Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

Sometimes, the most extraordinary maps can be “hiding” in plain sight, passed by, overlooked because they are a bit plain on the surface.  However, once you know the real story behind the map, it can take on a whole different meaning and look completely new and exciting.  One such map that fits this description can … Continue reading Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and You Can, Too!

Under the Valuation Act of 1913, the federal government of the United States directed the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to assess the value of railroad property located inside the United States.  This information was to be used to determine rates for transportation of freight via those rail lines.  This law was an amendment to the … Continue reading I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and You Can, Too!

Boston, 1775: A City Under Siege!

Of all the record groups in the Cartographic Department's holdings, one of the most interesting and varied is RG 77.   This record group, with its myriad of smaller series, holds many Revolutionary War, Civil War and Civil War-era maps, (both printed and manuscript), drawings and schematics of forts, posts, and reservations, and original designs for … Continue reading Boston, 1775: A City Under Siege!

The Moll Atlas: How the World Appeared in 1721

Among the many treasures tucked away in the Archives is a series of maps known simply as “The Moll Atlas” (RG 76, Series 30).  While the name might not initially scream “excitement”, the Moll Atlas is breathtaking for not only its complexity, but the sheer beauty of the maps themselves.  Unfortunately, this is not the … Continue reading The Moll Atlas: How the World Appeared in 1721

When James McNeill Whistler Worked for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey

Most of us know about James McNeill Whistler’s famous work “Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1: The Artist’s Mother”, more commonly known as simply “Whistler’s Mother”, but my guess is that we know somewhat less about some of his other works.  For instance, did you know that in the cartographic holdings of the National … Continue reading When James McNeill Whistler Worked for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey

How a Booklet of General Plans Helped Save 32 Trapped Sailors After the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Among the vast holdings of the National Archives, in Record Group 19: Alphabetical Series of Ship Engineering Drawings, are a type of ship plans known simply as “Booklets of General Plans”.  These plans are illustrations various vessels showing elements such as the starboard and portside views of boats, schematics of weaponry, and deck layouts including … Continue reading How a Booklet of General Plans Helped Save 32 Trapped Sailors After the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Lynxes and Alligators and Ships, Oh, My! The Ships of the Ware Collection

Tucked away at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, in Record Group 45: Drawings of Naval Vessels and Equipment, is a series of magnificent ship drawings known simply as “The Ware Collection”.  Named for Charles Ware, the artist that created them, the collection offers a high degree of detail and an eye-catching splash of red, … Continue reading Lynxes and Alligators and Ships, Oh, My! The Ships of the Ware Collection

Now You See Me, Now You…..Still See Me? Hand-Painted British Dazzle Camouflage Templates from WWI

Record Group 19, Camouflage Design Drawings for U.S. Navy Commissioned Ships, U.S. Merchant Ships and British Ships contains some of the more colorful ship designs to ever sail in a military fleet. It is in this record group is where you will find the color and design templates for British Dazzle Camouflage.  There are over … Continue reading Now You See Me, Now You…..Still See Me? Hand-Painted British Dazzle Camouflage Templates from WWI

A Brief Glimpse of the German Empire Through the Lens of a State Seal

A Brief Glimpse of the German Empire Through the Lens of a State Seal      Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a series of sailing directions found in RG 456, Foreign Sailing Directions. These volumes are mostly smallish, bound books published by individual governments and collected by the Defense Mapping Agency and … Continue reading A Brief Glimpse of the German Empire Through the Lens of a State Seal