Collections › MESDA Collection › A Map of the State of Kentucky, from Actual Survey…

A Map of the State of Kentucky, from Actual Survey…

Barker, Elihu __Cartographer ||Imlay, Gilbert __author ||Conder, T. __Engraver ||Debrett, J. __Publisher
Place Made:
London Great Britain
Date Made:
ink on paper
HOA: 14; WOA: 29 1/2 (sight)
Accession Number:
Following the American Revolution Virginia’s western lands filled rapidly. The settlement culminated in the creation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1792. This map of Kentucky is a slight reduction in size from Elihu Barker’s original published by Mathew Carey in 1793, but not as great a reduction as the edition of the map that appeared in Carey’s American Atlas and General Atlas in 1795.

This map was bound into Gilbert Imlay’s A Topographical Description of the Western Territory. Imlay was an American businessman, author, and diplomat and was known in his day as a shrewd but unscrupulous businessman involved in land speculation in Kentucky. He later served in the U.S. embassy to France. He was also an author, producing both the influential A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America, and a novel, The Emigrants, both of which promoted settlement in the North American interior.

CARTOGRAPHER: Of the cartographer, Elihu Barker, frustratingly little information is available. He died in Philadelphia before his manuscript map was published. A January 1793 advertisement for the manuscript stated “Almost the whole taken from actual Survey, and accurately laid down by Mr. Elihu Barker, late of the State of Kentucky, deceased.” Barker’s map was far more accurate than Filson’s 1784 Kentucky map. In reference to Barker’s map, Jilllson stated in 1923, “It is so well done that it could be used today with satisfaction…” There are no surviving documents relating to the “actual Survey.”

RELATED OBJECTS: The Thomas A. Gray Rare Book and Manuscript Collection contains a copy of Gilbert Imlay’s A Topographical Description… that retains its original maps. (TAG 336)

REFERENCES: David Rumsey Collection:
Wheat and Brun, Maps and Charts Published Before 1800: A Bibliography, 641, 642
Willard Rouse Jillson, “Elihu Barker Map of Kentucky”, in Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 21, No. 63 (September, 1923), pp. 322-323.

Published in London in Gilbert Imlay’s 1797 A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America…
Credit Line:
Douglas Battery Purchase Fund