2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


Did you know?
Introduction Section 1:
Cultural Assumption
Section 2:
Ethnographic Record
Section 3:
Section 4:
Political Instrument
Section 5:
Section 6:
Art & Craft
Section 7:
Biographies of Mapmakers & Artists Bibliography

Throughout history certain maps appeared which, because of accurate details and incorporation of the results of new explorations, cartographers call "foundation," or "mother," maps. Their influence persisted long after later discoveries and settlements because until the nineteenth century, most mapmakers reproduced their predecessor's work. True geographers were few and far between, and most mapmakers were simply draftsmen, engravers, or map publishers wishing to issue "new" maps. "Changes" often consisted of scratching off the date of publication from an earlier copperplate and replacing it with a more recent date. Sometimes the publisher did not even bother to alter the plate. He merely erased the date on unsold maps, inserted a more recent date, and advertised the map as a new edition. Sometimes "new" maps were created by incorporating, more or less haphazardly, various place-names, rivers, and other geographical features of previously printed maps.

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Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi Dressée sur un grand nombre de Memoires entrautres sur ceux de Mr. le Maire
[Map of Louisiana and the Course of the Mississippi, Drawn from a Large Number of Reports, and among others on those of Mr. le Maire]

Guillaume Delisle, mapmaker
Paris, June 1718
This map was one of the most important and influential early eighteenth-century foundation maps of the Mississippi Valley. It is the first detailed map of the Gulf region and the Mississippi, the first printed map to show Texas as a name (Mission de los Teijas), and the first to show some of the land routes of earlier centuries. Quickly copied by French, Dutch, German, Italian, and English mapmakers, it was the chief authority for the Mississippi River for over fifty years. Although New Orleans was founded in 1718, the year this map was published, it was not shown on the first edition.

A striking characteristic of the map is the nearly correct delineation of the Mississippi River, which differs little from that of present-day maps. The Appalachian, Ozark, and Rocky Mountains are properly located. The map includes several references to such mineral resources as salt, copper, lead, and iron and clearly locates many Indian tribes. Some are represented as errantes (wandering) and Antropophagi (cannibals), references to the Attakapa Indians.

This was the first modern map to trace the route of Hernando de Soto; it also traces the routes of Alonso de Leon in 1689, Louis Jouchereau St. Denis in 1713 1716, and other explorers.

The Mr. le Maire to whom Delisle expresses his special indebtedness for information used in this map, was François le Maire, a French missionary at Mobile who had an interest in geography and the skill required to draw accurate maps. Le Maire sent information to the priests of his order in Paris. Among these was Father Bobé, a friend of the Delisles, who gave to Delisle le Maire's memoirs and maps, which included the many new features in North America.

Loaned by Gaspar Cusachs


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A Map of Louisiana and of the River Mississipi
John Senex, mapmaker
London, 1721
The British imitation of Delisle's 1718 map, described as "a most impudent plagiarism" by one reviewer, does not include Delisle's reference to the French priority of settlement and does not represent as large an area as does Delisle's map.

The decorative elements of this map portray Europe's belief that fabulous riches awaited those who came to the New World. The left side represents the New World's agricultural wealth while the right symbolizes mineral wealth. Sitting atop the elaborately engraved title cartouche is a winged female figure personifying Fame. She holds a laurel branch in one hand, a trumpet in the other. A cherub holds an upright cornucopia filled with agricultural bounties, and sugarcane grows below. Another cherub pours coins from an overturned cornucopia toward two cherubim busily working in a mine presumably a gold or silver mine. The male figure holding an overturned urn with water pouring forth personifies the Mississippi River.

Gift of Samuel Wilson


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Carte de la Nouvelle France ou se voit le cours des Grandes Rivieres de S. Laurens & de Mississipi
[Map of New France Showing the Course of the Great Rivers St. Lawrence and Mississippi]

Gerard van Keulen, mapmaker
Amsterdam, 1718
Relying heavily on Delisle's 1718 map, van Kuelen omitted New Orleans (or did not yet have that information), did not include De Soto's route, and added the location of many Indian tribes. The Dutch mapmaker delineated all of New England and much of Canada and depicted Florida as a complete peninsula unlike Delisle, who identified the area as an archipelago, a common error of early European cartographers.

This map includes the legend, seen to the west of the Mississippi River, "land filled with herds of wild buffalo (pays remoli de troupeaux de Bouefs Sauvages)."

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin


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Carta Geografica Della Florida Nell'America Settentrionale
[Geographical Map of Florida in North America]

Unidentified mapmaker
c. 1740
While partly relying on Delisle's 1718 map, this unidentified Italian mapmaker omitted much detail, including the founding of New Orleans.

One of the remarkable features of this map is the title cartouche depicting Native Americans hunting sleeping lions. European engravers and mapmakers commonly confused attributes of the Americas with those of Africa, and they often interchanged the flora and fauna of the three continents. It is also possible that the engraver was attempting to illustrate the American cougar, described by early explorers as a lion.

Gift of the Friends of the Cabildo