Latitudes May 2019

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Map Society


May 2019




Location: Maggiano's Little Italy, Tysons Two, Galleria Mall, Tysons, Virginia





"A Romp Through 19th Century Westward Expansion: From Lewis & Clark to Custer's Last Stand"

Speaker: J. C. McElveen; retired attorney; former WMS Board Member, Program Chair, and President, Washington Map Society. J.C. has written and spoken on many map-related topics. In 2018 he curated an exhibit of his maps and books at the prestigious Grolier Club of New York. The exhibit was entitled Westward the Course of Empire: Exploring and Settling the American West, 1803-1869, and included a 155-page catalogue.
In the 73 years between the Louisiana Purchase and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the United States expanded from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and, in the West, from essentially the 32nd parallel of north latitude to the 49th parallel. This expansion encompassed the enormous Louisiana Territory, Texas, the Oregon Country and the Spanish Southwest. At the beginning of the 19th century, this land was essentially unexplored by Americans, with inhabited areas occupied by Native Americans. J. C. will examine, with laser-like precision, barely allowing you to finish your dessert, how and why this expansion occurred, and what happened to the Native American population of the West as a result.

TIME IS SHORT: For full details & to pay by check, click here, print the form and submit it with your payment. To pay by credit card, go to:





On 11 April 2019, the officers and directors of the Society approved a significant change to the structure of the Society’s programs. In the past we have had one program (speaker or field trip) per month from September through May. Starting in the fall of 2019 –

  • The Society will have one program in each of September, October, and November.
  • There will be no program in December.
  • We will seek to offer one event in either January or February, probably a field trip during daylight hours.
  • We will then offer programs in March, April, and May, the last being our annual dinner.

Changes for the winter months reflect the reality of coping with holidays, winter weather, early darkness, and government closure due to budget fights.




Two years ago, the Library of Congress mandated that we move our meeting time from 7 PM to 5 PM. This has sharply reduced the number of persons able to attend the meetings, so we have been seeking a new venue for our gatherings.


Our new location for the fall program will be the Washington Naval Lodge No. 4, 330 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Unit 400, about three blocks from the LoC. Our meeting time will once more be 7 PM. We will miss the LoC and thank them for their hospitality for the past 40 years. These details are also posted on the WMS web site at


Naval Lodge No. 4 was chartered in 1805. For nearly the next 100 years the Lodge was mainly composed of craftsmen and workers from the Navy Yard and the market nearby. In 1893, the Lodge bought its current location and erected the current building. It quickly became a center of Masonic and community activity on Capitol Hill and Southeast Washington and remains so.
Location of Washington Naval Lodge: Just east of the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, Independence Avenue angles to the right and becomes Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. The Washington Naval Lodge is at 330 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. It is on the north side of the street (opposite side from the LoC). The street level is occupied by Chevy Chase Bank, roughly across from the BB&T Bank. The lodge is on the fourth floor at #400.




  • 11 September – Dr. Ron Grim: In the Footsteps of the Crime (Recovering a Masterpiece Stolen by E. Forbes Smiley)
  • 23 October – Dr. Nick Kanas: Heavenly Maps
  • 18 November – Lars Grava: Maps of the Baltic States – Caught Between Empires
  • TBD – Field trip, probably in January, possibly to Mount Vernon




You can consult the WMS website for all sorts of useful information, such as:
Meeting Schedule and Information (including dinner reservations):
Videos of past presentations for members:
Copies of all past issues of the Portolan, including High Resolution editions for the past 15 issues:





(New!) George Washington University Museum, 702 21st Street, NW; Washington, DC; Best Laid Plans: Designs for a Capital City. Through 22 December 2019.


Every landmark in Washington, D.C., has a story. Some never made it past the drawing board. This exhibition examines unrealized designs for the Washington Monument, Memorial Bridge, and other structures around the city through historical prints and paintings from the museum’s Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. More info at



American Philosophical Society (APS), 104 S. 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106. Mapping a Nation: Shaping the Early American Republic. April 12 – December 29, 2019.


