News Of History


What is believed to be part of an original manuscript copy of the historic Mason-Dixon surveys has been presented to the Princeton University Library. There is no other known segment of the original manuscript.

The surveys were made between 1763 and 1767 by two British astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and ended a long boundary dispute between the Baltimores and the Penns, proprietors of pre-Revolutionary Maryland and Pennsylvania. The term “Mason and Dixon Line” was used to designate the boundary between the free and slave states in the North-South dispute leading to the Civil War.

The gift to the Princeton Library actually is a complete map of the surveys made up of two large sections. The complete map was thought at first to be one of three surviving engraved copies of the Mason-Dixon surveys. A long study by experts, however, has revealed that, while the western section is an engraved copy, the other section is evidently an original manuscript of the eastern boundary. The two sheets were acquired in 1864 by the father of John H. Doran of Kingston, Pennsylvania, and their previous history is not known. Mr. and Mrs. Doran have given the survey to Princeton in memory of their son, Joseph I. Doran, Princeton, ’35.

Relics found last summer in the Canadian Arctic show that human society flourished there for at least 2,000 years before the coming of the Thule Eskimos about 1,000 years ago. The relics were of the prehistoric Dorset people and were found at Alarnerk, on the Melville Peninsula, by an expedition sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the National Museum of Denmark, and the Arctic Institute of North America.

The evidence gathered by the expedition, officials at the University of Pennsylvania Museum report, has added millennia to the known history of the Canadian Arctic. The Dorset people, it was pointed out, had been regarded as a short-lived, transient culture overshadowed by the Thule.

Members of the expedition found and mapped a 3,000-year-old Dorset village of 208 houses at Alarnerk. At other sites in the area, which is north of Hudson Bay and about 300 miles above the Arctic Circle, the party discovered evidence of more than 150 additional Dorset houses and uncovered relics of an even older culture, the Sarqaq.

While the houses of the Dorset people were gone, rectangular depressions marked their sites in terraced rows stretching for about a mile along the shore of the northern Foxe Basin. There were stone remnants of open, indoor fireplaces and from the floors the expedition dug thousands of animal bones and nearly 3,000 artifacts, tools, weapons, and art work of flint, slate, and walrus ivory, as well as parts of a few wooden implements.