Earlier this month Voice of America had a short, introductory piece on Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world. Because it’s the first time the word “America” appears on a map, it’s become known as “America’s birth certificate.” It’s for that reason that the Library of Congress spent $10 million to acquire the last known copy of the map. The story of the map, however, is much more interesting than that: it’s an amalgam of classical knowledge with more recent discoveries, a curious document that tries to bridge two different ways of thinking about the world. [WMS]
Several books about the map have been published. I haven’t yet seen The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio by John W. Hessler (Giles, 2008) or Putting “America” on the Map by Seymour I. Schwartz (Prometheus, 2007), but I have read and reviewed The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester (Free Press, 2009), which wraps the map in considerable historical context (buy the book at Amazon or iBooks).