Latitudes Oct. 2018


Map Society


October 2018



Halloween is on the way, so it seems appropriate to feature an other-worldly (or perhaps after-worldly) map for the occasion. This is the grave cover of Gaspar de Figuera, one of the Knights of Malta. Knights were buried in the floor of the co-cathedral in Valleta, with an ornate grave cover to mark the resting place. These covers, which adjoin one another, constitute the floor of the cathedral. In the map (toward the top of the image), Malta is the island just below Sicily, just below the toe of Italy. Malta is shown much larger in scale than it actually is, except in history, where it does loom large indeed. That Latin inscription reads “His hour has come and yours will come.”




Thursday, 25 October 2018, 5:00 PM, Madison Building, Geography and Map Reading Room, Library of Congress: Sailing the Aegean Sea: A Renaissance Journey in Maps, by Dr. Evelyn Edson, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Piedmont Community College


In the early 15th century, Cristoforo Buondelmonti left his home town of Florence to visit the island of Crete. His purpose was to collect Greek manuscripts for the collection of his patron, Niccolo Niccoli, but he became smitten with the atmosphere, the mythological past, and the historical present of the islands, and never returned home. After writing an extensive account of the island of Crete, he went on to create the first isolario, or atlas of islands, describing 79 Greek locales and including a detailed map of each one. His work (pre-Gutenberg) was hand copied many times and survives in some 70 copies.


He was followed by a number of imitators, and the isolario became a popular genre for several centuries; it retains its fascination for modern viewers. Dr. Evelyn Edson will discuss the origin of this book and Buondelmoni’s life exploring the Greek isles. She is the editor of the recently published Description of the Aegean and Other Islands, a re-creation of Buondelmonti’s masterpiece.




Saturday, November 3, 2018 – 1:00-4:00 PM – Baltimore, MD
There will be an Open House at the home of a WMS member Robert Gensler to view around 100 maps framed and hung in his home. His collection has two main foci: Age of Discovery and Early Colonial Americana. The former includes maps of the world and continents by Schedel, Waldseemuller, Fries, Ruscelli, Ortelius, Munster, Blaeu, and Braun and Hogenberg. His Early Colonial Americana includes maps of Virginia, Maryland, and DC, including those by Jansson, Speed, and Fry-Jefferson. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served. To sign up for this event, please contact WMS President Eliane Dotson at Registration will be limited to the first 35 guests. Complete details will be made available to those signed up as the date draws nearer. (Note: This event was originally planned for May 2018, but was rescheduled due to a family emergency. Please sign up again even if you were signed up for the field trip in May.)




Thursday, December 6, 2018 – 5:00 PM – Madison Building, Geography and Map Reading Room, Library of Congress: Flying by the Seat of Your Pants:  Rand McNally, and Post Office (Belt Maps – The U. S. Post Office Airmail Service Air Navigation, 1918 – 1926), by Mr. Ralph Ehrenberg; Chief, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Retired (WMS)

The United States Post Office’s Airmail Service played a pivotal role in developing the aeronautical chart in the United States from its establishment in 1918 through 1926 when airmail service was contracted out to private carriers. As the first organization in America to fly long distance scheduled flights on a daily basis, the Airmail Service worked closely with other Federal agencies, state and municipal governments, private industry, and civic groups to establish a national airways system analogous to the nation’s railroad and highway systems. The lack of adequate flying maps remained a major problem, however. As airmail pilot Ken McGregor remembered, “I got from place to place [by] the seat of my pants [and] the ability to recognize every town, river, railroad, farm, and, yes, outhouse along the route.” While a few pilots like McGregor relied strictly upon visual navigation, the majority resorted to using some form of published map. In an illustrated lecture, Mr. Ehrenberg will trace the history of map use by the Airmail Service and its own efforts in developing a basic aeronautical chart.




