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“Mapping Colonial Virginia: The Fry Jefferson Map of 1775” To Be Discussed

Washington and Lee University will present several short lectures on March 22 from 5-6:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. It is sponsored by University Collections of Art and History (UCAH).

The title of the program, which is free and open to the public, is “Mapping Colonial Virginia: The Fry Jefferson Map of 1775.” It will examine the importance of the celebrated Fry Jefferson Map of Virginia as an invaluable resource for the study of Colonial America.

The speakers include:

  • Henry Taliaferro, partner, Cohen & Taliaferro LLC, Dealers in fine antique maps, atlases, globes and voyage books, will speak on “Fry and Jefferson Revisited”
  • Margaret Beck Pritchard, senior curator and curator of prints, maps and wallpaper for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, will speak on “To Educate and Adorn: The Decorative Aspects of Fry and Jefferson’s Map of Virginia”
  • Willie Balderson, manager of public programs, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, will speak on “Surveying in the 18th Century: Techniques and Tools.”

The Fry Jefferson Map of Virginia was originally drawn in 1751 by Joshua Fry, a mathematician from the College of William and Mary, and surveyor Peter Jefferson. His son, Thomas Jefferson, called it the “First accurate map of Virginia which had ever been made.”

In this program, Taliaferro and Pritchard, experts in maps, prints and public history will discuss the importance of the Fry Jefferson Map as historical document and evidence of material culture. Balderson also will describe the techniques and tools of surveying during the colonial period.

Taliaferro is a dealer in rare maps and has worked for 45 years in the business. He has helped to develop some of the most important private and institutional collections in the U.S. He has lectured extensively and published an article on the Fry and Jefferson map in the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. He is co-author (with Margaret Pritchard) of “Degrees of Latitude” (2002); author of “Cartographic Resources” (1987); and co-editor of “American Cities” (2005). He has also published articles on historical cartography and Southern genealogy.

In her role as senior curator for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Pritchard acquires new objects for the collections and conducts research in the area of her specialty. She selects appropriate prints, maps and wallpaper to hang on the walls of buildings in the historic district and curates exhibitions for the art museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

She has lectured and published on subjects relating to the collection for which she is responsible. Her most recent publication was a comprehensive catalog of the map collection at Colonial Williamsburg, “Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America.” In 1978, she received a fellowship at Colonial Williamsburg to assist with the refurnishing of the Governor’s Palace.

Pritchard also serves on the board of trustees of Old Salem Museums and Gardens, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts Advisory Board and the Board of Governors for the Decorative Arts Trust, and chairs the board of the Williamsburg Community Foundation.

Before joining Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, Balderson was manager of public history development for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he worked since 1997. There, he helped to create the Revolutionary City living history program and coordinated programs in the historic area.

One of the founders of the Richmond-based Living History Associates, he is nationally known for his first-person portrayals that span two centuries in time. As an actor, he is known for his roles in “Emissaries of Peace” (2007), “Flames of Freedom” (2001) and “Enslaved” (1999). Exhaustive research and preparation distinguishes Balderson’s work, and his repertoire includes knowledge of 18th-century surveying techniques and equipment.

This lecture is presented in honor of retiring president W&L Ken Ruscio and recognizes a recent gift from Peter Agelasto, a 1962 W&L alumnus. The map was given “in recognition of and appreciation for the leadership of the men who have occupied the office of president of the university and to the memory of George Washington who surveyed property in Augusta County in 1749 at age 17.”