Maps help us understand our physical world.
They can locate and describe places, provide a sense of direction, or represent boundaries between nations or neighbors.
This map, printed in the Netherlands, has an unusual orientation with western areas at the top of the map and the northern frontier to the side.
The Shape of Maine
This Exhibit Contains 46 Items
Maps help us understand our physical world.
People use maps to imagine, visualize and describe spatial relationships.
This 1829 Moses Greenleaf map shows the progress of the state's settlement since 1778, the representative districts since 1820, and the population and valuation of taxable property in each district in 1820.
Maps can be unique, one-of-a-kind hand-drawn manuscripts. Or they can be printed and produced in many copies.
This chromolithograph was the August R. Ohman Map Company's Map of Maine for the Maine State Year Book in 1905.
Whatever their style or format, all maps show boundaries of one type or another, from private property to national territory.
This chart shows the coastal boundaries of the state from Pemaquid Point to White Head.
It was created by G. F. Talbot in 1890.
Determining when, why, and how maps were made and used can stimulate our understanding of history and provide new perspectives about our world.
This is a copy of a map originally drawn on birch bark by Indian Chief Francis Joseph Neptune to assist with the survey of the Northeast boundary during the 1790s.
It shows lakes, trails, and carrying places between the Penobscot and St. John rivers.
When Europeans encountered the New World, they found lands that were quite unlike any they had known before.
This woodcut appeared in Giovanni Battista Ramusio's 1565 book "Delle Navigationi et Viaggi."
It described the newly discovered area of New England, and included references to the mythical land of Norumbega, as well as Naraganset (sic) Bay (Port de Refugio).
As they explored the northern coastline, Europeans discovered a wild and rugged territory, rich in natural resources, and populated by native peoples who had their own way of using and understanding the land.
In the 1800s quadrants like this were used as navigational equipment and to take astronomical measurements for surveying and map making.
The early explorers used maps to organize and understand these lands, and to divide them among the various groups of explorers, often ignoring the patterns of habitation established by native peoples.
Gunter's quadrant design is drawn on the face in colored inks and on the reverse is the declination diagram for mean years. "B.W./AD 1770/calculated [for] the Meridian/o[f] Boston/July [11th?] 1770."
Western European governments regulated colonial activities, awarding patents and charters to companies controlled by aristocrats, gentry, and merchants -- and expecting a share of future profits.
This map appeared in many different versions and shows the Dutch perspectives of colonial development in North America.
The colony of New Netherland extends north to the St. Lawrence, and New England is compressed into a small region.
The companies that received large tracts of land from their governments granted substantial portions to individuals, who explored, settled, and developed the land.
This map by Moses Greenleaf, printed in 1829, illustrates the various patents and charters that made up the region of Maine.
Land ownership always required the transfer of property from Native Americans to the colonists.
This deed documents George Munjoy's purchase of land near the Ammoncongin River (located on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook) from two Indians for three animal skins.
Indians and Europeans had extremely different understandings of the concept of land ownership. The exchange of land was sometimes equitable, but often forced.
Many parcels of the Kennebec claim were based on deeds with Native Americans. This map includes a small drawing of two native people saying, "God hath planted us here. God granted the land to us."
It suggests the bias of those who believed they had priority interest in the land because they held deeds from Native Americans, as opposed to others who were only granted land through charters.
Patents granted by various European rulers frequently overlapped. Squatters and unregulated settlers established their own claims on lands granted to the large companies and property holders.
This map locates the boundaries of different parcels of land and lists the sequence of ownership with dates of patents and agreements with Indians.
In dispute here was who owned the area around the Kennebec River, Kennebec Proprietors or the town of Brunswick. The dispute lasted until 1814.
Conflict over land and boundaries was pervasive in colonial America and led to legal and physical battles, and sometimes bloodshed.
This deed grants to Robert Trelawny land in the area of Scarborough. It was signed by Ferdinando Gorges and his brother Edmund.
In 1651, in an aggressive taking of land, Massachusetts Bay Colony reinterpreted its original charter and annexed all settlements north of the Piscataqua River as far as Casco Bay.
With the actions of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Maine became a district of the colony.
James Phinney Baxter published this map in 1884 showing various grants given for land around Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland. The area granted by Sir Ferdinando Gorges to Robert Trelawny is at the very top of the Cape Elizabeth peninsula.
