Latitudes Newsletter Nov. 2017

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Map Society


November 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, November 9, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Dr. Donald L. McGuirk is a retired physician. He is a founding member and former president of the Rocky Mountain Map Society. He was a charter member of the Philip Lee Phillips Society and serves on its steering committee. He is a member in long standing of the Washington Map Society and the Texas Map Society. 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." (Shown at left) But how did that play out in the first two decades of the fledgling republic? The purpose of this survey is to identify, illustrate, and discuss maps that depict, in part or in whole, a flag meeting that definition in the formative first two decades of the new republic.




Thursday, December 7, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Leslie Trager (WMS) will present Henry Hudson: Cree History and Ancient Maps. Trager is a revisionist historian who believes Cree and Inuit history indicate they encountered Hudson during his exploration of Hudson Bay. The Cree allegedly witnessed the mutiny and rescued Hudson and his remaining men. Trager also believes that knowledge of the Hudson Bay area existed before Hudson arrived there in 1610 based on maps which depicted the Bay years before that date.  Come for a thought-provoking evening.




The Washington Map Society Annual Dinner has been scheduled for Friday, May 4th.  Although we are still finalizing the location (somewhere in the DC area) and other details, we can confirm that our guest speaker will be S. Max Edelson, Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia, who will discuss the research related to his recent book, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence. As always, the Annual Dinner promises to be an event filled with good food, a thought-provoking topic, and general merriment.




Lorna Hainesworth (WMS), an ambassador for the Surveyors Historical Society and an independent scholar studying American history, gave an excellent talk on Meriwether Lewis’s Survey at Cumberland Gap. It was not limited to this one anomaly but reviewed a series of jigs and jogs in what appears on most maps as a straight line (i.e., 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. Factors included impassable terrain, influential local folks, and old fashioned human error.  As luck would have it, the following illustration turned up on FaceBook just afterward. It includes this line among others as in need of tidying up to produce a more orderly map. Not having Lorna’s patience, it just reads “FIX THIS THING.”


(Source:; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.5 License.)




Last Call: More Than Just a Pretty Picture: Reading & Interpreting Maps of Virginia, Richmond, VA
4 November, 2017 @ 10:00 AM
The Fry-Jefferson Map Society and the Library of Virginia Foundation will offer a workshop entitled More Than Just a Pretty Picture: Reading and Interpreting Maps of Virginia for Genealogists, Historians, Teachers, and Map Lovers.


This workshop will explore the symbols and mapping conventions used on maps from the 17th to the 20th centuries to tell the story of the development of Virginia. Maps documented not only Virginia's physical changes but also the changing perceptions of the commonwealth's citizenry. The Library's senior map archivist, Cassandra Farrell (WMS), will team up with Eliane Dotson (VP, WMS), a Fry-Jefferson Map Society Steering Committee Member, and the owner of Old World Auctions, as co-presenters for this workshop. To register, go to


Miami International Map Fair, Miami, FL
2-4 February 2018

15th Annual Alan M. and Nathalie P. Voorhees Lectures on the History of Cartography
28 April, 2018
Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA.  Additional details to be announced.

11th Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography
October 4-6, 2018
The Library, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas. Additional details to be announced. The Texas Map Society Fall Meeting will follow at the same location on October 6.

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.




This is a map made by the Father of Our Country five days after his fifteenth birthday.  In his hand, it reads, “A plan of Maj. Law:Washington’s Turnip Field, as survey’d by me, this 27 day of February 1747,  GW.”
In addition to the four years he later spent as a professional surveyor as a young man, George Washington continued to survey his own lands and prospective purchases all his life.


Cartographic Quotes:


(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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