Spring 2013 | Scottish rite Masonic Museum & library


n the 1970s the Scottish Rite 
Masonic Museum and Library 
counted historic maps among its 
first acquisitions. The 40 maps 

and related objects presented in “Jour-
neys and Discoveries” draw on that 

What is A map?

Maps are data; layers of text, images 
and symbols that represent a place at 
a certain time. Maps can help us find 
our way, imagine far away places or 
understand political and geographical 
 Rich with information, historic 
maps can tell us a lot about the past. 
They can also deceive us. No map is 
neutral; each has its own bias. Cen-
turies ago—and through today— 
mapmakers had a point of view that 
informed the choices they made about 
what to include, emphasize and leave 
off their portrayal of a location, route 
or area. Regardless of mapmakers’ 
agendas, most of the works displayed 
in “Journeys and Discoveries” em-
ployed commonly used conventions 
so they could be readily understood 

Journeys and Discoveries:


The Stories Maps Tell


by map readers. They include a direc-
tional orientation, often indicated by 
a compass rose; a scale, what a unit 
of measurement on the page repre-
sents in the landscape; and a key to 
map symbols, called a legend. 


Crafting these complicated images 
required the work of many hands. 
First, a mapmaker needed a survey of 
the area he wished to map. A survey-
or measured the land using compasses, 

Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae nec non Pennsylvaniae et partis Virginiae Tabula, ca. 1680.

Published by Justus Danckers or Danckerts (1635–1701), amsterdam, netherlands.

Van Gorden-Williams Library and archives, 006-75. Photo by David bohl. 

New York City & Vicinity.  

Courtesy of the osher map 

Library, university of  

southern maine.

Game of the States, ca. 1960.   

manufactured by the milton bradley 

Company, springfield, massachusetts. 

Gift of mrs. John Willey, 2006.026.2.