In the 17th century, when the English began to colonize New England in earnest, they laid out the boundaries of territorial grants in the landscape.
Landowners, tenants, and local officials used survey maps to describe lot sizes and determine taxes or rents.
This is a survey of Parker's Island in the Kennebec River near Topsham.
It includes a drawing of a surveyor wearing an 18th-century coat and three-corner hat, and the surveyor's compass.
Colonists blazed trees with symbols, dug ditches, and built stone walls.
This map describes the boundaries of the town of Brunswick (named Scituate on the map) and includes sketches of buildings, roads, and carrying places.
As the patchwork of property grew more complicated and territorial disputes proliferated in the late 1600s, the English began to survey and map property boundaries.
James Jeffry included descriptions in his work to locate boundaries between Brunswick and Topsham. During the survey, he marked trees with the letter B to indicate a feature in Brunswick and T for features in Topsham.
Anyone with the requisite mathematical and writing skills could survey property boundaries.
This plan of Thomas Robinson's urban lot in Portland shows the various structures that were part of his estate, including a dwelling house, wharf, warehouse, distillery, and cooper's shop.
Ann Street later became Park Street.
The compass was a critical tool used by surveyors to define angles between points on land.
This compass belonged to Levi Bradley of Levant who was Land Agent of Maine from 1842-1847.
Surveyors measured the lengths of boundary lines in rods (16 feet) or chains (4 rods or 66 feet) and determined directions with compasses.
This chain is 33 feet long, or two rods in length. It is also called a half-Gunther chain. Edmund Gunther, an English astronomer, developed the Gunther's chain and associated tables for surveying.
A lot of land one chain by ten chains equaled an acre.
These surveying techniques, and the non-professional status of the surveyors, persisted well into the 19th century.
In the 19th century, property surveys became more elaborate and provided greater detail regarding land use and development. Increasingly, the town surveyor played a vital role in growing communities.
This map shows the buildings and land around Deering Oaks.
The 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War also defined the boundaries between the United States and British Canada.
During peace negotiations, diplomats from both countries used John Mitchell's map. It provided a graphic representation of British and French interests in North America.
The map did not show precisely the region along the border and it would take 60 more years to resolve boundary questions.
Negotiators using the Mitchell map did make two significant decisions -- they extended Maine's boundary eastward all the way to the St. Croix River and described the northern boundary running along a single range of hills that divided the land between the Atlantic Ocean and St. Lawrence River.
This map by Osgood Carleton, drawn in 1795, promoted the separation of Maine from Massachusetts and placed Maine's borders along the Magaguadavic River to the east and a non-existent range of hills to the north.
After the Revolution, maps began showing Maine as a politically distinct entity, even before it separated from Massachusetts in 1820.
This is the first of what would be many maps and other publications by Moses Greenleaf Jr. that served to promote settlement of the eastern and northern lands of Maine.
The boundary line described in the 1793 Treaty of Paris did not match the geography of the area and created many questions.
This map, created in 1613 by Samuel de Champlain, was copied about 1798-99 for the proceedings of the commissioners of the 4th article of the Treaty of Ghent to decide the boundary line between Maine and New Brunswick.
Questions included which of the three rivers emptying into Passamaquoddy Bay was actually the St. Croix.
The British said it was a branch of the Schoodiac and the Americans said the Magaguadavic, running more to the east.
Handwritten note in ink at top of map, "Mitchell's map--The dotted line shows the admitted division between England and France in 1755, and what was in 1783 the admitted line between Mass and Nova Scotia; also the recognised St. Croix, and, further, the line traced by the Commissioners on both sides, as the true line."
The British surveyor Joseph Bouchette drew this map with a series of lines to illustrate different interpretations of the boundary line in Passamaquoddy Bay.
Intense discussions resolved the location, and Grand Manan and Campobello Island became part of New Brunswick.
This Liverpool pitcher was given to John Thorlo who captained the packet Portland and carried Boundary diplomats between St. Andrews and Portland.
The pitcher was created in England at the Herculaneum Pottery. The pictures are Masonic transfer prints, handpainted.
The words below the ship are, "Succes to the Portland Packet, Capt. John Thorlo."
This map shows the work of British surveyors who explored the eastern boundary line that ran due north from the source of the St. Croix to Spruce tree -- 99 miles away.
The map includes notes regarding landscape features and camp locations.
When this map was published in 1795, Maine was a district of Massachusetts.
