WMS Past Meetings

Washington Map Society past meeting agendas:

December 11, 2014 – 7:00 PM.  Joel Kovarsky, author, The True Geography of Our Country: Jefferson’s Cartographic Vision (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2014) will discuss his new book and insights on Thomas Jefferson’s cartographic associations.  As the book’s publisher notes: “A philosopher, architect, astronomer, and polymath, Thomas Jefferson lived at a time when geography was considered the "mother of all sciences." Although he published only a single printed map, Jefferson was also regarded as a geographer, owing to his interest in and use of geographic and cartographic materials during his many careers—attorney, farmer, sometime surveyor, and regional and national politician—and in his twilight years at Monticello.” Since Fall 2007, Joel has compiled the “Recent Publications’ column for each issue of The Portolan.


Thursday, January 15, 2015 -  7:00 PM;  JC McElveen, will present From Sea to Shining Sea: The Pacific Railroad Surveys.  In the 1850s, just as the North and the South were about to split apart, a massive effort to link the East and the West by railroad got under way.  The goal of the Pacific Railroad Surveys of the early and mid-1850s was to determine the best route for a transcontinental railroad, and the geographic, geologic, ethnographic, meteorologic and other information collected during those efforts, and disseminated to the public, were invaluable in railroad construction and the post-Civil War settlement of the West.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 -  7:00 PM.  Rob Shenk, Senior Vice President, Visitor Engagement, and Eric Benson, GIS Specialist, from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Museum and Gardens, will discuss their new “Washington’s World”, an online map describing the life and history of George Washington.    The web site (http://www.mountvernon.org/washingtons-world/) is a modern version of the George Washington Atlas, published in 1932 for the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, and edited by Col. Lawrence Martin, Chief, Geography and Map Division.

PROGRAM CHANGE:  The meeting originally scheduled for February 19th (Rob Shenk, Washington’s World) was postponed until March 19th  .This, in turn, postpones our regularly scheduled March 19th program, (Ralph Ehrenberg, Mapping Mr. Madison’s War) until our next program year.  We apologize for the confusion but the change was made in the best interests of our membership and speakers.

Please join the Washington Map Society for our [delayed] March 19  “President’s Day” edition featuring modern interactive mapping of George Washington’s life developed by Washington College (Chestertown, MD) and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Museum and Gardens (Mount Vernon, VA):

Thursday, March 19, 2015 -  7:00 PM.  Rob Shenk, Senior Vice President, Visitor Engagement, and Eric Benson, GIS Specialist, from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Museum and Gardens, will discuss their new interactive map Washington’s World, describing the life and history of George Washington in geo-spatial terms.  This new addition to the Mount Vernon web site is a modern version of the George Washington Atlas, published in 1932 for the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, and edited by Col. Lawrence Martin, Chief, Geography and Map Division, 1923-1945.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 7:00 PM:  Antiquarian Map Acquisition and Sales: Panel Discussion with Eliane Dotson (Old World Auctions, Glen Allen, VA), Bill Stanley (Cartographic Associates, Fulton, MD) and Harry Newman (Old Print Shop, Washington, DC)  The panel will informally discuss the  growth of map collecting and the map trade.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015 - time to be announed.  The 36th Annual Dinner of the Washington Map Society will be held at the Law Offices of Jones Day.  The featured speaker is Pam Scott, one of the leading architectural historians of Washington DC, who will present an illustrated lecture on Benjamin Latrobe: Architect and Surveyor of the United States Capital.   The event will again be held in conjunction with a two-day cartographic conference at the Library of Congress. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 7:00 PM:   Dr. Petra Svarek, (Department of History, University of Vienna, Austria) will present Academic Cartography in Vienna 1848-1900.   
The presentation will focus on thematic maps produced by geographers, geologists, physicians and archaeologists of the University of Vienna and other Viennese scientific institutions between 1848 and 1900.   [The Library of Congress’ Hauslaub-Liechtenstein Collection provides a glimpse into 19th century thematic cartography and will be on display]

