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Mapping Virginia

From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War
William C. Wooldridge. Foreword by John T. Casteen III

BUY Cloth · 392 pp. · 12 × 10.5 · ISBN 9780813932675 · $94.95 · Nov 2012

(Note: The limited deluxe edition of Mapping Virginia has sold out.)

As one of the chief gateways to the earliest exploration and settlement of the North American continent, Virginia was the subject of much imaginative thought and practical scrutiny. Not surprisingly, it possesses a fascinating cartographical heritage. Moving from the years preceding Jamestown to the dawn of the postbellum era, Mapping Virginia represents the most comprehensive available selection of printed maps from Virginia’s first three hundred years. Beginning with the first, tentative renderings of the mid-Atlantic coast in the sixteenth century, the book provides a detailed listing of the vast majority of the printed maps canvassing Virginia before 1830. A large group of maps depicting Virginia during the Civil War is also included. The maps are all reproduced through abundant illustrations, and each is placed in its historical context.

Because the legal and popularly conceived boundaries of Virginia were in flux for many generations, the maps encompass a great deal of geography not presently part of the commonwealth. As a result, the three centuries of maps collected here reflect an evolving idea of what Virginia is, a concept as much as a strict region--the lands and themes that came to mind at various points in time when a cartographer designed what he believed conveyed "Virginia."In addition to their great historic and geographic significance, the maps exhibit an exquisite artistry, placing before the reader breathtaking examples of the draftsman’s, engraver’s, and colorist’s craft. These qualities are on display in hundreds of illustrations, over half of which are in color.

Written for the general reader as well as the map connoisseur, Mapping Virginia demonstrates the remarkable process by which Virginia gradually, magically revealed its form to the collective mind.

Published for the Library at the Mariners' Museum in association with the Virginia Cartographical Society


Mapping Virginia provides a richly illustrated, comprehensive, and insightful view of how mapmakers perceived Virginia and how their vision changed over time to influence the cultural identity of the birthplace of our nation. William C. Wooldridge has meticulously researched over 300 of the most important and influential Virginia maps to provide an invaluable cartographic and historical resource that must certainly adorn the bookshelves of anyone interested in either history or maps.

Margaret Beck Pritchard, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

An indispensable addition to Chesapeake carto-bibliography by the dean of Virginia map collectors. Bill Wooldridge is also an able scholar. He carefully describes 300 maps from the largest private collection of early Virginia maps ever assembled and relates them to the broader currents of Virginia's history and cartographic evolution. His treatment is revelatory and unique.

Henry G. Taliaferro, Cohen & Taliaferro LLC, Rare and Antiquarian Maps

Readers can open the book at random and quickly lose themselves in vicarious journeys. But the enduring power of Mapping Virginia might lie in Wooldridge’s ability to deconstruct maps and show us how much more interesting they are than mere scientific recordings could ever be.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

[Over the course of] 40 years, Wooldridge compiled one of the most significant collections of historic Virginia maps ever assembled. More than 300 of the 'most important and influential' maps dating from the 16th century to just prior to the dawn of the 20th century are contained in his new book, 'Mapping Virginia.'"

Daily Progress

When Roanoker Bill Wooldridge paid $35 for a three-centuries-old Virginia map in a Heidelberg, Germany, shop he was hooked on map collecting. Forty years later, he has assembled an unusual collection of more than 300 maps for a beautiful book 'Mapping Virginia.'... For his commitment, he has been called 'the dean of Virginia map collectors.'... The book is the result of Wooldridge's prodigious research in geography and history.

Roanoke Times

Bill Wooldridge's 'Mapping Virginia' addresses the question of what Virginia maps say about Virginia history. More than presenting a history of Virginia's borders, Wooldridge analyzes and explores each map's underlying message to uncover a comprehensive and captivating story. Ultimately, 'Mapping Virginia' is a book about Virginia's evolving identity represented through mapping.

Albemarle Magazine

A volume of beautifully reproduced, full-color maps accompanied by commentary that empowers the general reader to explore the 'idea of Virginia' and the evolution of its boundaries.... VERDICT This fascinating and lavish volume will appeal to map mavens everywhere as well as collectors of Virginiana.

Library Journal starred review

Written for the general reader as well as the map connoisseur. The book's chronological presentation of virtually all maps ever made of the Commonwealth 'demonstrates the remarkable process by which Virginia gradually, magically revealed its form to the collective mind.'... Lavishly illustrated.

The Piedmont Virginian

[A] magnificent book from every angle... subject matter, content, design, authorship, comprehensiveness, readability, authority, craftsmanship, achievement... a landmark in the history of presenting maps... insightful and persuasive.

North Carolina Historical Review

About the Author(s): 

William C. Wooldridge has served as president of the John Marshall Foundation and of the Norfolk Historical Society and as chair of the map support group of the Library of Virginia.

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