Augusta Free Press

Historic maps that helped shape the United States: Exhibit sponsored by Augusta Historical Society

Maps show location, but also mirror their times.  The Augusta Historical Society will open an exhibit of maps September 5 at the R. R. Smith Center for History and Art, maps from the early 17th century to the early 18th century that not only show our nation as it became a nation, but may have played a role in that transformation.

The exhibit, entitled “Mapping America’s Early Years: A Tribute to the Vision of the Early Explorers and the Founding Fathers” includes 20 maps – 18 of them original –reflecting major historical events that helped shaped our nation – with an emphasis on Virginia.

Maps played a crucial role in defining territories and boundaries and were often used as the basis for the signing of significant treaties.  Included in the exhibit is a 1630 map of Virginia by William Blaeu, a famous Dutch cartographer; a 1670 map by J. Danckerts showing California as an island; and the critically important 1755 map of Virginia co-created by Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson.

The exhibit will run from September 5 through the end of the year in the History Gallery of the Smith Center, and includes the maps, story-boards and other materials to appeal to all ages and interest levels.  It tells the story of how the United States grew from 13 small British colonies hugging the East Coast to a vast nation of explorers and settlers that ultimately reached the shores of the Pacific.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The maps and materials were gathered by Scott Ballin, who is also curator of the exhibit.

The ACHS was founded in 1964 to study, collect, preserve, publish, educate about, and promote the history of Augusta County and its communities. The society marked its 50th year in 2014.  More information is available online at