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Come for the Lectures, Stay for the Maps

Lately many of my blog posts have been about maritime news, particularly the Costa Concordia disaster. While these stories are very important, I am pleased to be able to share with you readers some exciting news. The Mariners’ Museum Library has been granted the great honor of displaying some of our rare maps and charts at the upcoming Alan M. & Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography, presented by the Fry-Jefferson Map Society.

The Fry-Jefferson Map Society is a foundation affiliated with the Library of Virginia. The Society’s mission is “to develop, enhance and promote the cartographic collections of the Library of Virginia”. The Fry-Jefferson Map Society annually presents the Alan M. & Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography to help accomplish that mission. This year will feature two lectures, entitled “Chesapeake Change: four centuries of shifting venues” and “Impacts of Rapidly Rising Sea Levels on the Erosion of the islands and low-lying areas of Mid-Chesapeake Bay”, as well as cartography exhibits.

Being a volunteer here at The Mariners’ Museum Library has its perks, as I was able to closely examine one of the rare pieces that will be on display. In 1645, English explorer and cartographer Robert Dudley published his book Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea) which, among a host of other firsts, was the first sea-atlas of the whole world. All of its nearly 150 maps and charts were hand engraved and original to the book. Some have called it one of the greatest atlases of the world.

A digital version of Robert Dudley’s map. Come to the event to see the original!

To be featured at the Fry-Jefferson lecture event is Dudley’s map of what would become the American east coast. Dudley’s map was one of the first of its time to accurately depict the American coast from Florida in the south to New France (Canada) in the north. It is a beautifully illustrated work, and surprisingly accurate for a map from the 1600s.

The 2012 Alan. M & Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will take place at the Library of Virginia on March 31. Come for the lectures, stay for the maps!

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