Maps in our Lives

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New map exhibit in the the Library of Congress

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Maps in our Lives

  1. 1. October 2005 Vol. 25 No. 10 A PUBLICATION
  2. 2. Maps inOur Lives
  3. 3. The Exhibit: “Maps in Our Lives” September 14, 2005 – January 26, 2007 Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. James Madison Memorial Building – Library of Congress 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. Open to the public free of chargeAn Interview with Dr. John R. HébertChief, Geography and Map DivisionLibrary of Congress D Dr. John R. Hébert is Chief of the Geography and Map Divi- sion of the Library of Con- gress. He began work in this division in 1969. He is a Latin American historian and geographer, and for a substantial part of his career, was an administra- tor in the Hispanic Division of the Library of Con- gress. From 1988 to 1993 he directed the Library of Congress’ program in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage of discov- ery, 1492: An Ongoing Voyage. From his initial work in panoramic maps of American cities (1974) to his most recent compilation, Charting Louis- iana: 500 Years of Maps (New Orleans: The His- toric New Orleans Collection, 2003), Dr. Hébert has concentrated his research efforts and publish- ing on the historical cartography, especially of the relationship of Spain and the United States along the Gulf Coast, on the history of Spain, France, and England in the Gulf Coast region. A Louisiana native, Dr. Hébert received his B.A. from the Uni- versity of Southwestern Louisiana (1965), and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University (1967 and 1972). He served on the presidential Christo- pher Columbus Quincentenary Commission and serves on the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and on the Federal Geographic Data Commission. What is significant about the exhibition “Maps in Our Lives” that opened at the Library of Congress on September 14? The exhibition is a cooperative venture between the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and the American Congress on Survey- ing and Mapping (ACSM). The relationship be- tween the two groups extends over 30 years, with the Geography and Map Division serving as a PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005 3
  4. 4. FEATURErecipient of the ACSM map competi-tion winners each year, and with divi-sion staff assisting in the judging ofannual winners. The exhibition is anatural extension of this ongoing re-lationship and represents the impor-tance that both institutions remain incontact with each other’s programsand mission objectives. In the mid-1980s the Geography and Map Divi-sion mounted an exhibition of ACSMmap competition winners. This time,the exhibition wishes to describe thecurrents of mapping as identified in George Washington’s original 1766 manuscript plat of his farm on Little Huntingthe four major sections of the ACSM Creek, near Mount Vernon. This map is among 12 original manuscripts, prepared byumbrella. Representation from the our first president, that are held in the Geography and Map Division. fields of surveying, cartography, geo- desy, and geographic information sys- tems appears in the exhibition. With their appearance is the opportunity to address the significance of mapping in our everyday lives, reaching out to a general public who will be intro- duced not only to the variety of ele- ments comprising cartography but al- so to the vast resources that can be found in the Geography and Map Di- vision to further one’s interests. The exhibition, Maps in Our Lives, is divided into the four major seg- ments of ACSM’s charge—surveying, cartography, geodesy, and geograph- ic information systems. Through these sections it is the goal of the ex- hibition to address the functions of each system and to display a number of examples from each so that theA three-dimensional model showing a portion of Washington’s 1766 map of the farm public appreciates fully the impact ofon Little Hunting Creek overlaid with modern structures and other evidence of land use. maps on our daily life.4 PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005
  5. 5. An 1859 map of Washington’s land at Mount Vernon based on original plats and other more recent maps compiled byW. Gillingham. From the collections of the Geography and Map Division. The surveying segment has cho- By showing how an exactly we have seen introduced in GPS sys-sen to follow the use, over 250 years, tems for every household use.of property which belonged to located piece of land near The geographic information seg-George Washington, our first presi- Mount Vernon changes in use ment of the exhibition is a continua-dent, and a well-established surveyor tion of the surveying section, as thefor much of his life. and ownership over time, modern day extension by the new By showing how an exactly-located we can show how surveying technology takes contemporarypiece of land near Mount Vernonchanges in use and ownership over successfully links us to thetime, we can show how surveying past, while investing itssuccessfully links us to the past, whileinvesting its energies in the present. energies in the present. The cartography section highlightsthe rich and varied contributions of piece of land exists, it can bemapmakers—academic, commercial, mapped—and mapped in manyfederal, and private—in depicting different ways.events, locations, and functions of The geodesy segment depicts the manner in which a uniform and A replica of a ca. 3000 B.C.places throughout the globe. Themes land use map on a clayfrom urban planning and transporta- geographically correct survey sys- tablet from the Tigris-tion routes to interpreting World War tem of the United States was devel- Euphrates region. In theII and boundary issues, the cartogra- oped and the significance of know- collections of the Libraryphy section demonstrates that if a ing one’s exact location is today, as of Congress. PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005 5
  6. 6. FEATUREknowledge and use of George Wash-ington’s land in Fairfax County, Vir-ginia and provides a three-dimen-sional overlay to the varied layers ofdata that are essential in under-standing location and potential useof property.What is the role of the Library ofCongress, and the Geography andMap Division, vis a vis Congress?TThe Library of Congress was formedin 1800 to serve as the Library to theCongress of the United States. Overthe centuries, it has emerged as thelargest research library in the world,acquiring research materials fromthroughout the world in support ofCongress’ needs. In addition, it servesas a major research institution avail-able for use by the general public andthroughout the world. The Geography and Map Divisionis the largest map collection in theworld, with some 5.2 million maps,75,000 atlases, 500 globes and globegores, 3,000 three-dimensional (raisedrelief ) models and more than 13,000(and growing) digital maps on com-pact disk. Its earliest original mapdates from the mid-14th century andthe earliest example of a map that itholds in a clay tablet reproduction isfrom 3000 B.C. Tigris Euphrates val-ley. At the same time, the divisionhas an extensive program to scan