Top of page

Category: 17th century cartography

A stained glass window showing an image of Saint Brendan.

Searching for Saint Brendan’s Island

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

Over the years I have noticed the placement of Saint Brendan’s Island on historical maps. I became curious about the mythical island and the story behind it. Saint Brendan’s Island was placed in different locations on maps of the Atlantic Ocean. The island was often placed west of England and Ireland. It was also placed …

Brown, red, and yellow tinted map illustration of the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, with a circular frame around them

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Posted by: Julie Stoner

This is a guest post by Kelly Bilz, Librarian-in-Residence in the Geography and Map Division. From Jules Verne’s novel (the title of which I borrowed for this blog) to the 1956 movie The Mole People, many have wondered what happens under the surface of the Earth. And many people, from scientists to storytellers, have come up with …

Brown, red, and yellow tinted map illustration of the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, with a circular frame around them

“Eastern Branch of the Potomac River” or “Anacostia River”? A Cartographic Curiosity…

Posted by: Ed Redmond

One of the joys involved in answering reference questions submitted to the Geography and Map Division is that some questions (the fun ones!) frequently involve extensive research in the Library’s cartographic holdings. Staff of the Geography and Map Division are also fortunate to be able to consult photocopies of maps from other institutions, early photographs …

A hunter shooting at a large cat crossing a river.

The Exotic Animals of the Americas

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

European colonists were fascinated with the wildlife of the Western Hemisphere. They described fauna native to the Americas in memoirs, travel journals and poetry. Pictures of the unfamiliar animals were often printed on maps. In this post I will discuss four colonial era maps that were decorated with illustrations of animals. The two maps of …

A page from William Hacke's atlas.

William Hacke: A Pirate’s Cartographer

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

William Hacke was one of the most prolific manuscript chart makers for his time. According to the Oxford  Dictionary of National Biography Hacke produced over 300 navigational charts from 1682 to 1702. In this post I will briefly discuss his career and his role in the pardon of the notorious pirate Bartholomew Sharp. William Hacke was …