Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

June 14, 1995

Philip Lee Phillips Society Created by Library's Geography and Map Division

The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress recently established the Philip Lee Phillips Society to serve as an auxiliary fund-raising organization to develop, enhance, and promote the historical collections of the Geography and Map Division. The goals of the society are to stimulate public interest; encourage financial donations to supplement appropriated funds for the acquisition of rare maps; facilitate gifts and bequests of significant geographic and cartographic materials; and advance the division's publication, education, and exhibition programs.

A steering committee has been formed to develop appropriate strategies to direct this effort. The inaugural meeting on April 10 was chaired by Kenneth Nebenzahl and Eric Wolf, longtime supporters of the Geography and Map Division. It was attended by a group of 15 invited participants who represented a variety of interests -- map collecting, map production, map sales, and the academic disciplines of geography, historical geography, cartography, and the history of cartography.

Membership in the Society will be based on a primary donation of $50 per year, with higher levels of giving also designated. Membership benefits include a semiannual newsletter describing current acquisitions, publications, forthcoming Library events, and activities of regional map societies; an annual dinner and lecture held in the Library of Congress in association with a locally sponsored map fair or map auction; special invitations to exhibition openings sponsored and hosted by the Geography and Map Division; invitations to map symposia and workshops of interest to Society members; guest lectures provided by Division specialists to organizations with which Society members are affiliated; and workshops that provide opportunities for working with specialists in map preservation, map cataloging, and cartographic research.

The Society is named in honor of the first chief of the Geography and Map Division, Philip Lee Phillips. Although maps, charts, and atlases have been part of the Library of Congress collections since its founding in 1800, Phillips was the first to recognize the value of the Library's cartographic materials and to organize and care for them. Even before being named the first Superintendent of Maps when the Hall of Maps and Charts was established in 1897, he devoted what time he could to the map and atlas collections that were stored in odd corners of the Capitol, sorting, arranging, cataloging, and serving requested items to congressional and other readers.

A collector's collector, Phillips personally acquired many of the treasures of today's collection on trips made to Europe at his own expense. He was also a pioneer in publicizing the Library's cartographic riches in publications to which he devoted much energy and which today still stand as landmarks in the field of cartobibliography. As early as 1878, Phillips began creating a manuscript catalog of American maps that eventually culminated in his landmark publication, "List of Maps of America in the Library of Congress", published in 1901. This work was followed by another significant cartobibliography, "A List of Geographical Atlases in the Library of Congress", published in four volumes between 1901 and 1920; five additional volumes were completed by Clara Egli LeGear (1958-1992).

Today, the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress is the nation's premier map collector. Its collection, which dates from the 1300s to the present and is worldwide in coverage, includes 4.5 million maps, 60,000 atlases, 1 million microform maps, 500 globes, and 2,000 spatial digital data sets. In anticipating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Division, it is fitting that the friends of the Geography and Map Division organize under the name of the Philip Lee Phillips Society.

Membership is open to anyone interested in supporting the goals of the Society. To apply for membership or to obtain further information, contact Ralph E. Ehrenberg, Chief, or Ronald E. Grim, Specialist in Cartographic History and Executive Secretary, Philip Lee Phillips Society, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4760 or call (202) 707-8532; fax (202) 707-8531.

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PR 95-070
6/14/95
ISSN 0731-3527

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