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University Libraries - News, Events & Exhibits

Mapping the History of Cartography in Rare Books and Special Collections

Thomas Cooper Library (Mezzanine Gallery)
Jul 1, 2008 - Sep 30, 2008
In Book 1 of his major work on geography Ptolemy defines his subject as “a picture or imitation of the known part of the whole world.” As the age of exploration occurred in tandem with the rise of print culture in the West, the documented pictures of those known parts of the world grew and were shared with greater audiences. The combined work of cartographers, explorers, printers, and engravers allowed a tremendous amount of new information to challenge European perceptions of themselves and others across the globe. New areas of commerce were opened, colonies formed, populations shifted, and peoples enslaved. Cartographers and scientists applied techniques of mapping to create idealized cities, to map the heavens and the oceans, and to chart populations and demographic information using physical and human geography. We have in Thomas Cooper Library tremendous resources in the history of cartography, especially works in: the exploration of the Americas; mapping the New American Republic and trans-Mississippi West; maps from wartime; maps documenting new advances in the sciences; schoolbooks; and tools for navigating the seas and the heavens. Works featured in this exhibition come from many sources and several major collections. Many have been in the university’s collections since well before the Civil War. Many of these antebellum acquisitions bear the bookplate and gilt binding stamp of the South Carolina College Library. Several volumes, including our copy of Ogilby’s America and the Blaeu atlas, come from the Kendall Collection of Caroliniana, given to the library by Henry Plimpton Kendall in 1959. The second large upright case includes several Renaissance city views from the John Osman Braun and Hogenberg Collection, the first comprehensive collection of European (and world) city plans, given to the university by Mrs. Mary Ella Osman in 1989. The 1863 map of the Southern United States comes from the Francis Lord Collection of the American Civil War. The Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike volumes, along with the long panorama of the Hudson River, come from the Alfred Chapin Rogers Collection of Americana, the latter a gift of Mrs. Elizabeth F. Pyne. Other items are more recent and are being exhibited for the first time. The third upright case and several individual cases feature maps of Australia and the South Pacific from a large collection of maps of Oceania given by Frederick C. Holder. One school geography (out of hundreds in our collection) comes from the William Savage Textbook Collection, a group of over 4000 volumes collected by the School of Education and recently transferred to Rare Books and Special Collections. The engravers’ burins, woodblocks and copperplate are on loan from the USC Studio for Book Arts and Printing History and were a gift of Mr. Frank J. Anderson.