Thursday, October 15, 2015 – 7:00 PM.  PM  Ralph Ehrenberg, Chief, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress will present Mapping Mr. Madison's War: American Military Cartography during the War of 1812  In addition to being one of the lesser known conflicts in the early republic, little is known of the maps produced during the War of 1812.  Drawing from the collections of the Library of Congress and the National Archives, Ralph will discuss the state of American military mapping and its growth during the War of 1812
[The Library of Congress Lewis and Clark Collection and other examples of early American military mapping will be on display]

(Added September 25, 2015:)  Members of the Washington Map Society are invited to a free lecture and  reception at the Library of Congress featuring the newly released  HISTORICAL ATLAS OF MAINE by Stephen J. Hornsby on October 29, 2015.  Join us at the Library of Congress to celebrate the publication of the Historical Atlas of Maine (University of Maine Press, 2015) with a presentation by co-editor Stephen J. Hornsby, Ph.D. Director of the Canadian-American Center and Professor of Anthropology and Canadian Studies at the University of Maine.
The Library of Congress Geography and Map Division is hosting this public program  and providing a map display from its collection.  This event is co-sponsored by the University of Maine Humanities Center.

Thursday, November 19, 2015 – 7:00 PM. Chas Llangelan, District of Columbia Land Surveyors and Surveyors Historical Society will present Henry B. Looker: Surveyor and Soldier of the 1890s.  Mr. Llangelan will provide a glimpse into the life, via maps, of Henry B. Looker, a West Point Topographic Engineer who entered into private practice in Washington, DC. Looker established a reputation for accurate, reliable, and beautiful work which provided a thriving business.  Many subdivisions, developments, and historic neighborhoods in the Washington region are the result of Henry B, Looker.   Looker later became the official Surveyor of the District of Columbia and fought in the Spanish American War.  [The Library of Congress’ collection of large scale neighborhood plans created by Looker will be on display]

Thursday, December 3, 2015 – 7:00 PM:  Dr. Jay Lester. Author of the William P. Cummings Map Societies North Carolina Map Blogwill present Maps and Map makers of North Carolina.    Dr. Lester, one of the current recognized authorities on maps of the Tarheel State will discuss some of his favorite – and not so favorite - maps of the state. [Selected examples from the Library of Congress’s collection of North Carolina maps will be on display.]

Thursday, December 17, 2015 –  7:00 PM: Matthew Gilmore author of several local area history publications and articles in Washington History: Journal of Historical Society of Washington;  editor of H-DC; and author of the Washington DC History Resources blog will present The Real Plan of the District of Columbia: The 1893-1908 Map of the Permanent System of Highways.  Overshadowed by L’Enfant and McMillan, the Map became DC’s 20th century ‘Master Plan’ for developing rural Washington County, north of Florida Avenue between 1850 and 1880.  The map can be seen as “Second L’Enfant Plan, for the Rest of DC.”  [Various editions of the Map from the collections of Library of Congress will be on display.]

Thursday, February 18, 7:00 PM -  John Rennie Short, The National Atlas.   This talks looks at the emergence of the modern national atlas in the late nineteenth century down to the present day and reflects the rise of the postcolonial, the newly independent and the recently reinvented. The talk considers a number of themes including, how the atlas depicts national landscapes, embodies national communities and condenses national debates.

John Rennie Short is Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).and the author of 37 books and many papers in academic journals.

Thursday, March 24  7:00 PM - John Hessler.  Watching the Apocalypse:

Using GIS and Social Media to Map Refugees     The dynamics of population movements during humanitarian disasters (natural disasters),  refugee movements (Syrian conflict), revolutions (Middle East), and epidemics (West Africa) all require new mapping tools capable of representing time and handling of huge amounts of data derived from social media and cell-phones. This talk will showcase some of these new dynamic maps and discuss how these new cartographic tools and visualizations are being used in places like the US State Department, the United Nations and NGO’s like Flowminder and CartoDB to help track and model these kinds of mass migration and to help allocate disaster response efforts.

