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New Exhibit Celebrates the National Park Service Centennial and the Organic Act

Today’s post is from Jacqueline Nolan, a Cartographer in the Geography and Map Division.

Today officially marks 100 years of the National Park Service!

National parks are a cherished resource of the American public, and serve as inspiration to many countries and communities worldwide. A new exhibit open today in the Geography and Map Division celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service by highlighting the impetus for the Organic Act that established it as a national bureau. The Organic Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916, encapsulated the growing national sentiment to preserve pristine landscapes and conserve the national heritage for public enjoyment and use by future generations. The exhibit features an array of maps, from the engineering renditions of early federal mapping campaigns to a sample of maps capturing the evolution of the National Park Service system as it has expanded through federal legislative actions including the General Antiquities Act and the 1978 Redwoods Act.

Before the creation of the National Park Service, early maps of the beautiful natural landscapes that would become national parks helped garner greater interest in properly preserving and managing these lands on a national scale. Among these early maps is an 1860 geological cross-section of part of Shenandoah County, Virginia, in the current site of Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah Geology

“Geological section from S. Fork of Shenandoah R. to Lost R. (across Shenandoah Co.)” by Joseph Lesley, 1860. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Accompanying photographs from the Prints and Photographs collections capture the serene beauty of these majestic landscapes and heritage sites. For more information about the exhibit, contact Jacqueline Nolan at jnol@loc.gov.

Alpine Ridge

“Alpine Ridge, Denali National Park, Alaska” by Carol M. Highsmith, 2008. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Virtual Archaeology: Seeing the Kislak Pre-Columbian Collection in 3D

The following is a guest post by Helena Arose, Junior Fellow in the Geography and Map Division, who worked with the Pre-Columbian objects of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas during the summer of 2016. Helena has done fieldwork on Cyprus and is currently an archaeology student […]

Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Map Monsters

This blog post is part of a summer series on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. Read the introductory post to the series here. “You’re off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!” – Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the […]

Exploring the National Parks in the Geography and Map Division

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this month, there is no better time to highlight the Geography and Map Division’s special Digital Collection “Mapping the National Parks.” This curated collection includes nearly 200 maps, dating from the 17th century to the present, covering national parks and areas that in the future would become […]

The Map Collection of Neil Sheehan, Reporter of the Pentagon Papers

Today’s post is from Ryan Moore, a Cartographic Specialist in the Geography and Map Division. Cornelius Mahoney “Neil” Sheehan (1936- ) is a journalist best known for his reporting on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Department of Defense study of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Sheehan, when working as a reporter for The New York […]

Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Children’s Stories

This blog post is part of a summer series on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. Read the introductory post to the series here. Our journey into imaginary worlds continues this week with maps of imaginary places that are related to children’s literature. My first exposure […]

Maps for the Masses: Geography in the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

It is almost a cliché to say, but today, in 2016, maps are everywhere. The barriers to geographic information have come down so that anyone with internet access or a smart phone can see maps of the world in incredible detail. But the wide availability of maps to people of all walks of life is […]

Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: “Different Roads Sometimes Lead to the Same Castle”

This blog post is part of a summer series on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. Read the introductory post to the series here. “Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle. Who knows?” – George R.R. Martin We pick back up today with a comparison […]