Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
The Cushing Memorial Library and Archives houses the rare books, special collections, manuscripts and archival records of Texas A&M University.
In 2018, thanks to the generosity of several donors, the library was enriched with a rare first edition of Stephen F. Austin's Map of Texas. The map, produced in 1830, is only one of eight still in existence.
The first map of Texas to be printed in the United States and published in eight editions until 1845, it represents one of the most important historical maps of the American West. It is often referred to as ‘the Birth Certificate of Texas’.
Created as an attachment to a land grant agreement with the Mexican government, in the intent of the author – the first true Texan impresario – the map also served to attract new settlers to the region. As such, it needed to be as open and inviting as possible.
The map’s remarkable level of detail was the culmination of more than five years’ work. Austin hired a team of surveyors to travel throughout Texas, tasked with accurately recording and depicting the hydrography of its vast territory. They also illustrated the first Texan settlements, demarking fledgling colonies such as Brazoria, Harrisburg and Waco Village.Today, after a period of temporary exhibition on the second floor of the library building, the map has found its definitive location in a free-standing display case specially designed and created by Goppion.
In order to guarantee the correct preservation of the delicate artifact, in line with strict American conservation standards, the showcase is fitted with a passive humidity control system and a filter for air purification. Active sensors for temperature control also ensure the airtight display case environment is regulated, maintaining optimum conditions for protecting this important piece of American history. Carefully selected construction materials also ensure there will be no off-gassing or emissions of chemicals that could harm the map.But as well as protecting Austin’s map, the display case also needs to show it off. For this, Goppion used tough, extra-clear, non-reflective glass that excludes UV light. LED lighting apparatus also helps to reveal detail. Now all visitors and researchers to Cushing can see and appreciate this prized example of the cartographer’s art, as they gaze back in time to the birth of the Lone Star state.