Selections from Special Collections


Louis Hennepin



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[24], 243, [33], 228 p., [9] leaves of plates (8 folded) : ill., maps ; 20 cm. (8vo).

Some of the pages in this document were selected as part of a class project for Professor Garth Bond’s History of the Book seminar, Spring 2009. The abstract was prepared by Kyle Brennan.

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Printed for M. Bentley, J. Tonson, H. Bonwick, T. Goodwin, and S. Manship




The map of North America from A New Discovery of a Large Country in America is a good representation of European attitudes towards this new continent in the early years of its exploration. Note some of the many errors on this map: The Great Lakes are too large and too far to the south, Florida is too wide across, New England is too small, and the whole continent seems a little crunched north to south. Also note the placement of the Mississippi River. However, the outline of the Great Lakes, as well as the entire eastern seaboard of the continent, is remarkably accurate. Like the Nuremberg Chronicle, we must understand these characteristics not as errors or otherwise, but as utilitarian tools of the time: Users of a map like this knew these coastlines well and had neither the means nor the immediate motivations for exploring and charting the interior of the continent. This map not only represents a historical example of the exploration and development of the United States, but it also symbolizes an example of progressive development in mapmaking.


This work is in the public domain under United States Copyright Law. If you use any part of this work please include Lawrence University Special Collections in your citation.

Selected pages from A new discovery of a vast country in America : extending above four thousand miles, between New France and New Mexico : with a description of the Great Lakes, cataracts, rivers, plants, and animals : also, the manners, customs, and languages of the several native Indians, and the advantage of commerce with those different nations : with a continuation, giving an account