John Hessler is Specialist in Modern Cartography and Geographic Information Science Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Thursday. April 14, 2016 – 7:00 PM.  Ed Papenfuse, former Archivist of  the State of Maryland, will present Thomas Holdsworth Poppleton and the Surveyor's Map that Made Baltimore, a study of noted Baltimore City maker/surveyor, Thomas Holdsworth Poppleton and his large 1822 wall map of the city wgich is regarded as “the most important map of Baltimore City ever produced and was widely copied by Fielding Lucas and others.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016 – 1:00 PM.   Field Trip to Alan M. and Nathalie P. Voorhees Lectures on the History of Cartography. Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St., Richmond, Virginia.  The annual Voorhees Lecture at the Library of Virginia features two long time Washington Map Society members in 2016: Donald Hawkins will preset Alexandria, Virginia: In and Out of the District of Columbia, 1791-1865”  and Dennis Gurtz  will discuss Iconic Maps of Washington D.C.  A special exhibition of Alexandria, D.C./Virginia and Washington D.C. maps and views, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  The free lectures and exhibition begin at 1pm with free parking available under the Library.   See www.lva.virginia.gov/maps or call 804-692-3561.  Library of Virginia. 800 E Broad Street.

On Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 7:00 PM, Dr. Cheryl LaRoche, archaeologist and historian and Lecturer, University of Maryland, presented: Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance. The most successful escapes of the Underground Railroad depended on shrewdness and knowledge of the landscape. Using a variety of maps, this talk will reveal the unsung role Free Black Communities played in delivering on the quest for freedom from slavery and oppression. The talk is based on Dr. LaRoche’s recent book, The Geography of Resistance: Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad.

October 13, 2016

Kimball Brace, President of Election Data Services, a political consulting firm specializing in redistricting, election administration, and the analysis and presentation of census and political data, will present Red vs Blue, a History of Political Mapping and the Use of Color.  Mr. Brace started his company 39 years ago and since 1986 has been the creator and producer of the large Election Results posters that are published within two weeks of each general election.  These posters grace the walls of most congressional offices, press rooms, and political consultant offices in DC and around the nation.  Mr. Brace has also been involved in redistricting in more than half the nation over the past four decades and works with state and local governments in election administration and utilizes GIS to check voter registration files.

On Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 7:00 PM, P.J. Mode, a long-time student and collector of maps, will present Maps and Messages: Deconstructing Persuasive Cartography. "Persuasive" or "suggestive" maps are those intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs - to send a message - rather than to communicate objective geographic information. Mr. Mode will show and discuss examples published over five centuries regarding a number of subjects, including advertising and promotion, finance, imperialism, politics, religion, war and peace. More information on persuasive cartography and Mr. Mode's collection is available on his website: persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/.

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 7:00 PM, Dr. Shelley S. Mastran, Chair of the Board for the Reston Historic Trust and Museum, and Visiting Assistant Professor in Practice, Urban Affairs & Planning, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), will present Early Roads and Settlements in Northern Virginia: A Cartographic PerspectiveThe presentation will trace the evolution of European settlement and road construction in Northern Virginia with a focus on Fairfax County.  Early maps help explain the rationale for this development.

January 12, 2017

The Society will host a Members' Map Evening, where members are invited to bring a special map to share and discuss.  Up to 10 members are invited to bring a map of special significance to them, describing the map to the assembled group.  Those of you who are interested in bringing a map to share should prepare a short commentary on the map (no more than 5 minutes).  Please contact Eliane Dotson at eliane@oldworldauctions.com to sign up to present a map.  The first 10 members to respond will be presenters.

