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Theodor de Bry, Americae Pars, Nunc Virginia Dicta (That Part of America, Now Called Virginia) Map, 1590


This map, one of several created by engraver Theodor de Bry, depicts the coastal region from Cape Fear (North Carolina) to the Chesapeake Bay. The map includes the names and locations of Indian settlements and was oriented so that west was at the top of the compass rose as opposed to north. This was done in order to show how the land would appear to people approaching Virginia from western Europe.

The map is based on watercolors and maps by John White, a settler who was part of the failed Roanoke Colony. His granddaughter Virginia Dare was the first child born in the New World to English parents. Dare, her parents, and several other settlers were left behind at the Roanoke Colony while White traveled back to England soon after she was born. White had intended to return swiftly but was forced to remain in England for the next few years because of England’s war with Spain.

When he returned to the colony in 1590, however, White discovered that everyone in the Roanoke Colony had disappeared. He found nothing to suggest that the colonists had been the victims of violence and the only evidence of their intended destination was the word “Croatoan,” which was carved into a wooden post. The fate of the colonists has never been concretely determined and it is commonly believed that the colonists sought shelter with a nearby American Indian tribe.

Citation: Bry, Theodor de (1528–1598). Americae pars, nunc Virginia dicta : primum ab Anglis inuenta, sumtibus Dn. Walteri Raleigh, Equestris ordinis Viri, Anno Dn̄i. MDLXXXV regni Vero Sereniss. nostrae Reginae Elisabethae XXVII, hujus vero Historia peculiari Libro descripta est, additis etiam Indigenarum Iconibus / autore Ioanne With ; sculptore Theodoro de Brÿ, qui et. excud. G3880 1590 .W4 Voorhees collection. Library of Virginia.


VS.1, VS.2a, VS.2c, VS.3, VS.4, USI.1, USI.2d, USI.3, USI.4, CE.1, WG.1, WG.3,W.17, WHII.1, WHII.2, WHII.4, WHII.5, WHII.6, WHII.7, VUS.1, VUS.2, VUS.3

Suggested Questions

Analyze: Compare this 1590 map to a contemporary one of the same area.  As far as you can determine, to what extent is the 1590 map accurate?  Be specific.
In Their Shoes: Write a short story from the viewpoint of either John White or Virginia Dare. As White, detail what it must have been like to return home and find everyone missing. As Dare, write about what you believe happened to the colony.


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