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Ronald Grim  







Maps; Mapping  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
23 Dec 1998

  • United States
    District of Columbia
  • Washington, D.C.; Library of Congress Map Room
  • 38.88678   -77.00491
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo; Sennheiser MKH40 Cardioid Mid Mic and MKH30 Bidirectional Side Mic

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
Segment: Mapping
DAT: Tour of Library of Congress Map Vault with Ronald Grimm
Date: 12/23/1998
Logged by: J.S.

ambi :17
sounds of traffic outside of the Library of Congress. good bus sounds; breaking and starting up again. airplane flying overhead.

ambi 2:23
sounds of traffic slowly fade away as you hear someone enter a building. footsteps on a tile floor. security guard talking in the background. Jessica asks how to get to the map room. beeping sound in the background. more walking. laughing in the background as a woman says 'happy holidays' to someone else.

ambi 4:40
elevator bell rings. they go into an elevator. inside elevator ambiance. keys jangling.
some talking. doors open. sound of walking. door creaks open and closed. Some more talking and instructions are given. more ambiance inside the building.

ambi 8:15
sounds of lockers opening and closing. more talking. Don and Ronald meet.

Ronald Grimm [RG] 9:30
You saw this neat little item over here.

Don Smith [DS] 9:33
This? that's amazing.

RG 9:36
It's the first we've ever seen anything like it too.

DS 9:39
I've seen cheap, plastic maps but they just don't seem as accurate. (laughs).

RG 9:43
Well, apparently what they do here, this is all done by computer. They figure out the contour intervals at about 50 foot intervals and then they cut out a piece of paper. And then you get the brown line because the laser makes sort of a brown tint along the edge. And then when you paste them all on top of each other you get the relief map and it looks like the contours are there as well.

DS 10:06
It's beautiful.

... Jessica introduces herself...

RG 10:18
I thought we could go into the vault area where we probably won't have a lot of interruptions. And I've laid things out because I talk better when I'm showing something. I know you can't see it, but...(laughs)

DS 10:33
If you can just describe them and for people who can't see it and bring up some mental pictures. That would be great. The one small change in plan, if you wouldn't mind, I'd also like to see old maps, some old beautiful maps ... just maybe one or two and talk us through what we're seeing, the illumination and hand painting and so forth .

... they talk as they walk toward the vault...

RG 11:50
I doubt that you've been here before but this really gives you a good perspective on our collections. This is the middle of our stack here and we extend all the way from the west side of the building to the east side of the building and this is about one city block in length. We occupy one third of this floor and that's about the size of 2 1/2 football fields and in this space we have more than 4 million maps, single sheet maps and about 63,000 atlases. So we have maps and atlases pertaining to every country in the world. Obviously the major emphasis is the U.S. and North America in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Some of our earliest materials go back to the late 1400s with the advent of the printing press. In fact we have some manuscripts going back to the 1300s. But just because, I always say the 1400s because I want to be representative of what we really have. So we're always collecting new materials, we're collecting 20th century materials and that's a lot of what I've pulled out today.
We'll go into our vault now.

ambi 13:07
sounds of walking to the vault. door opens and closes. more walking.

RG 13:58
The room we're in now is called our vault and this is where we keep the rarer and more historical items in our collection. These are basically maps that were drawn or printed before 1800. That includes atlases that Were drawn or printed before that time period and also globes. And then materials we keep as collections are also kept in this room. And this is an example of one of the earliest types of maps, this what is called a portelain (?) chart. The map shows the Mediterranean. This particular one was drawn in the middle of the 1500s. It shows the coastline of the Mediterranean and then perpendicular to the coastline are the place names. And you see the compass roses with lines radiating out from the compass roses. The sailors use these maps to supposedly navigate along the coastline using a compass. They could take measurements of latitude at this point but they couldn't measure longitude so you see the elongated geographical area here. It's wider or longer than you would normally expect, but otherwise it's fairly accurate and I think it's fairly amazing that you can recognize Italy, Sicily and the islands and they didn't have satellite imagery, they didn't have aerial photography to map these particular items.

DS 15:27
It looks like a piece of artwork.

