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The Maps That Tell America's History Come To NSU

There are plenty of ways to learn more about early American history: books, movies, podcasts. And for those that love maps,  Nova Southeastern University’s main library has a treasure trove of old maps telling hundreds of years’ worth of history.

 

NSU’s part public and part private Alvin Sherman Library is a partnership with Broward County. Open to the public, there’s toddler programming that takes place on the first floor while Ph.D. students work quietly on the fourth. 

However, on the second floor, there’s a gallery where more than 150 maps cover the walls right now. The first one is from 1472. By the time you see the exhibit and get to the other side, it’s 1823. 

Collector Neal Asbury is the man behind the maps. He’s passionate about how many of the maps in this particular exhibit were drawn, engraved on copper and sent to British King George III during the American Revolution.

 

“These are the documents coming from that same copper plate that was handed to the king as he was hearing about what happened in New York, what happened in the Delaware and, eventually, what happened at Yorktown,” Asbury said.

All of the maps are original and part of Asbury’s private collection. He started it 15 years ago when, after reading a book about the discovery of America, he found the map from the book online. 

Asbury loaned his collection NSU to tell stories about how America was founded. He said he chose NSU over other institutions because of its desire to connect the public to the maps' stories.

"Nova, more than most, is willing to engage with the community," Asbury said.

Jim Hutchens, NSU’s librarian and vice president of information services, said the size and expanse of this map exhibit are new for the university. 

“I was awed,” Hutchens said. “I’ve seen every exhibit in this gallery since we opened it up, and this is clearly the most extensive exhibit we’ve ever had.”

The exhibit will culminate with a history presentation and discussion led by Asbury at NSU at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24. The maps are on loan to NSU and the exhibit will stay open to the public until Feb. 1.