February 16, 2017

Dr. Sven Furhmann, Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University will give a talk on "How to Fold a Map."  2016 marked the International Map Year, a worldwide recognition of maps, mapping products and their roles and uses. While on one hand the history and achievements of mapping products were celebrated; the International Map Year also encouraged exploring new challenges and opportunities to further develop spatial visualization techniques and products. Dr. Fuhrmann has been a member of geovisualization developments for the past 15 years and has significantly shaped cartography and geovisualization research. His presentation will reflect on past geovisualization challenges and achievements and highlight research in virtual and augmented realities.

March 18, 2017 @ 10:00 AM (Saturday Field Trip)

The Society will meet at the National Museum of the American Indian (4th St & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560) to learn how maps are integrated within an exhibit environment. The tour will be led by Daniel Cole, who has served as the Research Cartographer for the Smithsonian since 1986 and as the Institution's GIS Coordinator since 1990. The field trip will visit two exhibits with discussions about the maps involved in each: "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire" and "Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations."
The tour will last approximately 1.5 hours. Afterward members can tour the museum at their own pace. On the premises are the Mitsitam Café, open daily 11 AM–3 PM; closed December 25 and the Mitsitam Coffee bar, open daily 10 AM-5:30 PM. The museum will begin closing at 5:15 PM.
Visitors should be prepared for a security check upon entrance to the museum. Please note there may be a line to enter the building on busy days. Security policies and a list of prohibited items are available on the Security page.

April 20, 2017, 6:00 PM (NOTE:  This is the CORRECT date.  Elsewhere it had been incorrectly reported).

Ed Redmond, Specialist of Cartographic Reference and Curator of the Vault Collections in the Geography & Map Division of the Library of Congress, will present “George Washington’s Manuscript Maps and Surveys: 1748-1799.”  In addition to his service in the Virginia Regiment, the Continental Army, and as President of the United States, George Washington was a prodigious map maker and consumer of geographic information.  This talk will focus on George Washington’s early professional land surveys (1748-1752) as well maps Washington prepared for his personal land speculation activities (1769-1799).

May 25, 2017

Please join the Washington Map Society in the beautiful Capitol Visitor Center for our 38th Annual WMS Dinner. Thursday, May 25, 2017 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM (EDT)
U.S. Capitol Visitors Center Room HVC-201AB
First Street Northeast
Washington DC 20515

6:00pm - Cocktail hour (open bar)
7:00pm - Dinner (buffet style)
8:00pm - Presentation by Dr. Stephen J. Hornsby (University of Maine)
Dr. Hornsby will be discussing his most recent book, Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps, showcasing a diverse array of vivid and popular pictorial maps, Hornsby has unearthed the most fascinating and visually striking maps the United States has to offer!
Tickets are $75 per person. Tickets purchased after May 18 will increase to $85, so we encourage guests to R.S.V.P. early! There are two ways to register for the event:

  1. Pay by Check: Checks can be sent to Peter J Porazzo, WMS Treasurer, 1924 Tysons Trace Drive, Vienna, VA 22182.  Please make checks payable to the "Washington Map Society" and mail to the above address before May 18, 2017.
  2. Pay by Credit Card: If you wish to pay by credit card, click here to register and pay for tickets online on the secure Eventbrite website. Please note there is a small additional fee to pay by credit card.

On Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 5:00 PM, 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.”  The talk will discuss how multispectral images 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 successfully able to reveal damaged text on the map that had since faded to illegibility, thereby illuminating how Waldseemüller had relied on the earlier map.

On Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 5:00 PM, 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 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 arising from the line’s placement.

On Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 5:00 PM, Dr. Donald L. McGuirk, a retired physician with a keen interest in early world maps and cartographic myths, 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.

MEETING CANCELLED!!!!  On Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 5:00 PM, Leslie Trager will present “Henry Hudson: Cree History and Ancient Maps.”  The talk will be largely based on Trager's online book of the same title which deals with evidence that Hudson had maps from surveys made about 5000 years ago, or around 3000 BC.  It will also deal with the Cree interaction with Hudson, as conveyed in their oral history. 

On Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 5:00 PM, Christian J. Koot will present "A Biography of a Map in Motion: Augustine Herrman's Chesapeake." Virginia and Maryland as it is Planted and Inhabited is one of the most extraordinary maps of colonial British America. Created by a colonial merchant, planter, and diplomat named Augustine Herrman, the map pictures the Mid-Atlantic in breathtaking detail, capturing its waterways, coastlines, and communities. Christian Koot's talk follows the map from the waterways of the Chesapeake to the workshops of London and offers new insights into the creation of empire in North America.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 5:00 PM, Leslie Trager will present “Henry Hudson: Cree History and Ancient Maps.”  The talk will be largely based on Trager's online book of the same title which deals with evidence that Hudson had maps from surveys made about 5000 years ago, or around 3000 BC.  It will also deal with the Cree interaction with Hudson, as conveyed in their oral history. 

On Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 5:00 PM, John Hessler will give a talk on "Mapping Indigenous Spaces: The Rare Codex Quetzalecatzin Comes to the Library of Congress."  The Codex Quetzalecatzin, is an extremely rare, colored Mesoamerican map and one of the most important indigenous manuscripts from the earliest history of the Americas to become available in recent history. As is typical for an Aztec, or Nahuatl, codex of this early date (circa 1570-95), it relates the extent of land ownership and properties of a family line.  Acquired by the Library Congress in 2017, this important piece has now been made available to the public digitally, for the first time in more than one hundred years. The lecture will explain the acquisition by the Library of the Codex, its history, and new research on its origins and use.

On Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 5:00 PM, Mark Monmonier will discuss "Patents and Plato: Map-related Patents in General, and One Clever Inventor in Particular." Map historians have paid little attention to patents even though over 300 patents for devices intended to promote the use of maps and map information were issued by the U.S. Patent Office from the mid-19th century through early 20th century. This talk will review the principal areas of invention and highlight one emblematic entrepreneur, John Byron Plato (1876-1966), whose 1915 patent for a method that assigned rural residences a unique address led to the Index Map Company.  Mark Monmonier is a Distinguished Professor of Geography at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He specializes in toponymy, geography, and geographic information systems. His popular written works show a combination of serious study and a sense of humor. Most of his work is published by University of Chicago Press.

Click HERE for Professor Monmonier's interesting website.

On Friday, May 4, 2018 at 6:00 PM, the Washington Map Society 39th Annual Dinner will be held at Maggiano's Little Italy Restaurant at Tysons II Galleria in McLean, VA.  Members and non-members welcome!  The evening will include a cocktail hour, buffet dinner, and guest speaker S. Max Edelson, who will give a presentation on "The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence" (see review in issue 100 of The Portolan).  This talk will describe how Great Britain attempted to take command of North America and the West Indies in the generation before the American Revolution.  Edelson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where he teaches the history of cartography, early America, and the Atlantic world, and co-director of the UVA Early American Seminar at Monticello. Details and reservation details forthcoming.

20 September 2018     The Lost Original Survey Maps of Georgetown

         Speaker:  Charles (Chaz) Langelan, Surveyors Historical Society (WMS)

Tiny colonial Georgetown was first laid out not by a surveyor, but by its town clerk in 1752. His many errors weren't solved for six years. Then between 1770 and 1825, Georgetown expanded ten times in size through nearly a dozen “Additions.” These were private real-estate developments added to the town, mapped out by various people, skilled and unskilled. Some of those drawings made it into public records; others never did. At least half of Georgetown's original maps were lost for 150 years or more, and some were never found. They have long constituted one of the biggest gaps in our knowledge of DC. Thus while Washington City's famous maps are carefully preserved, much of Georgetown's remained a mystery. Retired land surveyor Chas Langelan spent much of 2017 digging deep into original-source archives, unearthing a considerable amount of information unseen for decades or centuries…including many (but not all) of The Lost Original Survey Maps of Georgetown.