This exhibit traces the creation and use of maps in the colonies and young republic from the mid-18th century through 1816. It investigates the way maps, as both artworks and practical tools, had political and social meaning. It features historical maps, surveying instruments, books, manuscripts, and other objects to show how maps were used to create and extend the physical, political, and ideological boundaries of the new nation while creating and reinforcing structural inequalities in the Early Republic. The exhibition emphasizes the processes that produced maps—surveying, drawing, engraving, and printing—in addition to the information and ideas contained in the maps.  It also sheds light on the ways that mapmakers functioned as political actors—and how different people used maps as political and ideological tools—to express multiple, sometimes competing visions of what the new United States would be.
The exhibit draws on the APS’s extensive Library and Museum holdings. Highlights of the exhibition include a 1757 copy of the John Mitchell map of the British Empire in North America, manuscript maps from the American Revolution, surveying instruments, the first map of Tennessee as a state, George Washington’s copy of the 1792 map of Washington, D.C., and maps from the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition along with the copper plates used to publish them.
The APS will sponsor a symposium on “The Power of Maps and the Politics of Borders” on October 10-12, 2019. Details, including those for persons wishing to present papers, can be found at


Just Added! (This one got by us somehow.) The Greenbrier Historical Society, North House Museum, 814 W Washington St., Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Now through October 2019.  Maps and Globes: The Art of Shaping Our World. This exhibit includes many Virginia and West Virginia maps and other cartographic materials. A key item on display is the Society’s original 1828 James Wilson and Sons Terrestrial Globe, recently restored. James Wilson was America's first terrestrial and celestial globe maker. Wilson was self-taught. He and three of his sons operated two manufacturing plants in Bradford, Vt., and Albany, N.Y. After just a few years of operation they were able to outsell the European globe makers who dominated the American market until then. It's a real American success story. The exhibit will include the historical society’s original, fully-restored Wilson terrestrial globe. Another unusual exhibit item is the first map made and engraved in America. Printed in 1794, it is a map of Virginia by Samuel Lewis.


Just Announced! National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration: Nautical Cartography Open House 2019; Friday, 26 July 2019; 8:30 AM to 4 PM; NOAA Science Center, 1301 East West Highway, Silver Spring MD, 20910. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation's nautical chartmaker.


Originally formed by Thomas Jefferson in 1807, the Survey updates charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies, and searches for underwater obstructions that pose a danger to navigation. This event, however, looks forward, not back, highlighting the field of charting and GIS through nautical cartography posters, presentations, tours, & exhibits. More info at





Closing Soon! Rocky Mountain Map Society, Denver, Colorado: Map Month (May 2019). 
If you are planning to be in Denver during the month of May, know that May is designated by the RMMS each year as Map Month, with presentations weekly on diverse topics. The following talks will occur weekly at 5:30 PM at the Denver Public Library Conference Center. This year's topic is Visualizing Colorado: Maps and views of the Centennial State. Free and open to the public.
    May 7:  Christopher W. Lane: Images of Colorado: A century of printed views, 1822-1922
    May 14: Wesley Brown: The Cartographic Roots of Colorado: 1540 to 1861
    May 21: Tom Overton: Mapping of Colorado: 1861 to WWI
    May 28: Christopher W. Lane. The first comprehensive survey of Colorado: F.V. Hayden 1869 to 1876



New! International Congress on Medieval Studies, 9-12 May 2019, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  The 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies meets on the campus of Western Michigan University. Felicitas Schmieder and Dan Terkla have organized “Mappings” sessions the past three years; all are invited you to join them. ICMS “Mappings” rubrics: 1) "Pictura et Scriptura on/and Medieval Maps"; 2) "Skin and Ink: The Materiality of Medieval Maps and Their Codicological Analogs"; 3) "Build it and they [hopefully won’t] come: Placement and Displacement on Medieval Maps" and 4) "Seeing What’s no Longer There: New Imaging Technologies and Medieval Maps." Contact Felicitas Schmieder <felicitas.schmieder(at)> or Dan Terkla <terkla(at)> for additional information.
Another session has been organized by Giovanna Montenegro on "Re-Mapping/Re-Reading Pre-Modern Travel Narratives and Maps." This panel seeks to explore ways that pre-modern travel narratives can be read geographically; also it seeks ways to read maps that were influenced by literature, i.e. literary cartographies. How were late Medieval and early Renaissance maps shaped by literature? Inversely, how are travel narratives and chronicles shaped by the cartographic tradition. More info from Giovanna Montenegro <gmontene(at)>.


