"Torn in Two - Mapping the Civil War"
with Ronald Grim, Curator of Maps for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 7 p.m.
at the Chelmsford Public Library


The Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, is the centerpiece of our nation’s story. It looms large, not merely because of its brutality and scope but because of its place in the course of American history. The seeds of war were planted long before 1861 and the conflict remains part of our national memory.

The sesquicentennial gives us the opportunity to commemorate this period in our nation’s history and to showcase the Boston Public Library’s extraordinary special collections. Through the lens of fifty historic maps and scores of rare materials including Matthew Brady’s iconic photographs; paintings and prints by acclaimed artist Winslow Homer; Currier & Ives political cartoons; and historic documents, Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War explores the causes of the war, the battles and the process by which the war is remembered.

Geography has shaped each part of this narrative. The physical landscape influenced economic differences between the regions, the desire to expand into new territories and the destiny of these areas, the execution of the conflict both in the field and on the home front, and the ways in which our recollections have been shaped.

Maps enable us to present the complex strands that, when woven together, provide a detailed account of the causes and conduct of the war. These visual images remain a salient aspect of our memory. The photographs, prints, diaries, songs and letters from the richness of the Library’s many holdings enhance our ability to tell this story, when our nation, as a Currier & Ives cartoon depicts, was about to be “Torn in Two.”


Ronald Grim was appointed Curator of Maps for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library in January 2005. He assumed this position after working 33 years for the Federal government with the nation’s two largest map collections at the National Archives and the Library of Congress.

He has curated five Library of Congress exhibitions, including the travelling exhibit “Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America” (July-November 2003). At the Boston Public Library, he has curated three exhibits, “Journeys of the Imagination,” “Boston and Beyond: A Bird’s Eye View of New England,” and “Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.”

He has published widely, especially on topics related to the historical geography of colonial Virginia and the history of North American cartography emphasizing the exploration and mapping of the western United States, large-scale land ownership mapping, and the place naming process. In addition, he has been a part-time instructor teaching courses on the historical geography of North America and maps as sources at George Washington University and the University of Maryland, College Park. While at the Library of Congress, he served as the Library’s Member and was a past Chair of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. He is also Book Review Editor of Imago Mundi, the international journal for the history of cartography; a member of the Board of Review for the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine, Portland; and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Geoscapes: Journal of Map and Geography Libraries.

Learn more about this exhibit at the exhibit's website: http://tornintwo.org/


This is a ONE BOOK Chelmsford program funded by the Chelmsford Friends of the Librar