Upcoming Events

The Chicago Map Society typically meets at The Newberry on the third Thursday of every month during the academic year (September through May). Meetings start at 5:30 p.m. with a social half-hour, followed by an hour presentation on a cartographic subject of interest to our membership. Our meetings are open to the public, but to help defray expenses, non-members are asked for a small donation at the door. If you are unfamiliar with The Newberry, which is located on the near northside of Chicago, here are directions.

The list below details the upcoming meetings of the Chicago Map Society, as well as an occasional event that is of especial importance to our membership. John Docktor maintains calendars of map society meetings and cartographic exhibitions worldwide, both of which are available at Cartographic Calendars. In addition, the Washington Map Society publishes the meeting schedules for a number of North American map societies. For information on the events held by Wisconsin Map Society, our sister organization ninety miles to the north, please visit their website by clicking here.

Upcoming Meetings of the Chicago Map Society

Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017 5:30 PM
Title: The Rockford Map Company: County Plat Books for the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Speaker: Charlie Lunn and Brock Alekna
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

Most of us have had some experience with county plat books, a genre of atlas that had its beginnings in the 1850s and became ubiquitous in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Plat books, which show the boundaries and ownership of rural property, are an essential tool for realtors and developers, and have proven their value as historical records for genealogists and local historians. Anyone who grew up on a farm in the twentieth century knows that the plat book persisted, not as a large leather-bound folio, but as a more modest booklet of maps, stapled or spiral-bound, and for many of us, the name on the cover was “Rockford Map Publishers.”

Founded in 1944 by J. Q. Cummings in the basement of his home, Rockford Map Publishers began as a farm plat book company with all of the maps painstakingly researched, hand drawn and published by the founder himself. Rockford Map owns the largest and most comprehensive plat information record of its kind in the country and is recognized as a pioneer and industry leader. What started as rural farm mapping has now grown to include digital map products, custom mapping services and spatial parcel data throughout the United States. Senior Vice President Charlie Lunn and Marketing Manager Brock Alekna will give us a guided tour of the history and work of this venerable Illinois map publisher.

Date: Thursday, December 21, 2017 5:30 PM
Title: Annual Holiday Gala and Members’ Show-and-Tell
Speaker: Members of the Chicago Map Society
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

Join us for our annual Holiday Gala, which will feature an especially full smorgasbord of holiday treats for your dining and drinking pleasure. We will also continue our tradition of pairing this party with our “Members’ Night” that allows members to display and speak about a special item in their personal collections. In the past, we’ve enjoyed hearing about maps, atlases, globes, and “cartifacts”—old, new, borrowed, and blue (yes, we have seen blueprints). You will be given five minutes to talk about your item, will be able to display it on an easel or table, and can use our projector if that will help.

We will also have a silent auction of any items that you may wish to donate to the Society—the full value of which is tax-deductible! To help us assemble our program, please email us at contact@chicagomapsociety.org by December 19 with details about your item.

Date: Thursday, January 4, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: The Life and Work of Jo Mora
Speaker: Peter Hiller
Location: Towner Fellows Lounge, The Newberry

The members of the Chicago Map Society and the Caxton Club are pleased to present a special evening with Peter Hiller, who will share with us the life of Jo Mora, along with a very interesting Mora connection to The Newberry Library.

Peter has been enamored, if not obsessed, with Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora (1876-1947) since he came upon his cartes (maps) in the mid-1990s—to the extent of having recently written an extensive biography about Jo currently published by the Book Club of California. Hiller’s immediate intrigue arose from his amazement at Jo Mora’s creative versatility and the outstanding quality of Mora’s artistic efforts. From pictorial maps, book illustrations, paintings, sculptures, printmaking and writing, Mora’s artistic talents were boundless. After growing up on the east coast, Mora ventured west to explore what he considered to be the changing west of the cowboys and Indians he was so fascinated with as a child. It was at this time that he passed through Chicago and would later make connections, the evidence from which remain in Chicago, and will come to light during this presentation. Jo’s later life centered around the history of California, his family and his abounding creative abilities that enabled him to provide food, clothing and shelter for them.

