Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Wine Hills of New Hampshire

Title page of Hubbard's "Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians"
This week, Rauner Special Collections Library's reading room is abuzz with independent student explorations of numerous and various maps of the American continent from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Tasked by Professor Paul Musselwhite to identify a location of interest and then track how its representation changes over time, the Dartmouth students have been poring over musty old tomes in the hopes of finding a small portion of the world that captures their interest enough to write a paper about it. Some of these students have even ventured beyond the cart of curated materials and have requested books that extend their knowledge of the Americas beyond what was shown to them in an earlier class session here in Special Collections.

One such book is William Hubbard's Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians. Printed in 1677, this handsome little volume is the locus for a puzzling map mystery that has
confounded scholars for centuries. Little did the student know when she requested it that she would open a can of cartographic worms. Hubbard's book was printed in New England and in London, and each edition contains a map of New England. Here is where the trouble begins, for the American map is the first known to have been published of the English colonies of North America, and lists the "White Hills" of New Hampshire, now known to us as the White Mountains. However, the English map, while very similar, refers instead to the "Wine Hills." While perhaps a supernatural premonition of the sorts of activities that have happened far too often on campus, this designation is an obvious factual error. The enigma for map scholars, however, is whether or not these two maps were made by the same engraver and which of them was made first.

To see one of the earliest perspectives of New England, come to Special Collections and ask to peruse McGregor 79.

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