July 05, 2004
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Welcome to GISWeekly! For those of you who are familiar with David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, this book is a visual and intellectual treat. For those uninitiated, it is a fascinating journey very separate from the physical map collection and online work. Read the book review in this week's Industry News.
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Review: Cartographica Extraordinaire--
The Historical Map Transformed
By David Rumsey, Edith M. Punt
200 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.82 x 13.42 x 14.12 2004
Review by Susan Smith
For those of you who are familiar with David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, this book is a visual and intellectual treat. For those uninitiated, it is a fascinating journey very separate from the physical map collection and online work.
Last year I saw an exhibit of the Historical Map Collection in the Map Gallery at the ESRI Conference in San Diego. It made a profound impression on many people and I thought it was remarkable that he would share such valuable works with the public.
descriptive text for each one.
What Rumsey attempts to do with this book is to show the “digital wizardry of GIS not as a break from the past and old mapping traditions, but intrinsically and essentially as part of those traditions, as another branch in a family tree.” The maps in this work are not just visual feasts but also have interesting stories attached to them, and they have spawned the technology of GIS that is now able to add a new level of understanding to historical knowledge.
Rumsey takes readers on a journey from the development of cartography, charting history through maps. The focus of the book is on North and South America during the 18th and 19th centuries, starting with the late 15th century explorers who set sail with the expectation that the world was smaller than it turned out to be. Early atlases and maps show inaccuracies such as California portrayed as a peninsula or an island; even up to 1747, the land appeared as a peninsula in some atlases.
It wasn't until the late 18th century when Captain James Cook made three voyages to the Pacific Northwest that maps began to be depicted accurately, much to the relief of navigators. After Cook's death, French circumnavigator Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse explored the Pacific accompanied by anthropologists, botanists, draftsmen and a mathematician. He made detailed accounts of coastlines and elevations day by day, and drawings of flora and fauna.
Included in this history is the Lewis and Clark expedition, which added a vast body of knowledge with volumes of compass bearings, distance calculations, notes and sketches, not to mention descriptions and drawings of numerous animals and plants. Rumsey and Telemorphic, Inc. created a mosaic of the expanding geographic knowledge begun by Lewis and Clark, in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the historic expedition. To create the mosaic, historical map content from the Lewis and Clark expedition was used along with the General Land Office's first land survey, completed in the late 1870s. These were then merged with a 1970 USGS National Atlas, then all three were placed within a mosaic
of NASA Landsat satellite imagery. The four components of this mosaic were georectified for accurate geographic matching.
By 1870, explorations gave way to great surveys conducted by four men: Clarence King, John Wesley Powell, Ferdinand V. Hayden, and George M. Wheeler. Ultimately, King would survey the fortieth parallel of the western United States, covering the area from the 105th to the 120th meridian. He became the first head of the newly formed United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The story of land ownership and the use of the metes and bounds system began with rectangular surveying at the point where the Ohio River meets the Pennsylvania border. From there surveying progressed to vary regionally and according to who was surveying the land. The French, for example, granted long narrow farm lots along the St. Lawrence River in Québec in order to allow each farmer access to the fertile soil along the riverbank. Rivers, of course, change and land became subdivided among family members, so the long lot system was only a good idea for awhile as lots were divided into untenably narrow slices.
The advent of the railroad, harnessing of steam, the invention of the telegraph and other inventions changed travel and changed the way people were connected to one another. Maps have risen to the occasion to provide the necessary data for each stage of history to propel their users into the next level of discovery.
This is a beautiful book of map history separated from others by its presentation of historic maps with great attention to detail and a sense of place and time delivered on each page. It also prepares the reader to visit the Rumsey website with all illustrations in the book referenced to the digital collection.
Rumsey has been propelled, as it were, into the use of GIS technology to showcase his Historical Map Collection. The use of image compression technology from LizardTech's Mr.SID has allowed him to store images at 3 percent of their original size. Luna Imaging has network-enabled the collection, with a user-friendly user interface and image search capabilities. GIS and virtual reality capabilities have been added to his website, which allow visitors to view and interpret maps. The GIS browser shows detailed overlays of maps and geospatial data.
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection can be accessed at
Around the Web...
Mapsolute, based in Germany, launches new website.
Regular Folks to Kiss the Sky Wired News, by Dan Brekke, June 17, 2004 -The first private manned space launch could open the way to a new possibility: space tourism.
Date: July 12 - 23, 2004
Place: Istanbul, Turkey
"GeoImagery Bridging Continents" is the theme of this conference. The use of "GEO-IMAGERY" will play an important role in our future professional activities. New technological developments, particularly in computers have significantly influenced the theory and practice of photogrammetry, remote sensing and SIS.
Date: July 25 - 29, 2004
Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GML Days 2004 is the third annual conference on the OGC Geography Markup Language (GML) and Web Services for GIS.
You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.
To read more news, click here.
-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.
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