2006 – 2007 Meetings

Date: September 21, 2006
Title: Imagining Destiny: Cartography and Art on the American Frontier
Speaker: Mary Peterson Zundo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

A survey of frontier buffalo images by nineteenth-century American artists reveals a privileging of right to left movement, a peculiarly American tendency that runs counter to the preference for left to right visual scanning in European art. Mary Peterson Zundo will explore how these painters, who struggled to adapt aesthetic and intellectual modes of vision to their artistic constructions of an uncharted territory, were also largely informed by the ideologies of Manifest Destiny, the “divinely ordained” Euroamerican conquest of the North American continent, and a “golden age” of American cartography that effloresced in response to the most rapid westward expansion in U.S. history.

Date: October 19, 2006
Title: Mapping the New World for the Spanish Kings
Speaker: Barbara Mundy, Fordham University
Location: Alliance Français Auditorium, 54 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Ill.

On either side of the Atlantic, both Spaniards and Aztecs used maps for practical and symbolic purposes. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, the Spanish crown attempted to make its new global empire visible through maps. Barbara Mundy will explore how, in response to these imperial ambitions, maps made in sixteenth century Mexico show the transformation of indigenous mapping traditions, as new maps and new understandings of space were forged in the New World.

This event is co-sponsored by the Newberry Library’s Center for Public Programs. The Library’s exhibit, Aztecs and the Making of Colonial Mexico, runs from September 28, 2006 to January 13, 2007.

Date: November 16, 2006
Title: Members’ Show and Tell
Speakers: Members of the Chicago Map Society
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

The only requirement for membership in the Chicago Map Society is an interest in maps. For many of our members this interest is expressed through collections of rare items or of commonplace maps that have become embedded in American popular culture; cartographically-themed attire or collectibles; or through travel to places that were once easily accessible only through the maps, illustrations and descriptions in now-historic atlases. So bring your map and your story to share to our members’ show and tell.

Date: December 14, 2006
Title: Maps for Travelers in the United States to 1860
Speaker: Jim Akerman, Director, Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography, The Newberry Library
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

The United States is often called a nation on the move, and the country has been a prolific producer of railroad and automobile road maps. But what kinds of maps were produced for travelers before the age of the train and the automobile? Join us as Smith Center Director Jim Akerman attempts to answer this question. His richly illustrated survey of maps made for explorers, emigrants, pioneers, tourists, and other travelers is based on the Newberry’s extensive collection of nineteenth century travel guides and maps.

Date: January 23, 2007
Title: The French Maps of North America
Speaker: Gordon Sayre, University of Oregon
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

In the first half of the 18th century, French royal cartographers maintained that a large inland sea, the Mer de l’Ouest, connected North America to the Pacific, and would facilitate the development of trade with Asia. So long as France controlled the Mississippi Valley, it would control this trade route. Explorers did not dispel this notion until 1753, when French explorers published a story from a Yazoo Indian who had travelled to the Pacific Ocean without finding any Western Sea. Professor Sayre presents this case study of the dialectic between cartographers and explorers—the geographic desires and myths that shaped the image of western North America.

Date: February 15, 2007
Title: The Oxford Companion to World Exploration
Speakers: David Buisseret
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

David Buisseret, speaking on the occasion of the publication of the new Oxford Companion to World Exploration, will present to members of the Chicago Map Society a glittering variety of images from these volumes. Most of these images are from the collections of the Newberry Library.

A book signing will follow the presentation. The Companion is currently available for purchase from the Newberry’s A.C. McClurg Bookstore.

Date: March 15, 2007
Title: The Most Successful Map of All Time
Speaker: John Long, Newberry Library
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

John Long will show slides and talk briefly about the origin, evolution, and impact of what may be the most influential map of modern times—the London Underground Map—from its creation in 1931 to the present. The presentation will cover an analysis of the map and how it works, the fate of Harry Beck, its creator, and its standing in the world today.

Date: April 19, 2007
Title: Prairie du Chien’s ‘Frenchtown’ and Albert Coryer’s Map
Speaker: Lucy Murphy, Ohio State University – Newark
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

During the middle of the nineteenth century, the fur trade faded in the Midwest as Yankee and Western European farmers and entrepreneurs overwhelmed the old French, Canadian, and Creole Metis fur trade families. By the end of the century, many of these old families had moved away or assimilated into the new society, while others lived together in neighborhoods that were often called “Frenchtowns.” Albert Coryer, born in 1877, was 73 years old when he passed along his memories of the Frenchtown neighborhood in the important old fur trade town of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Fortunately for us, Coryer illustrated his stories with a delightful map of the old neighborhood. Professor Murphy will give an overview of the community’s history and share Coryer’s map and some of his stories.

Date: May 17, 2007
Title: Map Thieves I Have Known: E. Forbes Smiley and Others of His Ilk
Speaker: George Ritzlin, George Ritzlin Maps & Prints
Location: Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago

While the trade in antique maps is remarkably honest overall, inevitably there will be a few bad guys. George Ritzlin tells of his experience coping with the guys in black hats, with emphasis on E. Forbes Smiley III, who is now in prison for stealing maps from libraries.