PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records

 

 

 



Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Bureau of Archives and History
Pennsylvania State Archives


RG-17
Records of the Land Office
MELISH-WHITESIDE MAPS, 1816-1821. {series #17.534}

*Images of Each Map*


Based upon actual county surveys, the Melish-Whiteside maps were the first official set of county maps produced for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Township lines, municipality names, and roads and distances are examples of the details present on each survey. In addition, structures such as post offices, factories, mills, mines, furnaces, forges, houses, churches, academies, and taverns are noted, as are the names of property owners for certain taverns, dwellings, furnaces, and mills.

The maps were the result of the work of John Melish, a geographer, traveler, and entrepeneur who convinced the Pennsylvania legislature to fund this ambitious cartographic project. Under enabling legislation passed on March 19, 1816, a number of deputy surveyors spread out across the Commonwealth. Over the ensuing years, these surveyors would produce maps for each county, which could then be assembled into a full and accurate map of the state. The deputy surveyors handed over their completed maps to the surveyor general, who in turn sent the maps to Melish for copying and engraving. But before these maps were delivered, a clerk made an office copy of the original. The first clerk to execute these copies was named John Whiteside, and since his signature appears on these versions, they have become known as the “Whiteside Maps” (several copies were also rendered by a Dan Small). Melish submitted his completed Pennsylvania map to the legislature in March 1822, which overwhelmingly approved his work, claiming the map was “an exquisite specimen of graphic skill,” and well worth the $29,276.75 spent on the project.

The maps, as stated above, provide the researcher with a wealth of information on early settlements, industries, transportation networks, and dwellings. These are some of the earliest Pennsylvania county maps in existence, and in addition to their utility, have been very accurately and attractively rendered.

Please note: The map listed below for Dauphin and Lebanon Counties is actually housed in Manuscript Group 11, but has been included here because it is part of the group of maps created by Melish through the March 19, 1816 legislation. It is NOT a part of Record Group 17.

For easier navigation and zooming/reducing once a map has been opened, follow these instructions:

Digital copies of the Melish-Whitesides are available for all maps, and incur a $5.00 per map charge, plus a $10.00 per-order set-up fee. Each order may also be subject to use fees. Patrons will receive a locked PDF version of the file (no image manipulation or printing allowed) unless the use fees form has been completed, in which case either an unlocked PDF, JPEG, or TIFF file will be provided. To access the form, follow the preceeding “use fees” link.

For digital file delivery, electronic files under 10mb in size can be emailed directly to patrons free of charge. Files greater than 10mb in size may be either shipped on a compact disc (with a shipping/handling fee based on the total cost of the order included) or placed an a specified FTP site. All mail orders must be paid by check ONLY, with the check made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and sent to:

Pennsylvania State Archives
350 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090

Please call (717) 783-3281 with any questions or to place a map order.

Lycoming County Melish-Whiteside Map


MELISH-WHITESIDE COUNTY MAPS



PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records