A Fife with Two Owners: Part of “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection”
The oldest book in our library collection: A Geneva ("Breeches") Bible, 1580

Lecture: Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the Eighteenth Century

David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps at Historic Deerfield, explores “Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the Eighteenth Century,” at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Saturday, June 7 at 2 pm. The lecture is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

For much of the 18th century, map publishing in America was a financially precarious undertaking. The same held true in Boston, where individuals from many walks of life ventured into commercial mapmaking. Bosse's lecture will explore the work of several Boston mapmakers during an era of ad-hoc publishing.

Map Osgood-Carleton DP3DBThe image to the right shows the 1798 first edition of Osgood Carleton's map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, held by our Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives. Carleton, a veteran of both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War and one of the few Americans trained in military engineering and mapmaking, established himself as a leader among American mapmakers of the post-Revolutionary period. From his shop on Oliver's Dock in Boston, he published navigation and mathematics textbooks as well as maps of Boston, Massachusetts, the District of Maine, New Hampshire, the United States, nautical charts, and a marine atlas, in addition to running a school for navigation, mathematics, and cartography.

Map Osgood-Carleton DP4DBCarleton's "Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" was the first official map of the new state, an idea he proposed to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1794. Massachusetts sorely needed this instrument to monitor and stimulate settlement, commerce, and development of transportation networks. (Previous regional mapping projects on this scale dated back to the 1750s, such as the map discussed in our earlier blog post.) Because the new Federal government was unable to provide support and the Commonwealth was also short on cash, Osgood funded this large-scale project through the support of many individual subscribers. The complex undertaking became frought with problems when not all Massachusetts towns were able to complete accurate new surveys of the lands within their bounds.

for monitoring and stimulating settlement, commerce, and development of transportation networks; as well as for delineating public lands available for sale. With a relatively weak Federal government unable to provide support and themselves short on cash, states had to come up with creative models for funding these labor intensive projects.
- See more at: http://www.bostonraremaps.com/catalogues/BRM1315.HTM#sthash.jss8KTvy.dpuf

To hear more about Carelton's "Accurate Map," as well as other tales of Boston cartographers, please join us and our speaker on Saturday, June 7th. David Bosse is Librarian of Historic Deerfield and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, and curator of maps at Historic Deerfield. He formerly served as curator of maps at the Clements Library of the University of Michigan, and assistant map curator at the Newberry Library, Chicago. His research on the early American map trade has appeared in Mapping Boston (MIT Press, 1999), the journal Cartographica, and in the online journal, Coordinates.

This talk is part of the Museum's 2014 lecture series: “Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History.” Starting in September, we will have three more map-related programs in this series related to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library’s collection of historic maps:

Saturday, September 13, 2 PM
Reinventing the Map
Susan Schulten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Denver

Saturday, October 4, 2 PM
Cartographic Encounters: Native Americans in the Exploration and Mapping of North America
John Rennie Short, Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Saturday, November 22, 10 AM – 12:30 PM
Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools
Registration is required; click here for more information.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.


David Bosse, "The Boston Map Trade of the Eighteenth Century." In: Alex Krieger and David Cobb, eds., with Amy Turner. Mapping Boston (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1999), p. 51.

For more information on the Carleton map, click here and here.

Image credits:

An Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…, [1798].  Osgood Carleton (1742-1816).  Boston, Massachusetts.  Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, 75.19.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Detail, An Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…, [1798].  Osgood Carleton (1742-1816).  Boston, Massachusetts.  Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, 75.19.  Photograph by David Bohl.


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