Ptolemy, Cosmographia, 1482.

Our Personal travels reveal the basic human pleasure, and right, of being able to move about freely, or to imagine doing so. A child’s puzzle map encouraged virtual movement through play, while a fifteenth-century colored map based on Ptolemy’s calculations fired Europeans’ imaginations for travel and exploration. A young single woman’s visit to the World’s Fair in Chicago held a particular flavor of adventure, while Thomas Jefferson’s employee, charged with purchasing specific novel inventions along his European route, contained its own challenges.


Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographia is the oldest surviving work to explain the technique of map projection—how the spherical surface of the Earth can be represented on a two-dimensional surface. This elegant edition was the first to be published outside of Italy and the first to use woodcut maps. [Essay 79]

Nicolaus Germanus
World Map in Claudius Ptolemy, Cosmographia [Geographia]
Ulm, Germany: Lienhart Hol, 1482
Gift of Edward E. Ayer, 1911
VAULT Ayer 6 .P9 1482a

<em>Americae sive Novi Orbis nova descriptio,</em> in<em> Theatro de la tierra vniuersal</em>
Abraham Ortelius, Americae sive Novi Orbis nova descriptio, 1588.

First published in 1570, the Theatrum orbis terrarium is usually considered the first modern world atlas. This edition was created for the Spanish market. [Essay 81]

Abraham Ortelius
Americae sive Novi Orbis nova descriptio
, in Teatro de la tierra universal [A new description of America, or the New World, in Theater of the whole world]
Antwerp: Christoph Plantin, 1588
Ayer Fund, 1920
Ayer 135 .O7 1588

Memorandums for Mr. Short
Thomas Jefferson, Memorandums for Mr. Short, September 16, 1788.

William Short worked as Thomas Jefferson’s private secretary while he was the United States’ minister to France. Here, Jefferson asks him to purchase several items, from particular wines to a fresh pasta mold, which Jefferson illustrated. [Essay 6]

Thomas Jefferson
Memorandums for Mr. Short
Paris, c. September 16, 1788
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Goldstein, 1986
Vault Mi

Norfolk Puzzle Box
John Cary, Norfolk Puzzle Box, 1793.

Cartographic jigsaw puzzles—originally called “dissected maps”—were probably the most popular didactic map toys in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Newberry has a wide range of geographic juvenilia, of which this is an example. [Essay 88]

Norfolk Puzzle Box
Map: London: J. Cary, 1793
Puzzle and box: London: William Darton, Jr., 1804/1812
Holzheimer Fund, 2006
VAULT Case G5753.N4 1793 .C37

Letter from the Woman&#039;s Dormitory at the World&#039;s Columbian Exposition
Jane Elliott Sever, Letter from the Woman's Dormitory ..., July 26, 1893.

Sixteen-year-old Jane Elliott Sever traveled from Massachusetts to visit the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, staying with friends in the 600-room Women’s Dormitory at Ellis Avenue and 53rd Street. Her letter is part of a large Newberry assemblage of diaries, correspondence, ephemera, and other fair-related materials. [Essay 34]

Jane Elliott Sever
Letter from the Woman’s Dormitory at the World’s Columbian Exposition
Chicago, 1893
Gift of Noel S. O’Reilly, 1989
Midwest MS 4