Latitudes Newsletter Oct 2017

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Map Society


October 2017


Pierre Tardieu Map, Territory of Columbia, 1819




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, 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 an established figure 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.




Thursday, December 7, 2017 – 5 PM – Madison Bldg – LoC:  Leslie Trager (WMS) 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.




Chet van Duzer, who is currently on an NEH-Mellon Fellowship at the Library of Congress, presentED 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 demonstrated how multispectral images have allowed researchers to conclude that Martin Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507 derived a great deal of information from Henricus Martellus' world map of 1491. Van Duzer showed numerous slides of the badly darkened Martellus map on which very little text was visible. After imaging it was clear that the earlier map had in fact been packed with text, much of which is used on the Waldseemuller map with little alteration. This is an exciting frontier which is only just beginning to open up. The talk and the slides are on the WMS web site accessible to members who have signed up to the site. (Tip: Open the video and the slides side-by-side on your computer monitor, so you can page through the slides as the talk progresses. The slides aren't easy to see on the video, but are really fascinating and integral to the presentation.)




The Old Map Gallery in the fine city of Denver, CO, posted this on their FaceBook page recently: “A great start to a Monday. In a season of many visitors from all over, a third grader won the day. Coming from out of state, his parents brought him in because he loves maps, studying and recreating them all the time. Favorite show? How the States Got Their Shapes. Bright kid with such a sharp memory. After a long visit, and with much more of Colorado to see, his parents prodded that they needed to ‘keep going’; he protested, ‘But this is where I belong!’” Youngest case of map fever reported to date.




Leigh Lockwood, our talented but eccentric web master, would like to call your attention to a feature hiding under the anodyne name of Member Map Sightings. The cognoscenti call it Maps in the Wild. By either name, we want members to take a photo of any map (or map-related, e.g., compass rose) that they see in an unconventional place.


They may be on post cards, wine labels, carved into marble, or wherever. Take a look at the web site to see what we mean.  There are a few guidelines to observe: (1) Be a registered member of this web site. (It’s free with your membership.) (2) Take picture with your own camera. (3) Supply a few words about the map or object. (4) Indicate where object is located or was seen. (5) Be pretty sure it was permitted to take the picture. (6) Email your photos and text to and he will do the rest.




The Society has a FaceBook page which is very active, with an average of five or six posts a day. These feature map postings from other parts of FB, news of speakers and events, new publications, cartographic oddities, etc. Two days ago, I was in a conversation with two other members, a Dutch map librarian and a Malaysian collector regarding some Dutch VOC charts of an area in Mozambique.  The fellow in Malaysia remarked, “Of course, what is truly glorious is how Bert in Washington, you in Leiden and myself in Kuala Lumpur, are having our own Triangular 'trade' conversation across the globe, in real time, and at absolutely zero cost. At no time in the 4.3 billion years of this Earth history was this ever possible. What comforts me is that despite episodic dark moments in human history, we continue to make progress.” Words worth thinking about.




More Than Just a Pretty Picture: Reading & Interpreting Maps of Virginia, Richmond, VA
4 November, 2017 @ 10:00 AM
This November 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 hands-on 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

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:

From the BBC comedy series Blackadder: “The foremost cartographers of the land have prepared this for you; it's a map of the area that you'll be traversing.” [Blackadder opens it up and sees it is blank] “They'll be very grateful if you could just fill it in as you go along.”



(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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