24 January 2019
The Map Collection of the G&M:  New Directions, by Dr. Paulette Hasier, Chief, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

14 February 2019
Washington’s Mapmaker: Colonel Robert Erskine, First Surveyor General, by Kass Kassebaum, Department of the Geographer (WMS)

21 March 2019
The History of Cartography Project: Its Past, Future, and Lasting Importance, by Dr. Matthew Edney, University of Southern Maine; Osher Chair in the History of Cartography; Osher Map Library; Director, History of Cartography Project (WMS)

11 April 2019
In the Footsteps of the Crime (Recovering a Map Masterpiece stolen by E. Forbs Smiley), by Dr. Ronald Grim, Formerly Curator of Maps, Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library (WMS)

May 2019
Annual Dinner - Details yet to be determined




Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBBM), St. Michaels, MD.  Exploring the Chesapeake–Mapping the Bay. (New Listing)
This exhibit examines the different ways the Chesapeake Bay has been portrayed over time through mapping and charting. The exhibition continues in CBMM’s Steamboat Building through March 17, 2019. The exhibit was recently visited by four WMS presidents (see WMS web page for details) who gave it high marks. For more information:



North American Cartographic Information Society. October 17–20, 2018. Norfolk, Virginia.
The 38th Annual Meeting of NACIS will be held 17-20 October 2018 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel, 235 E. Main Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510.


Join professionals and enthusiasts from government, commercial, and not-for-profit groups along with academics, scholars, map/GIS librarians, artists, technologists, and students who share your interests. Keynote Speakers: James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti are the 2017—2018 recipients of the Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography. Registration is now open. Details can be found at


ICHC Amsterdam 2019 Call for Papers Now Open
The International Conference on the History of Cartography (ICHC) 2019 will take place in Amsterdam 14-19 July 2019. It will be organized and hosted by the Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam and the Explokart Research Group, in collaboration with Imago Mundi Ltd and with several Dutch academic institutions, museums and libraries. It is entitled Old Maps, New Perspectives. Studying the History of Cartography in the 21st Century. The call for papers has been announced and will remain open until 15 October 2018.

Proposals for individual papers, special sessions, participatory workshops and poster presentations are welcome listed in the following conference themes:
    The Production and Circulation of Maps in the Past
    Multifunctional and Multimedia Maps
    Maps in the Digital World
    Maps and Water
    Any other aspect of the history of cartography
Deadline for submission of proposals is Monday 15 October 2018. Applicants will be notified of the acceptance or rejection of their proposal by Friday 18 January 2019. For additional details see
There will be a feature story about the ICHC in the Winter 2018 Portolan.



Fry Jefferson Map Society, Library of Virginia (LAV). Saturday, 3 November 2018, 10 AM.


The Fry-Jefferson Map Society will bring S. Max Edelson, author of The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America Before Independence, to the Library for a map lecture and book signing. If you missed Max’s presentation at our 2018 annual banquet, this is your chance to fill in the blank. His latest book examines the cartographic record of empire in British America in the generation before the American Revolution and features a dynamic digital archive of 257 maps and map collections. He’s a great speaker and the topic is an important one. For more information or membership in the Fry-Jeff, contact Dawn Greggs at or 804.692.3813. Cost: $20 to members of the general public; $15 for Semper Virginia Society members; free for Fry-Jeff members. To register visit:


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.




Cartographic Quotes:

“For years, I carried the same map wherever I went. When I wasn’t travelling, Scotch tape held it to the back of my bedroom door: it was visible to me when the door was closed, but invisible to almost everyone else. That map moved from dorm rooms to apartments and houses, from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to New England, from New England to the United Kingdom, and back again. When I felt homesick, I would drag my fingers up and down the map’s paper folds, tracing its shorelines and rivers, wishing they were the real thing. But touching that map only made me more homesick. What I wanted was a map of exact scale, one that wasn’t just a representation but reality itself, the sort imagined by Lewis Carroll in 'Sylvie and Bruno Concluded'.…I suppose anyone who is homesick or lost wants that mile-to-mile correspondence. But Carroll’s map is pure fiction, and not only because of its outlandish scale. No map can be a perfect representation of reality; every map is an interpretation, which may be why writers are so drawn to them. Writers love maps: collecting them, creating them, and describing them. Literary cartography includes not only the literal maps that authors commission or make themselves but also the geographies they describe. The visual display of quantitative information in the digital age has made charts and maps more popular than ever, though every graphic, like every story, has a point of view.'”

Casey N. Sep
The Allure of the Map
New Yorker Magazine
22 January 2014



(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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