April 22, 2009 John Hessler Will Discuss Martin Waldseemüller's 1513 Map of the Upper Rhine Valley

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: John Hessler (202) 707-7223

As a prelude to “Exploring Waldseemüller’s World,” an international symposium at the Library of Congress on May 14 and 15, John Hessler will discuss one of Martin Waldseemüller’s other cartographic creations – the 1513 Map of the Upper Rhine.

Hessler, a senior reference librarian in the Library’s Geography and Map Division and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, will present “Surveying the Renaissance: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1513 Map of the Upper Rhine Valley” at noon on Wednesday, May 6, in the Geography and Map Division Reading Room on the basement level of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Library’s Geography and Map Division, the event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed. The lecture is part of an ongoing series called “Map Talk.”

For more than a century, it has been thought that Waldseemüller himself surveyed the region portrayed in the 1513 Map of the Upper Rhine. But recent research by Hessler has cast doubts on this accepted notion.

“By showing that Waldseemüller actually copied several texts on surveying from 13th-century sources and then claimed authorship for them, I call into question many of Waldseemüller’s claims regarding his large scale map of the Rhine Valley,” said Hessler.

In addition, Hessler will discuss Waldseemüller’s 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s “Geographia,” in which the Rhine Map is found, and the origin of the medieval manuscript fragments found in the binding of the Geography and Map Division’s copy.

On May 14 and May 15, prominent scholars will gather at the Library of Congress to examine Martin Waldseemüller’s cartographic vision and to reflect on the philosophical and historical context of the production and reception of his famous 1507 World Map. The symposium, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 14, and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15, will be held in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.3 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The Library’s map collections contain coverage for every country and subject, and include the works of all the famous map-makers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius and Blaeu. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with nearly 142 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. As the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, the Library is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which this nation was founded. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov.


PR 09-084
ISSN 0731-3527