Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Mapping The National Parks

[Detail] The Grand Canyon. Clarence E. Dutton, 1882.

3) Early European Settlers

When Europeans first arrived between 1492 and the mid-1700s in what is now North America, they created maps of their new discovery. These maps were brought back to their homeland to report on what they found and to assist followers in navigating the routes to their discoveries.

Have students retrieve examples of these maps by searching on the keyword phrase early works to 1800. Many of the maps highlight coastal features. What does this suggest about the extent and methods of exploration? What else do these maps reveal about exploration?

Have students identify what resources are highlighted on the maps. Some maps include creative interpretations of unexplored territories. Students can look for examples of this uncertainty in the inaccurate size and shapes of continents and bodies of water. Students can also see what boundaries are shown.

  • Do these boundaries look similar to those on today's maps of the United States?
  • What can one learn from these boundaries about who controlled the land in North America at the time of the maps' creation?

For additional maps of European settlement , students can browse the Title Index of the Discovery and Exploration section of Map Collections, 1500-2004.