WMS Meetings Info

Member and non-member information

Non-members always welcome!




Program Structure: After considerable discussion by WMS board members, the structure of the WMS program was altered as follows:

a. September, October, and November:  one speaker in each

b. December: no program

c. January: field trip

d. February: no program

e. March, April, May:  one speaker or field trip in each

Rationale:  Winter months have been periods of lower attendance for various reasons. December brings a host of holidays and competing events. January is a good time for a field trip because it can be done during daylight hours and on a weekend. February remains cold and wintry, a difficult time to host an event in the evening in downtown DC. Norma program then resumes in March, with the annual dinner in May.

Venue:  Two years ago, the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division mandated that we move our meeting time from 7 PM to 5 PM. This change has sharply reduced the number of persons able to attend the meetings, so we have been seeking a new place to meet. Our new location for the fall program will be the Washington Naval Lodge No. 4 (see below). Meeting time will once more be 7 PM. We will miss the LoC and thank them for their hospitality for the past 40 years.

Naval Lodge No. 4 (Masonic) 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 all sorts of community activity on Capitol Hill and remains so.

The lodge is located a short distance (walking) east of the Madison Building of the Library of Congress. Independence Avenue on which the Madison Building is located, angles slightly to the right and becomes Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. The Washington Naval Lodge is at 300 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.

Eliane Dotson (Eliane@oldworldauctions.com) is President and Bert Johnson (mandraki@verizon.net) is VP and Programs chair.  Eliane and Bert welcome suggestions for future programs and speakers.

Weather:  The WMS follows the closing decisions of the Federal Government. If the Federal Government is closed, our meeting will be canceled. In the event bad weather develops later in the day, we may still be forced to cancel. We will attempt to send out a blast e-mail in that case. Please check your email account for a WMS notice before coming to a meeting when bad weather is predicted. 

May 17, 2019                   Annual Dinner, Click HERE for full information and to make a reservation.

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

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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.

Directions Maggiano’s is located in Tysons II Galleria Mall - easy to reach from the Beltway. Take I-495 to Exit 46, Virginia Route 123 West, Chain Bridge Road. Turn north on International Drive, then use the mall entrance at Greensboro Drive. Maggiano's is well marked. Parking is free. The Metro Silver Line Tysons Corner Station is less than a 3-block walk.

(Ticket price: $75.00 plus Eventbrite fee)

Payments ($75) may also be made via check to Peter J Porazzo, WMS Treasurer, 1924 Tysons Trace Drive, Vienna, VA 22182.  Checks should be made payable to the "Washington Map Society."

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We hope you can make it!Cheers,Eliane Dotson


September 11, 2019      

Title:  In the Footsteps of the Crime       

Speaker:  Dr. Ronald Grim formerly Curator of Maps, Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library

In 2005, Dr. Ron Grim became the Curator of Map at the Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library. A few months later, map thief E. Forbes Smiley was arrested. Because Smiley was a frequent visitor to the BPL (or Boston Public Library), Ron initiated a massive cataloging and digitizing program.  They identified about 70 maps Smiley had examined which were missing.  Diligent efforts led to the recovery of about half of them, but some treasures appeared lost for good. A decade later, however, the BPL was able to recover a missing masterpiece by Samuel de Champlain (Carte Geographique de Nouvelle France) after Dr. Grim spotted it in the catalog of a prominent dealer (asking price $285,000). Dr. Grim will discuss the theft, the security and inventory measures that resulted, and the recovery of the Champlain map.


Title: Heavenly Maps

Speaker: Nick Kanas, M.D.  WMS

Nick Kanas, M.D., is a Professor Emeritus (Psychiatry) at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.  He has conducted NASA-funded research, has been an amateur astronomer for nearly 60 years, and has collected antiquarian celestial maps, books, and prints for over 35 years.  He has given a number of talks on celestial cartography to amateur and professional groups, and he has written two books on the subject:  Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography, now in its 3rd edition, and Solar System Maps: From Antiquity to the Space Age.    

People have observed the night sky since antiquity. The ancient Greeks placed the stars in a coordinate system that was based on celestial latitude and longitude, but they also organized them in a group of constellations that were viewed as allegorical representations of classical Greek heroes, heroines, and monsters. These images formed the backbone of constellation maps that appeared in stunningly beautiful star atlases of the 17th and 18th Centuries.  Dr. Kanas will discuss this history of star mapping using striking images from antiquarian sources.    


Title: Maps of the Baltic States - Caught Between Empires

Speaker: Lars Grava, JD (WMS)

Mr. Grava works for the World Bank.

Mr. Grava will present selected antiquarian maps of the territories that are now the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, with a focus on his ancestral homeland of Latvia. The collection provides a fascinating insight into a turbulent geographical area which has been subject to the German Teutonic Knights, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.  Mr. Grava has over 400 maps from all these eras, from a collection begun by his father and carried on by himself.