2005 – 2006 Meetings

Date: September 22, 2005
Title: Marquette Myths
Speaker: Carl J. Weber, DeVry University
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

The 1673 Marquette–Jolliet Mississippi expedition of discovery endures as documented truth. In the 1920s and in 1960, although falling on deaf ears, formidable challenges to the Marquette-Jolliet story arose. They were based on allegations of fabricated documents said to have been concocted in the 1670s and 1850s. Today, scholars of the highest repute do indeed admit that the legitimacy of certain documents can no longer be sustained. However, as a historical “smoking gun,” the Marquette Autograph map, “drawn in his own hand,” is preserved by scholars as adequate to confirm the historicity of the expedition. Mr. Weber, through comparative historical cartographic analysis, claims his evidence, prima facie, shows that Marquette’s Autograph map could not have been drawn before 1813. If true, the motives and implications of these findings are sure to stir up a historical hornet’s nest.

Date: October 20, 2005
Title: Across the Wide Missouri: Maps of the Indian Country Before Lewis and Clark
Speaker: W. Raymond Wood, University of Missouri
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Mapping the Missouri began, not with Lewis and Clark in 1803, but in 1714 with the expedition of Etienne Vèniard de Bourgmont. In fact, the river remained poorly known by Europeans and Americans until 1797, when the Spanish expedition led by James Mackay and John Thomas Evans returned to St. Louis. Seven years later, their charts provided detailed maps for the first full year of the Corps of Discovery’s journey. The extent of these early maps’ dependence on Indian informants is not known, but Native American charts, though created with different frames of reference, showed vast areas of the Louisiana Purchase with great accuracy.

This event is co-sponsored by the Newberry Library’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and Center for Public Programs.

Date: November 10, 2005
Title: Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark
Speaker: Ralph Ehrenberg
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

One of Thomas Jefferson’s major objectives in sending the Corps of Discovery on this epic adventure was to map the vast region acquired through the Louisiana Purchase. Ralph Ehrenberg, an internationally recognized authority on the history of cartography, has directed two of the most important map collections in the world at the Library of Congress and the National Archives. In an illustrated talk, he will describe Lewis and Clark’s preparation and training, their knowledge of the Trans-Mississippi West on the eve of the expedition, their surveying and mapping techniques, and the role of maps prepared by Indians and fur traders. Finally, he will discuss the preparation and printing of the published maps associated with the expedition, focusing on a number of historical maps on display in the Newberry’s current exhibit, Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country, including a manuscript map prepared shortly after the return of the expedition.

Date: December 8, 2005
Title: Chicago in Maps: 1612-2002
Speaker: Robert A. Holland
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Author Robert Holland will speak about his forthcoming book titled Chicago in Maps: 1612-2002. Holland, a former Professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University, is a long-time Chicago resident and avid and well-known map collector. A question and answer session and book signing will follow the talk.

Date: January 19, 2006
Title: The Louisiana Maps of Dumont de Montigny
Speaker: Carla Zecher, Director, Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

Jean François Benjamin Dumont de Montigny was a French soldier who spent nearly two decades in Louisiana during the 1720s and 30s. After his return to France, he wrote a memoir in which he recounted his travels. Included in the memoir are Dumont’s own hand-drawn, colored maps of various sites in the Caribbean, along the Gulf Coast, and in the Mississippi valley. In an illustrated talk, Zecher will describe Dumont’s memoir, which has survived in a manuscript in the Newberry collections, and she will trace the evolution of the Louisiana colony and of Dumont’s mapmaking by comparing the maps in the Newberry manuscript with other maps known to have been drawn by Dumont, and which are preserved in collections in the U.S. and France.

Date: February 16, 2006
Title: 30th Anniversary Celebration and Members’ Night
Speakers: Members of the Chicago Map Society
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

Please join us for an evening thirty years in the making! To commemorate the first meeting of the Chicago Map Society in February 1976 we invite members to share pieces from their own collections and tales of adventures in collecting at the Society’s annual Members’ Night. Other commemorative activities planned include recognition of the Society’s charter members.

Date: March 16, 2006
Title: Mapping the Cause of the Chicago Fire
Speaker: Richard F. Bales, Assistant Regional Counsel, Chicago Title Insurance Company
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

Chicago caught fire on the evening of 8 October 1871. Even while the city was still burning, Mrs. O’Leary and her cow were being blamed for starting the fire that ravaged more than two thousand acres in the city. But a few things that did not burn were the plats and other land records of the various abstract companies that eventually became Chicago Title Insurance Company. More than one hundred years later, Dick Bales used these records to reconstruct on paper the 1871 neighborhood of Mrs. O’Leary. In his analysis of the neighborhood and the transcript of an 1871 investigation into the cause of the fire, Bales uncovered discrepancies in the sworn testimony set forth in the transcript. He also identified the person who he feels did cause the fire.

Date: March 30, 2006
Title: L. A. Zagoskin’s Expedition to the Interior of Alaska, 1842-1844
Speaker: Alexei V. Postnikov, Institute of the History of Science and Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

The coast of Alaska was first sighted by Alexei Chirikof, with Vitus Bering’s expedition, in 1741. By the end of the century, the Russian America Company had been formed to encourage trade and colonization. Lavrenty Zagoskin, a naval officer, was given a two year assignment to conduct a reconnaissance of the region to help determine the most profitable and convenient sites for forts and trading posts. In 1842 and 1843, he traveled extensively on the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Innoko and Koyukuk Rivers, traveling over 3300 miles. Zagoskin made a series of remarkable maps, and also kept complete and accurate journals with details about the native people, their customs, language, and environment. Dr. Postnikov, the foremost expert on the Russian mapping of Alaska, will introduce us to this important explorer.

Date: May 23, 2006
Title: Mapping Initiatives at the EVL
Speaker: Andy Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago
Location: Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) is an interdisciplinary graduate research laboratory that combines art and computer science, specializing in advanced visualization and networking technologies. The laboratory is a joint effort of UIC’s College of Engineering and The School of Art & Design representing the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the country, offering graduate degrees in electronic visualization (MFA, MS, PhD). Dr. Johnson will introduce us to the exciting cartographic possibilities of EVL, including LambdaVision, which serves up to 60 trillion bytes of U.S. urban city map data to distributed 100-megapixel displays; Walkabout, which allows you to load in geo-referenced terrains to walk on, and then drape various textures over those landscapes; and the Geowall, which makes use of projection systems to visualize structure and dynamics of the Earth in stereo. Join us for this exclusive introduction to cutting-edge cartography.

Date: June 15, 2006
Title: The Interior and the Insular: The National Map, 1898, and the Cartographic Imagination
Speaker: Scott Kirsch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

Dr. Kirsch’s research examines the intersection of science, cartography and government in the U.S. and colonial Philippines during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His talk will explore the territoriality of government science and mapping projects, as well as public debates over the need for a “national map” in the U.S. during the 1880s, all in an attempt to raise questions about the meaning of national territory in what came to be seen, after 1898, as a new, planetary world.