April 15, 2014 Library of Congress Holds Conference May 15-16 On the History of 20th Century Cartography and Beyond

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: John Hessler (202) 707-7223,
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ada@loc.gov.

Society, more and more, has moved away from traditional, static, paper maps and entered a dynamic, computer-based cartographic era. Scholars will gather at the Library of Congress to look back at the long history of cartography in the 20th century and glance at what is coming in the future.

The conference, “From Terra to Terabytes: The History of 20th-Century Cartography and Beyond,” will take place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, and from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, May 16, in the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. It is free and open to the public, but reservations are needed. Contact specialevents@loc.gov or call 202-707-1616.

The event is the annual conference of the Philip Lee Phillips Map Society of the Library of Congress, which was established in 1995 as an association of collectors, geographers, historians and map enthusiasts, with a shared interest in supporting the programs and activities of the Library’s Geography and Map Division. The conference is sponsored by the Phillips Society and the Geography and Map Division.

In conjunction with the conference, an open house and tours of the Geography and Map Division will be held on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to noon. The open house and tours are free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are needed.

Mark Monmonier, professor of geography at Syracuse University, and Douglas Richardson, executive director of the Association of American Geographers, will be keynote speakers. They will present a sweeping view of the field, as it went from traditional methods of surveying in early years to remote-sensing and computer cartography of more recent years. They will also discuss the future of cartography.

The conference will be divided into the following sessions: Popular Cartography, and Military and Intelligence Cartography on Thursday, May 15; and Scientific Cartography, and The Future of Cartography and Geodesign on Friday, May 16.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, May 15

9 a.m.
Opening Remarks

9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The 20th Century as an Era in Map History: Tipping Point or Merely Distinctive?
Keynote Speaker Mark Monmonier

The period from 1900 to 2000 is map history’s most distinctive era. Technological advances during the 20th century inspired new modes of mapping practice: overhead imaging/dynamic cartography and academic cartography.

10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Session 1: Popular Cartography

Picturing the World: American Pictorial Maps, 1920-1960
Stephen Hornsby, University of Maine

From the 1920s to the 1960s, American popular culture and commercial mapmaking intersected to produce a remarkably creative period in the history of Western cartography. Compared with the United States, no other country produced the quantity, quality and variety of pictorial maps.

Road Mapping on the Margins
James Akerman, Newberry Library

The free automobile road map was among the most iconic and widely distributed genres of 20th-century cartography, produced by oil companies, automobile clubs or state authorities. At the margins of the road-map mainstream is an archive of road maps published by county and municipal authorities, roadside attractions and other local economic interests.

Follow Your Flight: A History of Airline Passenger Mapping
Ralph Ehrenberg, Library of Congress

Major airlines once provided their passengers with complimentary airline route maps, which served as souvenirs of their flights. Initially produced in the form of simple route mats in the 1920s, airline souvenir maps became increasingly complex in response to the introduction of high-performance aircraft after World War II, the establishment of national and international airway infrastructures, and the development of airborne electronics and global positioning systems.

12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Session 2: Military and Intelligence Cartography

The Missing Decade of Remote-Sensing History: CORONA and the Late 20th Century
Keith Clarke, University of California, Santa Barbara

The CORONA program and its successors mapped much of the world using remote-sensing technology, well before 1972 when Landsat 1 made remote sensing better known. Using a film return system and a scanning stereo panchromatic camera, CORONA was capable of high geodetic fidelity and high-resolution imagery. The program revolutionized mapping.

The Rhetorical Lives of Cold War Maps
Timothy Barney, University of Richmond

With America’s emergence as an international superpower after World War II, maps provided the strategic and ideological ground by which the ensuing Cold War would be fought. The presentation traces how Cold War maps lived “rhetorical lives” in their processes of production and reception—designed through the collaborative practices of government, mass media, scientific agencies and civic organizations, and serving the purposes of a host of different audiences over the course of their circulations.

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Reception in Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building

Friday, May 16

9:15 a.m.
Opening Remarks

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Session 1: Scientific Cartography

The Tip of the Iceberg: Marie Tharp and Women in Mapping in the Mid-20th Century
Judith A. Tyner, California State University

Marie Tharp, who in partnership with Brue Heezen mapped the Earth’s entire ocean floor, is probably the best known female cartographer of the mid-20th century. However, she wasn’t the only woman who got her start in cartography because of World War II. Thousands of women were trained in cartography during the war and, although largely unsung, many had long careers in the field.

Mapping Other Worlds: Asteroids and Other Non-Spherical Objects
Philip Stooke, University of Western Ontario

Map projections and cartographic procedures were easily adapted for use with the Moon, Mars and other near-spherical worlds. Since 1971, spacecraft images have revealed small bodies with highly irregular shapes, including the satellites of Mars, small moons of the outer planets, and asteroids and comet nuclei. Map projections and shape-modeling methods have been devised for use with these objects, and many maps and digital-image mosaics have been compiled.

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Session 2: The Future of Cartography and Geodesign

Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary
Jill Desimini, Harvard Graduate School of Design

An increasing interaction between cartography and design has changed the way architects, landscape architects and urban designers communicate ideas about buildings and landscapes. This talk will look at the interaction between cartography and design and its future potential, as technologies of computer visualization get more and more realistic.

Close-up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics
Laura Kurgan, Columbia University

Global Positioning System (GPS) readings, satellite images and geographic information system (GIS) software have increased our ability to navigate, inhabit and define the spatial realm. These technologies have raised fundamental questions about the intersection between physical space and its representation and virtual space and its realization.

Looking for Magpie and Possum: Agent-Based Models, Cellular Automata and the End of Cartography
John Hessler, Library of Congress

The origins of the notions of time in cartography and geographical analysis can be determined by looking at how some of the early pioneers in computer cartography represented time by using simple computer models. This talk will show how these models represent the future of cartography and the death of the Ptolemaic project.

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Real-Time, Space-Time Integration in Geography and Cartography

Keynote Speaker Douglas Richardson

A new form of space-time integration has now become possible in GIS (geographic information system) and GIScience (geographic information science)—real-time, space-time integration and interaction. This innovation has changed geography, cartography and many related fields, profoundly realigning traditional relationships and structures, expanding research horizons and transforming the way geographic data is now collected, mapped, modeled and used.

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.5 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 the most famous mapmakers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius and Blaeu. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. 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.


PR 14-061
ISSN 0731-3527