RG 15:28
It does. It's done on animal skin, that's why you have the unusual shape over here on this side. And then, they were trying to be so scientific at this time period to draw the areas accurately, but they still have strong religious symbology. Here in the neck of animal skin you have the Madonna and child in the compass rose. There are some other examples where you'll see the Red Sea and there's a little bridge across the Red Sea symbolizing the path of the Israelites out of Egypt. So there's a lot of biblical and theological elements to these early maps even though they're trying to be scientific.

DS 16:13
The colors are beautiful. Describe the colors.

RG 16:19
O.K. They're, in the compass rose, they're bright reds and blues and then in the center there's a gold leaf highlighting the compass rose. And the compass rose arrow is in gold as well. And then the coastline is in gold and the place names are in red gold and some of the rivers are indicated in a blue ... you can hardly imagine somebody could print these items, would have a pen fine enough to print these items.

This is an example of one of the earliest atlases in the collection. This one also dates from the 1500s. This particular atlas was compiled and published by Abraham Ortelius (?) who lived in Antwerp. He's considered to be the father of the Atlas. He was the first person to put together maps that were contemporary to the time period and put them in a book and published them in a similar format. Now he didn't call his book an atlas. He called it teatra orbis tierra meaning theater of the whole world. You'll notice on the title page it's again very decorative, it has very elaborate images. At the top basically you have four women illustrating the title page. At the top we have a very well-dressed woman representing civilized Europe. Being at the top of the page we have Europe ruling over the rest of the world. On the two sides we have exotic Asia and exotic Africa which the Europeans had come to know at that particular time. And at the bottom we have the savage Americas being portrayed as a cannibal, basically indicating that the Europeans at this time didn't know very much about the western hemisphere. And the continents of this atlas reflects the image on the front of the cover. The Europeans saw themselves as the center of the universe and were ruling over the world. The maps in the atlas are
basically European with very few for Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

But if we look at some of the maps (sound of rustling pages) here is a map showing the world as it was known in the 1570s. We can see that there are some little sea monsters here in the water. In the Indian Ocean it looks like there is a whale, over in the Pacific Ocean it looks like there is a sea serpent of some type. On this particular world map we can see that Africa, Europe and Asia look somewhat like the shapes that we know today. In the Western Hemisphere there is a N. America and a S. America but the shapes aren't the shapes that we know today. They were just learning what the outline of these continents were at this point. But at this point they do define them as two separate continents. But the thing that's unusual is that they show a land mass at the S. part of the continent and at this point only two pieces of information were known. Magellan had sailed through the straits at the tip of S. America and he had identified the land at the south as Tierra Del Fuego. So we see this particular element, Tierra Del Fuego. The Dutch and Portuguese had done a little exploration in the area of N. Australia, so some of the elements in this area are outlined as well. The cartographer sat down and said we have a little land mass here and a little land mass over in the Indian Ocean and so he draws a little line to connect them and thus we have a continent at the S. part of the hemisphere. But they needed a continent at the s. part of the globe because they needed to balance the four islands that they supposed were at the n. pole, so they needed that balance on this particular map. So this is part of the misinformation that is found on maps from this early time period.

DS 21:20
Tierra Del Fuego becomes part of Antarctica.

Ambi 21:34
Grimm turns the pages of the maps several times without talking. Really good large-old-page sound.

RG 21:51
You know, one thing that I might add here, which takes us really to the 20th century and to the end of this century. One of the projects that we're doing in the library is that we're starting to scan our older materials so that they can be made electronically and we can publicize them over the Internet. We've started with some of our maps from the 19th century starting with our birds-eye views. But we did have the opportunity to scan this particular atlas, this is the first edition of the Abraham Ortelius Atlas, we had taken it apart for preservation purposes, and at that point we were able to scan each page in this particular atlas and before too long we'll be able to make this available on the internet. And people will be able to access each of the map images that are in this atlas through the Library of Congress web page. So we're taking the old and bringing it into 20th century technology.

O.K., now the items that I have over here are basically 20th century items and what I tried to do was pick items that represented major innovations or major developments in cartography during the 20th century. And I really feel that one of the major contributions of this century, and one of the things that we'll note as one of the landmarks of this time period is the ability to gather information by the general term remote sensing. And that is collecting information about an object without actually being there to measure it. Until this time period when we wanted to map a particular part of the earth, you went out with a surveyor, with a tape measure with a theodolype (?) whatever and you actually made measurements and you measured the particular elements of the earth. With remote sensing, and I use that in a very broad sense right here, you could use various types of media to collect information without actually being there. And the first example would be aerial photography, in other words taking a camera into an airplane or maybe even initially a hot air balloon and getting up above the landscape and shooting an image up above the landscape. With aerial photography you're taking a camera with conventional film and you're capturing pictures or images of the earth surface.