25 October 2018         Sailing the Aegean Sea: A Renaissance Journey in Maps

Speaker:  Dr. Evelyn Edson, Professor Emeritus,

Virginia Piedmont Community College (WMS)

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 the 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. Edson will discuss the origin of the book, Buondelmoni’s life exploring the Greek isles, and the task of replicating his masterpiece for modern study.

3 November 2018       Field Trip to Baltimore Area Home of WMS Member to View Collection

                                    Host: Mr. Robert G, Map Collector (WMS)

There will be an Open House at the Baltimore area residence of WMS member Robert G. to view nearly 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.

6 December 2018      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

Speaker:  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

                                    Speaker:  Dr. Paulette Hasier

Chief, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

Dr. Hasier will discuss her personal interests in the history of cartography. She will also explain her mandate to take the Geography and Map Division in new directions more attuned to today’s cartographic technology. This does not mean abandoning the historic treasures of the Library, but rather using technical means to make them more readily available to researchers and aficionados alike.

14 February 2019      Washington’s Mapmaker: Colonel Robert Erskine, First Surveyor General

Speaker:  Kass Kassebaum

Department of the Geographer

Robert Erskine (1735–1780) was a Scottish inventor and engineer who came to the colonies in 1771 to run the ironworks at Ringwood, New Jersey and later became sympathetic to the movement for independence. General George Washington appointed him as Geographer and Surveyor General of the Continental Army at the rank of colonel; Erskine drew more than 275 maps, mostly of the Northeast region. His untimely death as the war was ending is largely responsible for his relative anonymity among the heroes of the Revolution.

(The Department of the Geographer aims to accurately portray a Continental Army Staff surveying party including proper uniforms & clothing, equipment & instruments, skills & knowledge, theatre of operations & campaigns during the period from 1777 to 1783.)

21 March 2019          The History of Cartography Project: Its Past, Future, and Lasting Importance

Speaker: Dr. Matthew Edney,

University of Southern Maine; Osher Chair in the History of Cartography; Osher Map Library;

Director, History of Cartography Project

In 1977, David Woodward and J. B. Harley conceived of The History of Cartography to encourage connoisseurs of maps, devotees of map history, and specialists dedicated to identifying and describing early maps to also consider how and why people have made and used maps - from mere documents to cultural artifacts. The effort exploded beyond their wildest expectations, expanding from a four-book series to six broadly inclusive and increasingly large volumes, some with multiple books. It also fostered an unprecedented sense of community among map scholars around the world.


11 April 2019

What’s My Map Worth? How to Value Antique Maps

Speaker:  Eliane Dotson, Owner of Old World Auctions and president of the Washington Map Society

Most of us have maps, whether in drawers, framed on walls, or in our attics. Have you ever wondered what your maps are worth? Join WMS President Eliane Dotson as she shares secrets of the trade on how to value antique maps. Learn the difference between various types of values, such as insurance appraisals, dealer prices, and auction estimates. Discover which key factors most affect the value of a map, including color, state/edition, published format, and condition. Learn where to find information on current and historical prices for maps and how to evaluate the validity of the data. Although valuing antique maps is part art and part science, this lecture will guide both new and experienced collectors to a better understanding of how maps are valued and why some maps are worth more than others.

May 17, 2019                   Annual Dinner

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:

Friday, May 17, 2019 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)

Maggiano's Little Italy, Tysons II Galleria Mall
2001 International Drive
McLean, VA 22102

View Map


Please join WMS for our 40th Annual Dinner, held again this year at Maggiano's Little Italy, Tysons II Galleria Mall, Tysons, VA.

Come enjoy an evening of fine food & drink, camaraderie and an enlightening presentation. 

6:00 pm - Social Hour (cash bar)

7:00 pm - Italian Feast

8:00 pm - Presentation by J. C. McElveen

About our SpeakerJ. C. McElveen is a retired lawyer, former Program Chair and President of the WMS, and collector of American exploration. He has written and spoken on many map-related topics, and 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 catalog

Presentation "A Romp Through 19th Century Westward Expansion: From Lewis & Clark to Custer’s Last Stand" —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.