S.T. Lee Gallery, Weston Library, Oxford University, UK.  Talking Maps.


The Bodleian Libraries’ summer 2019 exhibition is a celebration of maps and the stories they tell. Drawing on the Bodleian’s unparalleled map collection, Talking Maps brings together an extraordinary collection of ancient, pre-modern and contemporary maps in a range of media as well as showcasing fascinating imaginary, fictional and war maps.


The exhibition will explore how maps are neither transparent objects of scientific communication, nor baleful tools of ideology, but rather proposals about the world that help people to understand who they are by describing where they are. July 2019 - February 2020.


More Opportunities:
Many more events are listed on the web site known simply as Cartography Calendars, operated for many years by WMS member John Docktor. Go to (note relatively new address) and select the page you wish to see, i.e., Calendar of Meetings and/or Calendar of Exhibitions.




Here’s an item that recently got a great deal of attention on our WMS Facebook page. This is a cloak made for Johann Georg I von Sachsen (1585 – 1656), known to his friends as John George the First of Saxony. It was a Christmas present from his mom. The sumptuous silk embroidery shows scenes of his estate which have a map-like quality to them. The cape is six meters in circumference, about 20 feet. The average cape is a fraction of that, but as old JG’s portraits show, he was a gentleman of ample girth. The cape is made of blue velvet and embroidered with views of his realm: Dresden, the palace and the river Elbe, complete with stone bridges and sea monsters. Photo: Jürgen Karpinski, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.


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Cartographic Quotations

We went to sleep about four o'clock, and woke up about eight. The professor was setting back there at his end, looking glum. He pitched us some breakfast, but he told us not to come abaft the midship compass. That was about the middle of the boat. Well, when you are sharp-set, and you eat and satisfy yourself, everything looks pretty different from what it done before. It makes a body feel pretty near comfortable, even when he is up in a balloon with a genius. We got to talking together.
There was one thing that kept bothering me, and by and by I says:
“Tom, didn't we start east?"
"How fast have we been going?"
"Well, you heard what the professor said when he was raging round. Sometimes, he said, we was making fifty miles an hour, sometimes ninety, sometimes a hundred; said that with a gale to help he could make three hundred any time, and said if he wanted the gale, and wanted it blowing the right direction, he only had to go up higher or down lower to find it."
"Well, then, it's just as I reckoned. The professor lied."
"Because if we was going so fast we ought to be past Illinois, oughtn't we?"
"Well, we ain't."
"What's the reason we ain't?"
“I know by the color. We're right over Illinois yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain't in sight."
"I wonder what's the matter with you, Huck. You know by the COLOR?"
“Yes, of course I do."
"What's the color got to do with it?"
"It's got everything to do with it. Illinois is green, Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here, if you can. No, sir; it's green."
"Indiana PINK? Why, what a lie!"
"It ain't no lie; I've seen it on the map, and it's pink."
You never see a person so aggravated and disgusted. He says:
"Well, if I was such a numbskull as you, Huck Finn, I would jump over. Seen it on the map! Huck Finn, did you reckon the States was the same color out-of-doors as they are on the map?"
"Tom Sawyer, what's a map for? Ain't it to learn you facts?"
"Of course."
"Well, then, how's it going to do that if it tells lies? That's what I want to know."
"Shucks, you muggins! It don't tell lies."
"It don't, don't it?"
"No, it don't."
"All right, then; if it don't, there ain't no two States the same color. You git around THAT if you can, Tom Sawyer."


Tom Sawyer Abroad
Mark Twain


(Note: For better or worse – probably the latter – most written content in Latitudes is the work and wording of editor Bert Johnson, Vice President and Program Chair of WMS. Bert can be reached at Lay-out, much of the graphics, and transmission is done by Eliane Dotson, President of WMS.) 


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