The shape of Maine was not defined and the boundary between British Canada and the United States was still uncertain.
Among the disputes was the location of the "height of land" between Maine and Quebec. The British thought it was farther south; Americans said farther north.
In 1814, surveyors and diplomats realized there was no one ridgeline and went to international arbitration to attempt to settle the dispute.
While diplomatic efforts to resolve the United States-British boundary stalled, settlers on the ground took matters into their own hands.
Painting by George H. Bailey of the Portland Light Infantry Muster, ca. 1803
In 1827, fueled by patriotic fervor, or a desire to avoid British taxes, John Baker of Madawaska claimed the area around the St. John River for the State of Maine.
His neighbors disagreed and the British jailed him briefly for conspiracy.
In February 1839, troops began to occupy positions along the Maine-New Brunswick border. After a series of heated diplomatic exchanges, the two sides achieved a temporary settlement in March 1839.
Troops continued to occupy the area, though, and build roads, blockhouses, and other defensive structures.
This Calais Frontier Guard banner was made by Charles Codman in 1839 and accompanied the Guard to the border dispute with Canada that was called the Aroostook War.
The banner is oil and gold leaf on silk and shows George Washington and his generals, flanked by four flags. On the reverse is the Maine State Seal.
This cap, worn by Izial Rendell of Saco, is typical of the types of caps worn by Maine's militia soldiers, including those who stood ready to defend the northern border of Maine in the so-called Aroostook War.
In 1840 and 1841, four different surveying teams traveled along the border region, making notes about the landscape, watershed, and mountain ranges.
This is one of the watercolor series that documents their observations.
The images were drawn using a camera lucida, an optical device that allowed the artist to make an accurate tracing of landscape features.
The Talcott survey, headed by Capt. Andrew Talcott, was sent out to map the northern boundary of Maine after hostilities broke out in 1839 between settlers in the Madawaska region around the St. John River.
Katahdin, bearing about south 30 degrees East and Sohuduahunk, bearing about South 20 degrees East-as seen from the Eastern shore of Lake Chamberlain.
Co-cum-go-muc-sis Lake bearing from S. 15 degrees E to South 30 degrees E.- and in the distance Katahdin bearing about S 35 degrees E.-and Spencer Mount S. 5 Degrees W.- the small Lake on right is on the stream connecting Horn Pond with Cocumgomucsis Lake.
Co-cum-go-muc Mountains- Bearing from about N 10 degrees W. to North as seen from the Southern end of Co-cum-go-muc-sis Lake, near its outlet into Coo-cum-go-muc Lake (Penobscot waters)
View from Station 212, Talcott survey, 1841.
The Talcott survey, headed by Capt. Andrew Talcott, produced this series of watercolors to document its findings.
The Aroostook War -- a war that was never fought -- brought the two sides in the northern border dispute back to the table to try to define the boundary.
"Fort Kent December 1842" is the title of this cartoon that shows the blockhouse at Fort Kent, and the field, forest and riders nearby.
Fort Kent was the last wooden blockhouse built in Maine. It was erected to protect against the Canadians/British during the Aroostook War.
This is the other half of the preceding cartoon - showing Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton shaking hands after the Webster-Ashburton agreement on the Northeast boundary lines of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.
Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British diplomat Lord Ashburton were the chief negotiators. They reached a compromise in 1842.
Many people in Maine were disappointed with Webster, thinking he had compromised the interest of Maine and the nation.
This map shows the different lines originally claimed by the United States and Britain and the final location of the border.
Major James Graham, who led the American survey team in 1840, gave this map to Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The United States and Canada formed a permanent international commission in 1925 to maintain their mutual boundary.
Each year crews survey and install boundary markers, can clear the 20-foot wide vista along the 5,525-mile boundary from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This map serves as an index for the 16 different maps that officially document the border from the Atlantic to the source of the St. Croix.
The existence of the International Boundary Commission has not prevented disputes over Maine's borders.
In the 1970s, the U.S. and Canada went to court over fishing grounds.
Sheet No. 1 of 18 maps that relate to the Index Map. This map shows the two watercourses that are considered the source of the St. Croix River, Monument and Glendenning Brooks.
Map #14 shows the southerly end of the St. Croix River with the historic Dochet (now St. Croix) Island.
Disagreements over property ownership, the use of natural resources, rights of taxation, and regional identity are once again fueling debate and controversy.
The contentious process of determining the shape of Maine continues.