The particular image that we have in front of us right now is an image, an aerial mosaic of NYC, it was compiled in August of 1921. It's composite of 100 aerial photographs of just Manhattan. And as we look at this image it's about 2 'i2 feet wide and 10 feet long. The airplane flew over Manhattan, took the pictures, these 100 pictures, took them back, they were put into this mosaic form and you have this composite picture of Manhattan. If you look closely, O.K. the most obvious image in the center is Central Park. But if you go south of Central Park you can see the NY Public Library. Further south where the Empire State Building would be you don't see anything, it looks basically like row houses and businesses. The Empire State Building hadn't been built yet. But I believe this would be Penn Station over here. Along the East River, the UN, one of the famous landmarks of today isn't there. But you do see an island that is divided into its grid pattern of streets and is very densely populated with buildings at this time but not as densely populated as it is today.

26:08 So aerial photography was the first media that was used to capture information about the earth's surface. The government agencies in the department of agriculture flew aerial photography of the United States in the late 1930s and the early 1940s and they used this aerial photography to prepare soil maps of the U.S. One of the earliest of aerial photography being used for mapping we've seen in Israel to map some of the towns or I should say Palestine who mapped some of the towns, I think it was about 1917 or a little earlier when the aerial photography was being used. It's one of the earliest examples that we have, this image of New York City.

Ambi 27:18
sound of Grimm opening up and then closing the map.

RG 27:31
O.K. as a contrast we have some of the satellite imagery that's being flown today by the U.S. LANSAT program. In this case the images that are being captured aren't
photographic images, they're electronic images based on the thermal energy and the infrared energy that is transmitted from the earth's surface. With this new satellite imagery it's possible to capture elements of the landscape that you can't see with the naked eye because you're measuring light other than the visible light, infrared, ultraviolet images that are sent back to the scanner. But in this case we have an image of the area in the Amazon Basin. Basically what you see here are reds and the reds are how the greens are interpreted with this infrared band. You'll see various shades of red, the deeper red represents a deeper, stronger, healthier vegetation, the lighter reds represents where the rain forest has been cut down and deforestation has taken place. So you see a whole strip running north of Menous (?) where you have the deforestation taking place. And you'll notice the difference in the rivers. Here you have the Amazon that is in a sort of a medium shade of blue and then the Rio Negro with its sediments coming into the Amazon River and the two are maintaining their separate currents at least for part of the flow down from Menous. North is up here, this would be flowing to the east.

Another interesting example, are two images of the St. Louis Missouri area, showing the Mississippi and the Missouri area before the hurricane floods several years ago. Here you see the basic flow of the Mississippi and the Missouri and here it is in flood and you see how much of the area has expanded. The wooded areas are shown in the green and the urban, settled areas are shown in a purple or a pink representing the different bands of energy that are being reflected back to the satellite imagery. Now we don't have a lot of satellite imagery in our collection basically because this is done under the auspices of the geological survey and most of it is stored in the aerostats data center in ...S. Dakota but we do have some representative samples to reflect the differences in technology that's taking place.

Now one of the other major developments that I think this century will be remembered for is the completing of the topographic mapping of the world. Now the initial topographic mapping started in the 18th century when the Casinis mapped France, it was the first scientifically controlled mapping of a particular country, a developed triangulation networks that established latitude and longitude and the elevation of a country and they mapped the topography as well. Most of the 19th century, the European countries spent doing topographic surveys of their countries, the U.S. didn't really get started doing a systematic program until the 1870s-1880s. So most of the 20th century in the U.S. we've spent completing the topographic mapping of this country. But more importantly the countries in S. America, Africa and Asia under the auspices of their colonial partners, started mapping those countries and those countries have been mapped. But more significantly we have moved into mapping what I call the new frontiers, basically the mapping of Antarctica, the mapping of the moon, and we actually started mapping the moon before we went there using again shots through telescopes and through satellites. But here are some examples of the mapping of the moon and what's very obviously here are the various craters on the surface of the moon. Interestingly it's portrayed here in gray suggesting a very bland landscape in this case. From our standpoint one of the really significant sets of mapping is the mapping of the ocean floor, which took place in the 1950s, the 60s and the 70s. The work of mapping the ocean floor was directed by two people, Bruce Heason and Marie Tharpe, they worked under grants from the Federal Government at Columbia University. And just several years ago, Marie Tharpe has donated the entire archive of this project to the Library of Congress.

