2007 – 2008 Meetings

Date: September 20, 2007
Title: “Ptolemy’s Geography and Renaissance Mapmakers,” “Mapping Manifest Destiny: Chicago and the American West,” and “Maps: Finding Our Place in the World”: A Trio of Exhibits
Speakers: James Akerman, Robert Karrow, and Diane Dillon, The Newberry Library
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

Later this fall, Chicago will be the center of the World of Maps. Help us celebrate with a preview of the Newberry’s fall exhibits, part of the Festival of Maps—an unprecedented collaboration of Chicago’s cultural and scientific institutions. Jim Akerman, Bob Karrow, and Diane Dillon will discuss the reception of Ptolemy’s Geography in the Renaissance, Chicago’s role in mapping the American West, and how they chose 130 of the world’s greatest maps for the “Maps” exhibition at the Field Museum.

Date: October 4, 2007
Title: The Oracles of Luzo-Brazilian Geography: D’Anville, Luís da Cunha and the Cartography of South America
Speaker: Junia Ferreira Furtado, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

In 1748, noted French geographer and cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D’Anville created an authoritative new map of South America without leaving Paris. He did so largely thanks to the original sources provided by Dom Luís da Cunha, a Portuguese diplomat. Speaker Junia Ferreira Furtado will discuss how da Cunha’s original sources informed the process of D’Anville’s mapmaking, how the map was received by the Portuguese administrative elite, and how the map figures within the context of cartographic knowledge in the Enlightenment.

Date: November 15, 2007
Title: A Mirror of England: Maps and English Mentalities, 1500-1620
Speaker: Peter Barber, The British Library
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Educated sixteenth-century Englishmen regarded maps with much the same wonder and enthusiasm that their twentieth-century counterparts did computers. They ensured that the maps that they commissioned, or even produced themselves, gave information about a wide variety of topics, far beyond the purely geographical. The maps helped them to understand their environment—and help us, today, to understand them, their problems, and their priorities.

Date: November 29, 2007
Title: The Cartography of Slavery and the Authority of Statistics
Speaker: Susan Schulten, Denver University
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Statistical cartography came relatively late to the United States. One of the first American examples of this genre is a map of slavery published in 1861 that was of special interest to Lincoln during the war. What does this map tell us about the secession crisis, contemporary understandings of the war, and the organization of information? The slavery map is both a product of change—in terms of cartographic techniques, the development of the census, and the secession crisis—but also an example of the power maps have to shape decision-making and our understanding of reality.

Date: December 12, 2007
Title: Maps and Diagrams: The Golden Age of Statistical Graphics
Speaker: Michael Friendly, York University
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Statistical graphics and data visualization have long histories, but their modern forms began only in the early 1800s. Between 1840 and 1910, there occurred an explosive growth in both the general use of graphic methods and the range of topics to which they were applied. Innovations were prodigious and some of the most exquisite graphics ever produced appeared, resulting in what Professor Friendly calls “The Golden Age of Statistical Graphics.”

Since there will be three public lectures at the Newberry devoted to cartography in January, we will not have our usual third Thursday meeting this month. January’s Newberry lectures, detailed below, are supported in part by the Geographic Society of Chicago. There will be a continental breakfast for Map Society members only in Towner Fellow’s Lounge on January 12th at 10 A.M. (just preceding Ricardo Padrón’s lecture).

Date: January 12, 2008
Title: The Spacious Word: Cartography, Literature, and Empire
Speaker: Ricardo Padrón, University of Virginia
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Cartography, the science of making accurate maps, was still in its infancy during the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. This meant that one of the great historical endeavors of that period — the discovery and conquest of the Americas by Spain — was carried out using “maps” that were more often verbal than pictorial. Padrón identifies cartographic sensibilities within sixteenth-century epic poems, explorers’ travel accounts, and other literary texts and demonstrates how these verbal maps are better understood as extensions of medieval than as modern ways of conceptualizing and representing space.

Date: January 19, 2008
Title: Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth
Speakers: Allesandro Scafi, The Warburg Institute, London
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

When early Christians adopted the Hebrew Bible with its story of Genesis, the Garden of Eden became for them a paradise on earth, situated in real geography and indicated on maps. In “Mapping Paradise,” Alessandro Scafi explores medieval intellectual conditions that made mapping paradise possible. He also accounts for the transformations in theological doctrine and cartographic practice that eroded belief in a terrestrial paradise and led to historical and regional mapping of the Garden of Eden, beginning in the Reformation and continuing today.

