Documents in Demand

By Lauren Eisenstodt Premium

The New-York Historical Society and Library of Congress (LOC) recently made two important acquisitions. In June, the New-York Historical Society <> adopted the Gilder Lehrman Collection <> of more than 40,000 manuscripts, diaries, maps, photographs, books and other treasures documenting four centuries of American history. The collection, which includes signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment to the Constitution, had been homeless for more than a year, since the Morgan Library in New York City, which had housed the collection, closed its doors for renovation. This fall, the New-York Historical Society will reopen the collection in a special, newly constructed area of its 77th Street building, where researchers can access the archives.

Meanwhile, just in time for its Lewis and Clark exhibition, which opened in July, the LOC <> completed its $10 million purchase of the only known copy of the 1507 world map by Martin Waldseemüller from Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg of Germany. Including data gathered by Amerigo Vespucci during his voyage to the New World in 1501-1502, Waldseemuuuller’s map supports Vespucci’s revolutionary notion of the New World on a separate continent. It’s the first map to show clearly a separate Western Hemisphere with the Pacific as a separate ocean and the new lands named America.

The map originally belonged to Johann Schöner (1477-1557), a Nuremberg astronomer, eographer and cartographer. The Germans believed the map to be lost until they rediscovered it in the Waldburg-Wolfegg castle in 1901. In 2004, the map will be on display in the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress. In the meantime, you can preview the map during the LOC’s Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America exhibit, through Nov. 29.
From the October 2003 Family Tree Magazine