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Made in Boston Opens

November 12, 2013

Our new exhibition Made in Boston opened on November 8th. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, a majority of these maps “made in Boston” in the century before the American Revolution. As a group they are remarkable for their idiosyncrasies of style and important contributions to geographical knowledge.

Visit the exhibition in the Map Center Gallery or see a selection of the items online.

news Needham visit

Needham High School Visit

October 22, 2013

A group of 50 high school seniors from Needham High School recently visited the Map Center as part of an interdisciplinary class called The Greater Boston Project. Students are investigating how historical individuals and groups from the 17th-21st centuries worked to effect change. The Needham students examined a variety of Boston maps over time and discussed what kinds of information the mapmakers were trying to communicate. They also examined 19th century maps of their home town of Needham.

We welcome groups of all ages to visit the Leventhal Map Center. Best of all, programs are FREE.

To book a program, contact Michelle LeBlanc, Director of Education, mleblanc@bpl.org, 617-859-2294

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Recently Digitized

October 17, 2013

Over 200 maps have been digitized and added to the website. Notable additions in this latest batch include:


A new chart of the Mississippi River, the coast of west Florida, and part of Louisiana
Salem navigator Samuel Lambert published a small number of nautical charts, and few examples of each of his charts are recorded. With the addition of this previously unknown nautical chart of the Mississippi River, the Boston Public Library has 3 of his 7 known charts.

A map of New-England, being the first that ever was here cut...
Based on a 1665 survey by William Reed, John Foster's map of New England is the earliest map drawn, engraved and printed in North America. The survey was commissioned by the government of Massachusetts to justify the colony's northern and southern boundaries, which are indicated by two parallel lines on the map.

The map was prepared as a woodcut illustration for William Hubbard's A narrative of the troubles with the Indians in New England, which was published simultaneously in Boston and London. The London edition included many different spellings and is commonly called the Wine Hills version while the Boston edition is called the White Hills version. The Boston Public Library's White Hills version is in Hubbard's book in the Rare Books Department.

Other interesting additions:


Bird's-eye view of Derry, N.H.

1864 map of U.S. public lands showing mines

Charts of the Americas in Sir Robert Dudley's Dell'arcano del mare

1850 plan of markets in New York City

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Collections of Distinction Curator Profiles

October 3, 2013

Boston Public Library’s Collections of Distinction feature eighteen of the most outstanding, expansive, and renowned of the library’s holdings. Behind the collections are the curators who can expertly describe the significance of all the treasures found within. Map Center Curator Ronald Grim recently answered questions about the Maritime Charts and Atlases.

Visit the Collections of Distinction Curator Profiles page to meet Ron and other curators.

news michelle

New Director of Education

October 1, 2013

Michelle LeBlanc joins the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center as the Director of Education and Public Programming. Michelle has worked in the history education field in Boston, MA for over 15 years as a museum educator and as project director for a Teaching American History program that links teachers with historians and scholarly institutions to enrich their teaching. She holds a Master's degree in American History and Public History from Northeastern University.

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Recently Digitized

See our recently digitized maps

Powder horn

The powder horn features a map of Boston and Charlestown, Mass., noting Bunker Hill, Breed's Hill, Morton's Point, Mill Pond, Fox Hill, South Battery, Long Wharf and Hancocks wharf.

It includes an engraving of a British Man-o-war ship, an armorial shield for the 47th Foot, the abbreviation "G R" and floral decoration.


English Pilot. The Fourth Book

The English Pilot: The Fourth Book was the first British-produced collection of charts documenting the North American coast. John Seller first published the atlas series in 1671, which was issued in separate books, each detailing a specific geographic area. These charts of the Atlantic seaboard from Hudson’s Bay to the Amazon River, along with crudely executed coastal profiles, were the standard resources used by navigators for a century.

Our 1737 edition, which is bound together with The English Pilot, Part I, was recently conserved and charts of North America have been digitized.

chronicle video

Map Center featured on WCVB Chronicle

On April 2, the Leventhal Map Center was featured on the WCVB TV show Chronicle.

Click here to see the segment.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (http://maps.bpl.org)