A sheet from the 1507 world map by Martin Waldseemuller is the object of interest oforiginal maps for the Web and an ac- Dr. John Hébert, Chief, Geography and Map Division, and Curtis Sumner, Executive Director of ACSM. This 12 sheet world map treasure is the first document on whichtive program to prepare maps on de- the name America appears. The only known copy of the map is located in the Geog-mand for Congress. raphy and Map Division, Library of Congress. During a typical year, the Geogra- and migrations of geospatial data in phy and Map Division provides a re- digital form. production of a map to respond to The division serves as a site where Congressional queries, prepares scan- issues on legislation are clarified ned copies from its large collection for through use of cartography, such as Congress and prepares maps on de- long-term impact of AMTRAK service mand using geographic information and where U.S. government agencies systems technology to provide a and foreign ministries appear to re- graphic record where none existed be- solve long-term boundary disputes or fore. The same challenges regarding disaster issues. At the same time, issues A map can be drawn anywhere! A directions of cartography, in the in- relating to the sea coast or sea bottom,powder horn contains a 1762 British map creasingly digital age, that are impact- the development of urban centers, theof Habana, Cuba and the Mohawk- ing the profession also impact the movement of people, and locations ofHudson River valley prepared during theFrench and Indian War. Other examples work of the division, as collecting con- families in the 19th century, the nu-of maps on powder horns are found in cerns now include considerations re- merous conflicts/wars and their out-the Geography and Map Division. garding access, archiving, serving, come by battle, the development of6 PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005
  7. 7. national parks in the U.S., the con-struction of railroad, canal, and auto-mobile routes, are topics that are re-searched routinely in the Geographyand Map Division. Its reading room isopened from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Mon-day through Friday. Maps are verymuch a part of daily life in the Geogra-phy and Map Division. The story of the exhibition relatedto George Washington is an interestingone and it was chosen because, in themap profession, most of us are awarethat our first president’s most consis-tent work throughout his life, was sur-veying. Examples of his cartographicefforts from the time he was 16 yearsold until two months before he diedare found in the Geography and MapDivision. We used George Washing-ton’s plats and his property as a jump-ing-off point in the exhibition to show Martin Waldseemuller conducted a survey of this region of the Rhine Valley in theour maps convey the use of a single early 16th century. He included this map in his 1513 compilation of Ptolemy’sparcel of property over time, and that Geographia atlas. John Hessler, Geography and Map Division staff member, is shownthat use could be understood from the discussing the map and the techniques employed by the surveyor. confines of the Geography and Map Division collection. Therefore, it is possible to go back into time to uncov- er what preceded us here, who used the space and how, and to see how that use has changed over time. Our work on the exhibition was made possible by our close working relationship with ACSM. We both held similar interests and purposes, that is, to provide a rich understanding of Maps in Our Lives to a broad audience. That effort is actually daily work for both the G&M Division and the ACSM. Both labor to convince those who need convincing to use maps in their presentations, and in their research to better understand the context of events and actions. And through the exhibition, it is possible to see a repre- sentative slice of the types of subjects for which a map tells it better. The working relationship with the ACSM staff and associates was impor- tant for another reason, and that was to establish communications, not on- ly for an exhibition, but also for otherGinny Mason, cartographer in the Congressional Cartography Program, Geography matters deemed important to both or-and Map Division,is shown reviewing one of her contributions made for Congress ganizations. Issues regarding the pre-using GIS. Ms. Mason is the curator of the G&M/ACSM exhibition, Maps in Our Lives. servation of cartographic expression is PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005 7
  8. 8. FEATUREmore serious than ever, as new digital map, the historical map, and the cur- a.m.-6 p.m. The division is located inmanifestations can be changed and rent use of relevant data that goes into the basement of that building, and thelost rapidly. It is the mission of the Ge- the construction of a map, could be exhibition is mounted on the corridorography and Map Division to docu- carried from one medium to the other on the basement level outside of thement the history of cartography, in without losing its relevance. The fu- division. The number of objects iswhatever form it takes. It has the abili- ture of map collections will be the roughly 50 pieces, but each piece hasty to supply a record of the legacy that ability and with what facility through its own story and attraction. Maps aregoes back to at least 3000 B.C. What which we can carry information relat- that way. They are intended to be stud-will be the legacy that the current gen- ed to a particular place on earth ied personally, rather than as part of aeration of map makers leave that can through time. If we can successfully general picture.be studied 100 years from now? That negotiate the need to maintain the Therefore, the time needed to seedilemma of what to collect, how to past for comparative purposes, and the exhibition can be as little as 30collect it, how to archive it, how to for modeling with the new depictions minutes or as much as several hours,maintain access to it, is what con- of geospatial data in digital form, we depending on one’s interests. Whoeverfronts both those who make and those will have accomplished the ability to comes will find something in the exhi-who collection cartographic expres- maintain the relevance and utility of bition to delight and inform oneself.sion today. cartographic data over time. And, for those who come by the exhi- One of the elements of the exhibi- Between now and January 26, 2007, bition, an invitation is extended totion that was most satisfying was the visitors are invited to view the exhibi- check out the Geography and Map Di-ability to join the historical record, that tion, Maps in Our Lives, in the corridor vision reading room where a wholeis, Washington’s 1766 survey of his land of the Geography and Map Division in larger world of cartography, surveying,on Little Hunting Creek, with the cur- the James Madison Memorial Build- geodesy, and GIS exist.rent sight today using GIS. It proved to ing, Library of Congress, Monday-Fri-us that this combination of the paper day 8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 Photography and interview by Neil Sandler8 PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR MAGAZINE • October 2005

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