Changing Planet

Mapping Our Nation’s Ascendancy

This year marks the beginning of the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial. Just six months after commemorations began, sales of National Geographic’s Battles of the Civil War map have increased exponentially. It appears this key period of our nation’s history remains in the hearts and minds of many of our citizens. I was well reminded of this at this year’s 68th Annual Waterford Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit.

Waterford (39° 11′ 12″ N,  77° 36′ 36″ W)—founded around 1733 and the oldest settlement in Loudoun County, Virginia—is home to some 1,100 inhabitants. Each year this village invites the public to step back to the 18th and 19th centuries through craft demonstrators, period reenactors, and historic home tours. It also houses the headquarters of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, who recently collaborated with National Geographic Maps to produce the double-sided Journey Through Hallowed Ground–Battles of the Civil War map.

It was here, during the map’s signing ceremony, that I met visitors from as far afield as England and Thailand. Some questioned the significance of such a map. Many understood at a glance. Others needed to know more. In such cases, I recommended that they tour the village and study its sense of place, visit the craft demonstrators, and most importantly, talk to the Civil War reenactors. Those that returned took another hard look at the map.

They now understood its significance—a cartographic portrayal of our nation’s ascendancy from pre-revolutionary times to reunification.


Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps

Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and National Geographic Maps' Director of Editorial and Research. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As NG Map's Director of Editorial and Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products.

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