Latitudes Newsletter August 2017

Map Society
August 2017


Please Note: This meeting will begin at 5 PM. This will be the new meeting time for Washington Map Society meetings, per direction from the LoC Geography and Map Division.
Thursday, September 14, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Chet van Duzer, who is currently on an NEH-Mellon Fellowship at the Library of Congress, will present Lighting the Way from Henricus Martellus to Martin Waldseemüller: Multispectral Imaging and Early Renaissance Cartography. 
Multi-spectral imaging is giving scholars access to centuries old writing and inscriptions that they never knew existed, or could no longer read. Chet van Duzer is one of the leading figures in this effort. His talk will discuss how multispectral images have allowed researchers to explore the relationship between Henricus Martellus' world map of 1491 and Martin Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507. Through the use of multispectral images, researchers were able to reveal damaged text on the map that had since faded to illegibility, thus illuminating how Waldseemüller had relied on the earlier map.
Thursday, October 12, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Lorna Hainesworth, an ambassador for the Surveyors Historical Society and an independent scholar studying American history, will give a talk on Meriwether Lewis’s Survey at Cumberland Gap. This presentation was triggered by a survey that Meriwether Lewis conducted at Cumberland Gap in November 1806. The talk describes the anomalies in the dividing line between Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, the major contributors to the line’s survey, and the controversy that arose from the line’s placement. Lorna is a new member of WMS but has been a fixture in the history of surveying community for many years.

Thursday, November 9, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Dr. Donald L. McGuirk, is a retired physician with a keen interest in early world maps and cartographic myths. He will discuss A Survey of the Stars and Stripes on Early Maps, 1777-1795
The first official definition of the United States flag reads: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." The purpose of this survey is to identify, illustrate, and discuss maps that depict, in part or in whole, a flag meeting that definition. The variety and manner are more varied than one might suppose.

The WMS Facebook page started in early spring of 2010. Four years later we had about 160 members, mainly because Richard Moore and Doug Lyon had breathed some new life into it. The WMS board felt a new effort should be made to see what, if anything, we could do with it. In July 2017, we crossed the 500 member line, a gain of 296 in the past 21 months. As the content manager, I’m pleased, but I’d like to see more actual WMS members sign on, comment on posts, and even create new posts to share with others. Growth has been largely in non-members, who are welcome to join the page without being WMS members. They tend to be about a generation younger and to live all over the world. This is not wasted effort. Some are young staffers at various map libraries in Europe; others are in the antiquarian map business; still others are working scholars, etc. It has been useful in increasing WMS name recognition, but we would benefit, from having more active WMS members. Give it a try and see what the other 500 are getting. If you have questions, my email address is in the directory. Thanks. (Bert Johnson)

Quite by chance we noticed that two past Ristow Prize winners had been in the news recently for additional cartographic exploits. Ruth Watson was our 2005 winner for her paper on The Decorated Hearts of Oronce Fine: The 1531 Double Cordiform Map of the World. At the time Ruth was completing her doctorate at the Australian National University in Canberra. She returned to her native New Zealand where she has been a successful working artist and faculty member at the University of Auckland. Ruth has just received A $40,000 commission for four globes to adorn plinths on Aukland’s waterfront.
Kevin Sheehan was our Ristow winner for 2011 while he was a doctoral candidate at the University of Durham (England). His winning paper was on Utility and Aesthetic: The Function and Subjectivity of Two Fifteenth Century Portolan Charts. He now has a cartographic studio of his own.
In 2014 he made his first map of distilleries of Scotland, past and present. It sold out completely, and since then there has been an update each year, all completely sold out. The new 2017 edition shows 157 operational and recently-closed single malt distilleries, including new sites to have opened over the last year. We’re sure the research is grueling. Be strong, Kevin.

San Francisco Map Fair, San Francisco, CA
15-17 September 2017

Society for the History of Discoveries, Milwaukee, WI
22-23 September 2017 (w/optional events 21 & 24 September)
SHD Web Site:

IMCoS Symposium in Hamburg, Germany
8 - 12 October 2017
IMCOS Web Site:
Symposium Web Site:
IMCoS Symposium Venue (Library of Commerce)
Miami International Map Fair, Miami, FL
2-4 February 2018

Three for Texas:
The state of Texas has three major exhibits running at present.
College Station: Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, invites visitors to explore fantasy maps with the new exhibit, Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collection. This exhibit closes 8 October.
Austin: The Bullock Museum offers Mapping Texas: Collections from the Texas General Land Office throughout the year; maps change quarterly.
Houston: Featuring maps dating from 1513 to 1920, Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, traces more than 400 years of Texas history. It runs until October 8. The three locations are within three hours of one another, making it  possible to see all of them in an extended weekend.
(Huntsville: Note also that on October 26-28, 2017 the Fall Meeting of the Texas Map Society will be held at Sam Houston State University in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southwest Department of the American Association of Geographers. Additional information from Ben Huseman, huseman(at), T 817 272-0633.)
Note: Far 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.
Cartographic Quotes:
“A number of astronauts, and then all of us who saw the photography from space, marveled at how much the Florida peninsula, meandering Mississippi, the islands of Britain, and the boot of Italy resembled the maps everyone had grown up with. We had taken it for granted that maps were faithful reflections of reality; but we were somehow amazed when reality turned out to be true to the maps.“

John Noble Wilford, The Mapmakers

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