Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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MY COUNTY TIS OF THEE: COUNTIES OF VIRGINIA

Introduction:

How can we use historical maps to identify Virginia's counties and learn the political geography of Virginia?

Lesson Images

New Accurate map of Virginia, 1770

Henry, John, (1704 or 1705–1773). A New and Accurate Map of Virginia Wherein Most of the Counties Are Laid Down from Actual Surveys: With a Concise Account of the Number of Inhabitants, the Trade, Soil, and Produce of that Province 1770. G3880 1770 .H4 Voorhees Collection. Library of Virginia. (High Res)

Map of Virginia, 1807

Madison, James, (1749–1812). A Map of Virginia: Formed from Actual Surveys, and the Latest as well as the Most Accurate Observations, 1807. G3880 1807 .M3. Archives Research Services, Map Collection, Library of Virginia. (High Res)

Boye map, 1825

Bőÿe, Herman. A Map of the State of Virginia, Constructed in Conformity to Law from the Late Surveys Authorized by the Legislature and Other Original and Authentic Documents / by Herman Bőÿe, 1825; Corrected by Order of the Executive, 1859 by L. v. Buchholtz. G3880 1859 .B63. Board of Public Wo (High Res)

Incorporated Cities Map

Incorporated Cities of Virginia 2000, Library of Virginia. (High Res)

Standards Of Learning

1.4, 1.5, 2.5, 3.6, K.5, USI.1, USI.2, VS.1, VUS.1, WG.1, WHI.1, WHII.1

Historical Information:

This Lesson Plan was created by Penny Anderson, a teacher at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg and one of the Library of Virginia's 2010 Brown Research Teacher Fellows.

Since the time that Virginia was a colony of England, the county has been the basic unit of local government. A 1634 document made the first mention of the existence of eight counties, or shires: Accomack, Charles City, Charles River, Elizabeth City, Henrico, James City, Warrosquyoake, and Warwick River. Over the course of Virginia's history, the General Assembly has created an additional 158 counties, 59 during the colonial period and the remaining 99 after 1776. The last county formed in Virginia was Dickenson in 1880. Now there are 95 counties and 40 independent cities in Virginia. Sixty-one other former Virginia counties are now in the states of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

In this lesson, four maps are used to show varying geographic information about Virginia, from 1770 to the present. Students compare the changing shape of the state over time as well as the absolute and relative location of Virginia counties.

Vocabulary Words:

• absolute location—the actual location of a point on the earth's surface, usually in terms of latitude and longitude coordinates or a physical address of a place

• cardinal directions—the directions of north, east, south, and west

• compass rose—a symbol that shows orientation on a map

• map—a drawing that shows what places look like from above and where they are located

• map legend—a list of shapes and symbols used on a map and an explanation of what each one represents

• map scale—a map tool used to measure distance between locations

• relative location—a concept described by using terms that show connections between two places, such as next to, near, or bordering

• symbol—a picture or thing that represents something else

Lesson Activities

MAP ANALYSIS

• On a projection screen, view the Henry map. Have students discuss their observations and the following questions:

♦ What was the date of this map?

♦ Why does it show only the eastern counties of Virginia?

♦ What recognizable features are shown?

♦ What bodies of water are named?

♦ What is the title of the map?

♦ What is the scale?

♦ What other colonies are shown?

♦ What cities are shown?

♦ Is your county shown? Why or why not? Does it look the same as it does today? Why or why not?

♦ Locate the following places or features on the map: Jamestown, Williamsburg, Richmond, Atlantic Ocean, Potomac River, York River, James River, and Appalachian Mountains.

• On a projection screen, view the Madison map. Have students discuss their observations and the following questions:

♦ What was the date of this map?

♦ Why does it show what appears to be Virginia and West Virginia?

♦ What recognizable features are shown?

♦ What bodies of water are named?

♦ What is the title of the map?

♦ What is the scale?

♦ Which states surround Virginia?

♦ What cities are shown?

♦ Locate your county on the map. Does it look the same as it does today? Why or why not?

♦ Look at the landscape drawing of Richmond (upper right corner). How does James Madison portray Richmond? What features (buildings, transportation, etc.) do you see? What do you think the word “metropolis” means? Why would he call it the “metropolis of Virginia”?

♦ Locate the following places or features on the map: Jamestown, Williamsburg, Richmond, Atlantic Ocean, Potomac River, York River, James River, and Appalachian Mountains.

COMPARE/CONTRAST

• On a projection screen or in small groups, view the Henry and/or Madison map and compare them to a modern wall map of Virginia. Compare the shape of the colony or early state to the current shape of the state. Locate your county on all the maps. Discuss the reasons for change (exploration, colonization, expansion, Civil War, economic changes, population changes, etc.) Use a Venn diagram or other graphic organizer to help organize students' responses.

MAP CONSTRUCTION

• Draw an outline map of your county from memory. Depict any distinguishing features. Use symbols to locate your neighborhood, your school, and other major points of interest. List the symbols in the map legend. Include a compass rose for orientation. Put a directional arrow to show where Richmond is in relation to your county.

LESSON EXTENSION

• This extension requires Internet access and computers (laptops, computer lab, or single class computer). Using the sites recommended below, have students find specific demographics for any Virginia county. Use the template below as a note sheet. Or have groups of students (teams, centers, etc.) research Virginia's different counties, and share their findings with the class members.

♦ E-Reference Desk Online Reference Source: www.e-referencedesk.com/resources/counties/virginia/

♦ National Association of Counties: www.naco.org (click “About Counties” and then “Find a County”)

• Note: Teachers in independent cities or joint school districts may readjust the note sheet accordingly or assign different counties.

Lesson Handouts

Extension Activity Handout PDF Handout (32 KB) Word Document Handout (119 KB)

Henry Map. Panels to print PDF Handout (2 MB)

Madison Map. Panels to print PDF Handout (3 MB)

Bőÿe Map. Panels to print PDF Handout (1 MB)

Suggested Materials

Salmon, Emily J. and Edward D. C. Campbell (eds.) The Hornbook of Virginia History: A Ready-Reference Guide to the Old Dominion's People, Places, and Past. Richmond, Va.: Library of Virginia, 1994.

Related Links

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