Now retired, Peter taught art and photography to children and occasionally adults, for almost forty years, most of which were in Carmel, Calif., where he lives with his wife and their two boys who grew up with them before they flew the coop. Peter was born up the road in Evanston but he was whisked away to Los Angeles at the young age of two. Fortunately, his grandparents and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins remained on the North Shore so Peter visited Chicago often enough to fall in love with the Museum of Science & Industry, the Art Institute and Nellie Fox—yes, Peter crossed the city divide and remains a White Sox (and Bear) fan to this day, satisfied with having witnessed both teams win a championship during his lifetime.

Currently in Chicago for a family wedding, it is Hiller’s pleasure to share the life of Jo Mora, with members of The Caxton Club and the Chicago Map Society.

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: Beyond Google Maps: Map Usage in the 21st Century
Speaker: Dennis McClendon
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

Google Maps is not the only way to navigate the modern world—even on your phone. Cartographer Dennis McClendon will present a variety of other online resources—some worldwide reference maps, some on specialized themes—to make us informed travelers and hometown explorers.

Date: February 2 – 4, 2018
Title: Miami International Map Fair
Speaker: Chet Van Duzer, Neal Asbury
Location: HistoryMiami Museum, Miami, Fla.

Looking for a chance to get away from Chicago’s winter weather? Check out the Miami International Map Fair at this website.

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: Land Surveying and Mapmaking Transformed
Speaker: Carl Kupfer
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

The science and art of land surveying, which started with rudimentary instruments, techniques, and hand-drawn paper plats and maps, has evolved into a realm and creation of highly accurate and virtually automated data platforms that rely on satellites for three-dimensional spatial positioning, interact with geographical information systems (GIS), generate digital data and mapping products, and alas, can spit out paper maps and charts on demand.

Mr Kupfer will review the fascinating history of surveying from earliest times to the present, presenting examples of unusual surveys, instruments, techniques, and methods used to produce the end-product documents. He will then discuss surveying and mapping in the twenty-first century, and explain how the science of geographical information management in the digital age has transformed the fields of land surveying and classic cartography.

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: Treasures from the Archives of Greeley-Howard-Norlin & Smith
Speaker: Don & Tanya Smith
Location: Towner Fellows’ Lounge, The Newberry

Established in 1854 by Samuel Greeley, Greeley-Howard-Norlin & Smith (GHNS) is the oldest land surveying business in the Chicago metropolitan area. Located in Flossmoor, Ill., the firm’s surveyors have walked virtually every block in Chicago and a good number of suburban properties as well.  And, in its over one-hundred-sixty years in business, GHNS has accumulated an extensive archive that includes 250,000 plats of surveys, over 10,000 copies of plats of recorded subdivisions, and thousands of pages of other survey-related documents and maps. In fact, GHNS has survey plats of Chicagoland from before the Great Chicago Fire, including a number of plats and maps connected to the legal work of an Illinois attorney by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Please join us as the firm’s owners take us on a tour of what is likely the most complete archive of the Chicago metropolitan area in existence today.

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:30 PM
Title:  Mapping the Amazon at the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century: The Contribution of the Franciscan Order
Speaker:  Carme Montaner
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

Carmé Montaner’s talk will address the first detailed maps of the hydrographic network of the Amazon River made by the Franciscans of the Ocopa College in Peru.  Dr. Montaner will also discuss the implementation of the hydrographic network in the general maps of South America that were published at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Date: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: Book Party celebrating the publication of Neighborhoods
Speaker: Emily Talen
Location: Ruggles Hall, The Newberry

This book is written in support of those who believe that neighborhoods are, or should be, genuinely relevant in our lives not as casual descriptors of geographic location, but as places that, in contrast to the ambiguous complexity of cities and sprawl, provide an essential context for daily life. Such neighborhoods would be identifiable, serviced, diverse, and connected; their primary purpose would not be social separation. The book is motivated by an awareness that not everyone is content with the neighborhoods current status hovering between valentine and social separator. Might it be possible to constitute neighborhoods that are more than a label, that reject segregation, and that are not hopelessly anachronous? Can the neighborhood be thought of as being more than a shaded area on a map, more than a 1920s era neighborhood diagram, and more than a handful of people living on the same street? Is it possible to re-instate some version of the historical neighborhood as something real and meaningful in 21st century urban experience?

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018 5:30 PM
Title: Annual Field Trip to the Barry MacLean Collection
Speaker: TBA
Location: The Barry MacLean Collection, Green Oaks, Ill.

Description forthcoming.