Now the initial work that they did appears on maps like this which if you look at them initially probably don't look much like a map, they look like a piece of abstract art. But what they did was they collected soundings of the ocean depths, various ships would sail over portions of the ocean floor and they would be measuring the depths and they would plot out on the sheets the depths along a particular line. So you have these criss-crossing lines with depths on the initial sheet and that doesn't really look like a map, it's just diagonal and horizontal and perpendicular lines representing a series of particular depths. But then they would sit down and calculate and analyze and they would draw contour lines, or at least initial contour lines and these represent 1000 ft intervals or 100 ft intervals. And then they colored them in to represent the different depths. Then they took this information where they have the contour lines which is for several degrees of latitude and longitude and they drew physiographic diagrams which then, eventually, the geographic society took and printed maps of the entire ocean floors. They had hired an Austrian artist by the name of Hienrich Beran to do the final drawing of the ocean floor. But here we can see the entire process of mapmaking from data-collection to initial compilation to intermediate art stages to the final printed product as was published by National Geographic. And I think most people will when they think about the ocean floor will have this image in their mind today.

Basically it's an image showing the continents in physical relief, but then you start to see the continental shelves which are relatively shallow and then a certain drop off going down into the ocean floor. And within the ocean floor you see these mountain ranges and fault lines and places where the earthquakes were taking place and just a very new and striking topography with which we were not very familiar before.

DS 35:48
It kind of looks like a photograph of the world with the oceans drained. Could you
describe that please?

RG 35:58
It's basically an image showing the ocean, it looks like the water has been drained away and you can see the mountain ranges. In this case we're looking at the Atlantic Ocean floor and we're seeing a mountain range going down the middle of the ocean. In many ways it looks like the back of an armadillo representing the relief of the central part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another important development in terms of cartography of the 20th century was mapping pertaining to 2 modes of transportation, basically the automobile and the airplane. Now during the 19th century and earlier, there were many maps that showed the roads but basically these were horse carriage roads and postal roads and maps showed those. But during the 20th century we had a proliferation of maps for the traveler and it resulted in what we called the give-away map that we were familiar with in the 1920s-50s. Gas companies would contract with the map companies to produce maps of a particular state and these would be given away free at the service stations as an inducement for people using the service stations. For example we have a map here of Pennsylvania done by the Shell Oil company done in the 1930s. But we have an image of a woman sitting in a convertible, she has a little terrier in her arms and above her we have the Shell logo and behind that are reproductions of all the license plates of all the states in bright yellows and oranges. But we see this type of image repeated on these types of maps. Here are two men in a convertible puling up to a gas station. One of the images is frequently using women driving the car .. In this case a woman is driving up to a Gulf service station and there is an attendant to help her fill up her automobile. But more importantly if you turn the map over to the other side you'll see a map of Penn and the major roads are delineated showing the best roads and then in lighter blue and light double blue lines the lesser roads. At this point it doesn't look like, there's no indication of the Penn. Turnpike, but you can see route 30 going west from Lancaster Pittsburgh, one of the major east-west highways at that time.

