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News Release

For immediate use

Oct. 16, 2006 -- No. 484

Library's NC maps, 1776-1860,
trace state's development

CHAPEL HILL - "Defining a State: A Selection of Maps of North Carolina, 1776 - 1860," will be an exhibition Thursday (Oct. 19) through Jan. 31 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Wilson Library.

The exhibition will draw on the library's collections to trace economic, geographic and political shifts that shaped the state between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Bob Anthony, curator of the library's North Carolina Collection, and Jay Lester, a Chapel Hill map enthusiast, will speak about the exhibition at a free public opening reception at 5 p.m. Thursday in the library.

Most of the 28 items shown will be from the North Carolina Collection, one of the largest state-focused collections in an academic research library. Of the 250,000 printed items in the North Carolina Collection, nearly 5,500 are maps, Anthony said.

"Defining a State" follows up a 1997 library exhibition of maps of the region made before 1776. The exhibition also will include a 1793 hand-drawn map from the University Archives, which shows the layout for the early UNC campus before its development. An atlas by noted cartographer Fielding Lucas Jr. also will be displayed.

The maps show the evolution in cartographers' understanding of the geographic layout of the state, said Neil Fulghum, keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery. Changes also can be seen in where county lines are drawn; the extent and pace of development across the state; trading patterns; and the development of railroads.

"It's surprising how complex the agrarian state of North Carolina became between 1776 and the Civil War," Fulghum said. "It makes you appreciate the substantial changes that were occurring in the South."

The exhibition also will illustrate the origin of map-making in the United States. Before the mid-1790s, Fulghum said, nearly every map depicting the Americas was produced in European countries vested in exploring the New World. That changed by the early decades of the 19th century, when maps of increasing quantity and quality were being produced in the United States, Fulghum said.

The North Carolina Collection Gallery (962-1172) is open Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For information about the opening reception, contact Liza Terll at (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu.

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(Senior journalism and mass communication major Margaret Hair of Greensboro wrote this release.)

Library contacts: Judith Panitch, (919) 962-1301, panitch@email.unc.edu; Bob Anthony, (919) 962-1172, ranthony@email.unc.edu
News Services contact: L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589