Chicago Map Society

The Chicago Map Society typically meets at The Newberry on the third Thursday of every month during the academic year (September through May). Meetings start at 5:30 p.m. with a social half-hour, followed by an hour presentation on a cartographic subject of interest to our membership. Our meetings are open to the public, but to help defray expenses, non-members are asked for a small donation at the door. If you are unfamiliar with The Newberry, which is located on the near north side of Chicago, here are directions.

The list below details the upcoming meetings of the Chicago Map Society, as well as an occasional event that is of especial importance to our membership.

John Docktor maintains calendars of map society meetings and cartographic exhibitions worldwide, both of which are available at Cartographic Calendars. For information on the events held by Wisconsin Map Society, our sister organization ninety miles to the north, please visit their website by clicking here.

Date: Thursday, March 15, 5:30 PM

Title: Treasures from the Archives of Greeley-Howard-Norlin & Smith
Speaker: Don & Tanya Smith
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry

Established in 1854 by Samuel Greeley, Greeley-Howard-Norlin & Smith (GHNS) is the oldest land surveying business in the Chicago metropolitan area. Located in Flossmoor, Ill., the firm’s surveyors have walked virtually every block in Chicago and a good number of suburban properties as well.  And, in its over one-hundred-sixty years in business, GHNS has accumulated an extensive archive that includes 250,000 plats of surveys, over 10,000 copies of plats of recorded subdivisions, and thousands of pages of other survey-related documents and maps. In fact, GHNS has survey plats of Chicagoland from before the Great Chicago Fire, including a number of plats and maps connected to the legal work of an Illinois attorney by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Please join us as the firm’s owners take us on a tour of what is likely the most complete archive of the Chicago metropolitan area in existence today.

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:30 PM
Title:  Mapping the Amazon at the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century: The Contribution of the Franciscan Order
Speaker:  Carme Montaner
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry


Carmé Montaner’s talk will address the first detailed maps of the hydrographic network of the Amazon River made by the Franciscans of the Ocopa College in Peru.  Dr. Montaner will also discuss the implementation of the hydrographic network in the general maps of South America that were published at the beginning of the nineteenth century.


Date: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: How Do I Know My Map is Real?
Speaker: George Ritzlin
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry


We are delighted to have CMS (founding) member and longtime map dealer George Ritzlin speak to us on the topic of map buying. In this first installment of a two-part presentation, George will focus on the timely question, How can we determine whether a map is real? He will explain that in order to ascertain whether an antique map is an original or a later copy that it is important to understand how early maps were made. Accordingly, he will walk us through printing processes, paper production, and atlas production methods. He will then address other important matters, such as the coloring of maps, how to train your eye, and sources—that is, questions such as: Where the map is coming from?, Where can we go to get advice?, and What references may we consult?


By the way, we have tentatively titled the second installment of George’s presentation “How to Buy a Map: Everything Else You Need to Know.” We are scheduling this for our 2018-2019 Program Year, at which time George will enlighten us on such topics as focusing collecting interests, where to find maps, how the market works, and other important issues concerning map buying.


Note: This meeting will be our Annual Business Meeting, at which time we elect Board members and review the previous year’s financial data.


Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: The Shogun’s World: Japanese Maps from the 18th & 19th Centuries
Speaker: Richard Pegg
Location: The Barry MacLean Collection, Green Oaks, Ill.


Please join us as we make our annual June trek to the Barry MacLean Collection, which includes more than 40,000 maps dating from the fifteenth century to the present. This year our meeting will be a special treat, as Richard Pegg, curator of Asian art for the MacLean Collection, will give an exhibition talk and lead us on a tour of maps that showcase the beauty of Japanese printmaking.

The Shogun’s World: Japanese Maps from the 18th & 19th Centuries has traveled to the Chicago Art Institute and the University of Denver, and next fall will be headed to the University of Michigan. During the show’s respite at home, we will have the opportunity to study cartographic works from the MacLean Collection that focus on the world, the Japanese archipelago, and major cities, including Osaka, Yokohama, Edo, Nagasaki, and Kyoto. Highlights include a Buddhist map of the world that translates spiritual forces into physical locations and a blue and white “map plate” that features a relief map of Japan divided into provinces, with additional land masses and mythical locations such as “the land of women” circling the edge of the plate.