Michigan State University

1849 map on display in Main Library through October


After an 18-month visit to the Etherington Conservation Lab, our 1849 map of the United States and Mexico is back and up for viewing.

A library exhibit "The California Gold Rush" depicts numerous resources available through MSU libraries that document the Gold Rush and participation by Michigan residents. From the September 1848 New York Herald article to recent scholarly books, many library resources are now purchased and delivered to library users over the Internet. MSU Libraries also owns numerous published diaries and biographies of western travellers in book format, as journal articles, and on microform.

Several maps are on display from the Map Library, including the 1849 "New map of the United States and Mexico" published By Monk and Sherer in Cincinnati. This map measures 36 inches by 45 inches and was one of the few to show the full western lands in good detail. The map was a gift to MSU Libraries from Charles Elliot and has received extensive conservation work.

The California Gold Rush is a fascinating case study in early American communication, travel, and society. This exhibit illustrates how excitement built as wild rumors leaked out of California throughout 1848, but weren't fully believed by many in the East until President Polk's address to Congress in December. All that long winter, until spring allowed travel, people talked of going west. Demand was high for maps that showed travel routes through the western lands. Many Michigan residents travelled west during the Gold Rush years.

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