States and the American Frontier - (Summary and Teaching Resources)

United States and Brazil: Expanding Frontiers, Comparing Cultures, The - (Summary Only)

Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake - (Summary Only)

Hotchkiss Map Collection - (Summary Only) View maps made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographic engineer in the Confederate Army. The collection also includes post-war maps about railroads, minerals and mining, geology and history.

Rochambeau Map Collection - (Summary Only) The maps in this collection cover much of eastern North America, and date from 1717 to 1795.

Louisiana: European Explorations and the Louisiana Purchase - (This collection features 119 documents—from maps to newspapers to cultural artifacts - related to the inclusion of Louisiana into the nation.)

search terms

These terms may be useful when searching for items related to this theme in the American Memory collections.

Atlases Land use Names of rivers
Cartography Landscapes Names of states
Digital maps Maps Panoramic maps
Ecology Names of buildings Pictorial maps
Electronic maps Names of cities Railroad maps
Environment Names of continents Statistical data
Ethnic groups Names of counties Topography
Ethnology Names of countries Tourism
Geography Names of landforms Travel
Globes Names of mountains World maps
Insurance maps Names of monuments  

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Last updated 09/26/2002