Frenchman's Map

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The Frenchman's Map is a map of Williamsburg dated May 11, 1782. It was drafted by an unknown Frenchman probably stationed with Rochambeau's army. Its marvelous detail suggests perhaps a billeting map for the French army following the Battle of Yorktown. It has been called the "Bible of the Restoration of Williamsburg" because of the detail it gives of the original buildings. It has also been used to illustrate town planning in eighteenth-century America.[1]

The map was given to the College of William and Mary in 1909 by John D. Crimmins. When a descendant of Mr. Crimmins visited the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library, where the map is held, he explained that his grandfather worked for or owned a firm which did underground excavation in New York City. His firm built the railroad tracks under Park Avenue. Crimmins often bought old New York maps so that his firm could determine where and where not to dig. He purchased a group of maps in Norfolk and upon return to New York, found the Williamsburg map tucked into the bound volume. Because it was not a New York map and because of a Custis Family connection, the map was presented to the College of William and Mary. (See memo in Special Collections Research Center dated 24 February 2000)

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Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.