Newsletter 1997

In this issue, look for an update on Volume Two, Book Three, a report on the status of Volume Three, and news from the Volume Six planning conference. We’re excited to be working on these volumes concurrently and look forward to making the remaining volumes of the History available as quickly as our high standards will allow.

Volume 2.3 Update

Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies, edited by David Woodward and G. Malcolm Lewis, will be published in Fall 1998. With the Press now working on page layout, we have turned our attention to the indexes. The estimated number of pages is 600, with 201 line illustrations, 258 half-tone photographs, and 24 color plates.

Volume Two, Book Three, will have a special forum for discussion at the Social Science History Association meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago (19-22 November 1998). A panel on indigenous cartography has been organized by Anne Knowles (Mellon Fellow in Geography, Political Science Department, Wellesley College). Papers will be presented by History authors Tom Bassett, William Gartner, Eric Silverman, and Neil Whitehead. Tom Hall will act as forum commentator; David Woodward will chair the session. For further information or to register, contact Anne Knowles at (781) 283-3494 or

Volume 3 News

Work has intensified on Volume Three, Cartography in the European Renaissance. Many contracted and potential authors attended the 17th International Conference on the History of Cartography in Lisbon last July, and David Woodward used that opportunity to continue discussions about the volume.

In our current working outline, Cartography in the European Renaissance begins with an introduction and a series of thematic chapters that will explore the general causes of the spectacular changes in mapmaking between the medieval and modern worlds. These included the expansion of European trade and the concomitant technical improvements in navigation, the development of the need for rational measurement, projections, and world coordinate systems, and new military needs based on changing technical requirements of warfare. As maps became part of everyday life, the commercial trade in maps for scholarly and popular markets relied on structural changes in the printing and publishing industry.  Chapters on Renaissance cosmography and celestial cartography follow, along with a section on globe making and use in the period.

A large part of the volume is devoted to three major themes: (1) European national traditions of mapping (Italy, Germany, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, France, the British Isles, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, and Russia), (2) nautical charting in the Mediterranean and by the Dutch, French, English, Portuguese, and Spanish, and (3) maps in the service of overseas exploration, trade, and settlement by the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Within these three sections there will be thematic essays that will compare and consolidate the trends documented in the individual national chapters and reveal broader cultural themes, such as the role of maps in town planning, rural land management, literature, and the fine arts. As with previous volumes, there will be copious appendixes and reference aids for the study of maps of the period.

In January, we are interviewing finalists for a postdoctoral position to help with the editing and writing of Volume Three.  The response to our search was most encouraging, and we hope that the funding (a proposal for which is pending) will be forthcoming.

Volume 6 News (by Mark Monmonier)

Mark Monmonier is coeditor of Volume Six in the History of Cartography series. Currently Professor of Geography at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Dr. Monmonier has recently received much acclaim for his 1997 book, Cartographies of Danger: Mapping Hazards in America. Here, he offers his perspective on the Volume Six planning conference.
  Cramming the history of cartography of the twentieth century into fifteen hundred pages seems a daunting task, but that is what David Woodward and I intend to do as coeditors of Volume Six. To help us cope with the period's complexity, we invited thirty-four scholars, practitioners, and institutional sponsors to join us in Washington, D.C., in early October for a three-day conference on "Issues and Events in Twentieth- Century Cartography." 

David and I selected meeting participants carefully to sample a broad range of expertise and viewpoints. Although language and travel costs limited our geographic reach, we included scholars from Canada (2), the Netherlands (1), and the United Kingdom (3). 

Like most participants, I arrived Thursday afternoon—hours after Project staff from Madison worked out last-minute details with our generous host, the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress. That evening, the Division held a welcoming reception, which featured noteworthy twentieth-century maps and a demonstration of its Digital Project. The extensive Reading Room collection was also open to conference-goers later during the weekend.

The real work began Friday morning. David presented an overview of the Project’s history and accomplishments, and I outlined the conference’s four goals: refining the table of contents, identifying possible contributors, listing key themes, and gathering suggestions on strategy and approach. We then divided the participants into three small groups, each of which addressed a specific topic for an hour and a half before reporting its findings in a one-hour plenary session. The conference followed a similar format on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday morning. Following a late-morning wrap-up session, we adjourned to a working lunch for additional conversation. Did we accomplish our goals? Most certainly. Although planning will continue throughout next year, we have a clear idea of where we’re headed and the paths available. As Volume Six moves ahead, we’ll remain indebted to our guests for their suggestions and insights and to the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funded their travel and accommodations.


David Woodward's News

In 1997, editor David Woodward divided his time, as always, between many responsibilities. He was delighted, however, to begin a half-time appointment at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Research in the Humanities. This five-year fellowship, which began in September, specifically supports his research and editorial work on Volume Three of the History. Moreover, as a senior member of the Institute, Dr. Woodward has the opportunity to meet and interact with scholars in a wide variety of disciplines. This interaction can only benefit the Project’s broad, humanistic approach to map history.

Dr. Woodward's outreach responsibilities this year led him to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and St. Hugh's College, Oxford, UK, as well as to the recording studio of Wisconsin Public Radio. Imminent publications include "Roger Bacon on Geography and Cartography," with Herbert M. Howe, in Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays 1996, and "Indigenous African Cartography in the Context of the History of Cartography of Traditional Societies," (in Italian), in La cultura dell’alterità: il territorio africano e le sue rappresentazioni.

Other Staff News

In September 1997, we welcomed Jason Martin, our newest project assistant, to the History team. Jason is a Geography graduate student with special interest in the history of cartography. He joins our two other project assistants, Margo Kleinfeld and Kristen Overbeck, and will work with manuscripts and check references for Volume Three. We also welcomed Samir Murty, the recipient of an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates grant for the 1997-98 academic year, who is working on ways in which hand coloring on Renaissance maps can be systematically studied.

Funding News

NEH is currently considering our proposal for matching funds from 1 July 1998 through 30 June 1999. We plan to operate mainly from NSF funds during those twelve months, using private contributions and NEH matching to fund a postdoctoral researcher for Volume Three. The generosity of the individuals listed below has made this arrangement possible. In these tight fiscal times, federal funders seem most inclined to finance projects that can guarantee strong public sponsorship. Many thanks to all who have demonstrated that support.

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