PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records




Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Pennsylvania State Archives

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:

Lycoming County Melish-Whiteside Map


Legend of Map Symbols

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records