In Memory

Louis De Vorsey

Louis Carpenter De Vorsey
April 6, 1929 - April 29, 2012

WMS member Louis De Vorsey of Athens, Georgia, passed away on April 29 after a brief illness. He received his bachelor's degree from Montclair State University, N.J., and his master's degree in geography from Indiana University. Upon graduation from Indiana University, he entered the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an ensign. He served in the Heavy Photographic Squadron of U.S. Navy in Japan, Thailand, Guam, and Alaska. Louis served in the Naval Reserves and retired as a commander in the U.S. Navy.

After retiring from active duty in the U.S. Navy, Louis attended Stockholm University in Sweden. He received his doctorate in historical geography from the University of London. It was in London that Louis met his wife, Rosalyn, and together they moved to North Carolina where he held teaching positions at East Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina before settling in Athens where he taught at the University of Georgia for 20 years until his retirement in 1987.

Louis's fascination with geography grew from his yearly trip to New Brunswick, Canada to stay with his grandparents on their farm. For Louis, observing the changes in the landscape from the bus as a boy, his journey was an opportunity to go back in time.

Louis published numerous books and essays in the field of historical geography. His doctoral dissertation led to the publication of The Indian Boundary in the Southern Colonies 1763-1775. His extensive research into the early cartography of the Gulf Stream was ongoing and his most recent paper, Thomas Jefferson and the Gulf Stream was accepted for publication shortly before this death. He enjoyed investigating the actual location of historically significant sites and found William Bartram's buffalo salt lick, an important landmark in colonial Georgia, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

Louis also brought the field of historical geography into the courtroom. He testified as an expert witness in a number of cases involving boundary line disputes including Georgia v. South Carolina, the United States v. Maine, and the United States v. Alaska. He was a consultant to the International Court of Justice in the United States Canada Seaward Boundary Delimitation.


Other than the Washington Map Society, he was a member of many map and discoveries societies.  He received the honor as Fellow of the Society of the History of Discoveries in 2005.  Read more about Lou’s many accomplishments by clicking here or .


Louis is survived by his wife, Rosalyn, and many other family members.