Date: January 26, 2008
Title: The Art of Mapping the Heart
Speaker: Ruth Watson, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library

Ruth Watson is a New Zealand/Australian artist and a prizewinning scholar in historical geography. For more than fifteen years, her art has focused on how maps construct our ideas of the globe. In an illustrated talk, she will discuss how she has used salt, images of her tongue, and other unconventional media to create works of art based on the cordiform, a heart-shaped projection of the globe developed in the sixteenth century.

We will have no meetings in February or March; instead, members are encouraged to attend the Winter-Spring program at the Chicago Cultural Center entitled Mapping Today. A description of the program follows below:

The basic concepts of mapping haven’t changed since the time of Ptolemy, but the tools have. Aerial photography, GPS satellites, and computers and internet tools such as Google Maps make it easier than ever for professionals to make accurate maps, for travelers to navigate far-flung places, and for ordinary folks to produce their own maps of obscure or overlooked topics. This series of four lectures looks at the challenges and the fun of mapmaking today. All lectures are free and open to the public; they begin at 6 P.M. in the Garland Rooms of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington.

February 6, 2008: Adrian Holovaty of everyblock.com, discussing Google Maps mashups and hyperlocal mapping.

February 20, 2008: Christine Bosacki of Nystrom, discussing maps and globes in the classroom.

March 12, 2008: Peter Haas of Center for Neighborhood Technology, discussing geographic information systems and how they can aid community groups.

March 26, 2008: Dennis McClendon of Chicago CartoGraphics, discussing the challenges of making and checking ordinary street maps.

Date: April 17, 2008
Title: Mapping the World from Jacksonville, Illinois: The Cartographic Career of Henry C. Tunison
Speaker: John Power III
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry Library

London had George Philip, Edinburgh had Bartholomew, and Chicago had Rand McNally and Cram, but although they may have been the largest publishers of general atlases at the turn of the last century, they did have competitors, sometimes in very unlikely places. Home to two colleges (including the first in the state to grant a degree) and to three state institutions, the downstate city of Jacksonville has a long and colorful history, though few know about its role as a cartographic capitol. John Power, historian, assiduous map collector, and publisher of the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, will introduce us to the life and maps of Henry C. Tunison, who took on the big guys from his home in Morgan County, Illinois.

Date: May 15, 2008
Title: Mapping Sailboat Races in Real Time
Speaker: Kim Flagstad, President, FIS Tracking Services
Location: Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago

While sailboat races are adrenaline-producing occasions for the crew, for interested parties ashore, those hours are about as exciting as watching paint dry. Once a boat disappears over the horizon, friends, family, and spectators are effectively in the dark until the boat comes in sight of the finish, hundreds of miles away. Now, through an exciting new application of GPS and web-based tracking displays, it is possible for folks on shore to view an entire race in real time. FIS Tracking Services, LLC, of Rolling Meadows developed the “Flash Tracker” race tracking system which has been used to map the Chicago-Mackinac races since 2005. Other world-class races followed by “Flash Tracker” include the 2007 TransPac, a race from Long Beach to Honolulu, one of the top three long distance races in the world. Kim Flagstad, the President of FIS Tracking Services, will explain the underlying tracking technology and demonstrate the kinds of animated maps produced.

Date: June 7, 2008
Title: Vegetation of the Chicago Region as Mapped by the Public Land Survey
Speaker: Jeanette McBride
Location: Field Trip to the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL

In the early 1800s the U.S. Government Land Office directed the Public Land Survey (PLS) to divide the nation’s land into townships and sections in anticipation of advancing European settlement. Surveyors laying out the grid system noted changes in vegetation and listed the woody species present along section lines. The PLS also required surveyors to blaze one to four “bearing” trees at section and quarter section corners, where available. Using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology, we have reconstructed the vegetation as described by these historic notes for seven Chicago region counties. Information gleaned from the PLS offers land managers examples of the distribution of native vegetation types as they existed prior to the disruption of landscape processes that coincided with European settlement. Jenny McBride, a researcher on this Arboretum project, will explain the procedures and present some of the resulting maps. Following the meeting, Map Society members and their guests may wish to have lunch at the Ginko Café and explore some of the more than 4,000 kinds of trees scattered around its 1,700 acres.