First map to name America hits shores

WASHINGTON -- The earliest map using "America" to label part of the New World is going on display in America for the first time.

The 496-year-old Waldseemueller map, sometimes called America's birth certificate, will be on public view at the Library of Congress starting today.

The library recently completed the $10 million purchase of the 12-panel map covering 36 square feet, the most expensive single item it has ever acquired. It was owned by Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg, at whose castle in southwestern Germany the document was discovered a century ago. It is the only one known to survive of the 1,000 copies of the map said to have been printed.

"It was a bargain," said John K. Hebert, chief of the library's Geography and Map Division. He hopes for important new research now that the map is in the United States.

"AMERICA," appears on a part showing Brazil.