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Rare Spanish manuscript map showing the western borders of the Louisiana Purchase arrives at the Library of Congress

Today’s guest post is by Anthony Páez Mullan, a cartographic reference specialist in the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress. He specializes in the historical cartography of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Iberian Peninsula and is a co-author of the “Luso-Hispanic World in Maps.” The Library of Congress recently acquired an important […]

Name Your Poison: Glyphic Designs on Maya Miniature Flasks in the Jay I. Kislak Collection

Today’s guest post was written by Graham Atkinson, a Research Volunteer in the Geography and Map Division, who works with the Pre-Columbian objects in the Jay I. Kislak Collections. He received his doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University, and has spent most of his career applying mathematical and statistical techniques to health care. Graham also […]

Charting the Gulf Stream

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) noticed something odd as Deputy Postmaster General for the American colonies in London: mail took much longer travelling west across the Atlantic than it did travelling east. Several weeks longer, in fact. In a 1746 letter, Franklin ascribes this anomaly to an effect of the Earth’s rotation, making an eastward journey faster […]

In Maudslay’s Shadow: Imaging Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica

The Library of Congress’ Geography and Map Division is home to a large collection of Pre-Columbian archaeological artifacts donated by the collector Jay I. Kislak, many of which are on display as part of the Exploring the Early Americas Exhibit in the Thomas Jefferson Building here in Washington, DC. The artifacts that make up the […]

“Full of Bogs and Poisonous Fruits”: Early Maps of Florida

Florida: home to sunshine, oranges, spring breakers, and snowbirds. Or, in the words of the 16th century Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto: “full of bogs and poisonous fruits, barren, and the worst country that is warmed by the sun.” For over a hundred years, between Columbus’ initial contact in the Bahamas (1492) and the English […]

Mr. Dürer Comes to Washington

In  the cool summer of 1901,  a Jesuit priest named Joseph Fischer was searching through the small libraries found in the country houses and ancient castles of the old noble families that dot the German hinterlands. One day, in the tower of one of those castles, tucked deep into the forest outside the tiny village of Wolfegg, he happened upon a book that […]