How Maps Became Modern

This is a companion site to the book, Mapping the Nation, which explores a tremendously creative era in American cartography.

From maps of disease and the weather to the earliest maps of the national population, this was a period when the very concept of a map was reinvented. By the early twentieth century, maps had become common tools of analysis, communication, and visual representation in an increasingly complex nation.

Today we live in a world that is saturated with maps and graphic knowledge. The maps on this site reveal how this involved a fundamentally new way of thinking.

Browse Images by Book Chapter

Map from Chapter One

Chapter 2: Capturing the Past Through Maps

Antique maps may command high prices today, but this wasn't always the case. Here we examine how old maps came to be considered valuable, which was related to the rising popularity of historical atlases and the campaign to create a national archive of maps at the Library of Congress.