Well the road map was one of the really important maps but also mapping developed for the airplane as well. Initially when pilots would fly they would make notes and have a notebook on what landmarks to look for when approaching a particular landing strip. So some of the initial aeronautical maps were basically maps of airports showing the approaches to those particular landing fields. Eventually the federal government got involved in doing aeronautical maps and they would do strip maps. And in this case we . have a strip map in front of us showing the area of Cleveland, Ohio west to about Harrisburg Penn. It shows the major towns, the major roads but it also emphasizes where the air routes would be. At this point they were flying using the landmarks on the ground. And then there are insets showing the approaches to some of the airfields. The approach to Cleveland ...etc. One of the really innovative pieces of work in cartography at this time was done by a private company, the company is the Jepson (?) Company, they are one of the largest firms today to do aeronautical charts. You'll notice on this particular map, it's the state of Wyoming, we have various airports and information about the routes going from airport to airport. But the base map is what's quite interesting, you'll notice it's a shaded relief map using natural colors. These maps were done by a cartographic artist, Hal Sheldon who lives in Denver, CO, and a number of years ago his company donated to us his original artwork. In here we have the original artwork for the map of Wyoming. What we see is a map of the state without political boundaries, without any roads, without any place names, just the physical relief. The relief is shown in shading but then he also adds some natural colors. In other words the greens on this represents the areas that are wooded... so in this area of the Wind River mountains we can see the snow caps in white and then along the sides the darker green for vegetation. And then if you move in west of the Wind River, you'll see subtle shades of Orange and Pink or lighter green representing the desert or the rain shadow area ...and then in the north western part of the state you have a very vivid image of the area that is now Yellowstone National Park. You can see Yellowstone Lake and the areas today that comprise the geyser basins. But a map like this really emphasizes the physical landscape and what it was like before you ad the cultural features. A fairly dramatic representation.

DS 42:45
what medium do you suppose that was?

RG 42:47
Well he started off using a zinc plate which you can see here and on the zinc plate the topography was etched in contour lines or it was reproduced and he used that as his base. And then he used an airbrush technique to build up the relief representation.

Ambi 43:20
sounds of people walking.

RG 43:31
The World Wars produced major mapping during the 20th century as well. The type of mapping that is represented from the First World War and the Second World War may not be so much innovations but they do represent an intensification of various techniques that had been started in the 19th century. And I think from a library standpoint what's even more significant is the vast number of maps that were produced as a result of the two wars and for that reason our map collections grew phenomenally after World War I and WWII. Many of the maps that we acquired were acquired from the State Dept. and the Defense Dept. They had initially acquired these maps for intelligence purposes and their mapping purposes and then when they no longer needed them they turned them over to us. And in that way we gained topographic maps of most of the European countries and many of the Asian and African countries as well. And it was a way that we built up our collections as well. But the maybe more significant elements that came out of the wars particularly WWI were the studies that came out after the war on mapping the ethnic and religious groups in the European countries. And this resulted in a number of thematic maps, maps that would plot distribution of ethnic and religious groups in European countries. As the, there was a group known as the geographical inquiry, which sat down and tried to determine what would be the most appropriate boundaries for the European countries. In this case we're looking at a map of Yugoslavia and this was done in 1921. And this particular map represents the particular religious groups at that particular time. We have a series of brown shades showing the density of the Catholic population. A series of blue shades showing the Orthodox religion, a series of green shades showing the Muslim religions. By looking at these particular maps you'll see there is a real patchwork of religious groups here, it almost looks like a quilt pattern with the greens, the blues, the browns intermixed. But this really helps us to understand part of the problem we're having today in this area.

This is an area that's ethnically and religiously diverse, so even though we tried to draw the boundaries of this area after WWI, we're still trying to draw the boundaries today. In fact we have a collection of maps from the peace accord that show the boundaries at that particular point. Now WWII produced some interesting variations in the media in which maps were printed, for example, many topographic maps were printed on cloth and these cloth maps could be carried with soldiers and folded up in their pocket and maybe easily disposed if they had been captured. In this case we're looking at maps in the Pacific Ocean, they're fairly regular topographic maps. In this case they're using hipsomantic (?) tints or colors to represent the different elevations. In this case green is the lowest level and as you go through the different shades of amber and other shades of orange you get to higher elevations. But the thing that's really quite unique is that the maps are done on cloth and can be rolled up ...or put in your pocket.

Another interesting device, and I'm not really sure how wide-spread this was, was the printing of maps on playing cards. Now the idea of this was that the packs of cards would be sent to Red Cross packages or some similar means. But basically the soldier or POW would receive a deck of cards such as this box of bicycle rider back playing cards. Now if we take this Queen of Hearts card and we look on the back there would be pasted on the back a segment of a particular map so you could peel off the map that's on the back of the Queen of hearts plus all the card in the rest of the deck and you would have a map of the entire area where you were located. And if you were fortunate enough to escape you could use it to find your way to safety. Now we don't know how many people actually used these maps for escape but it was a device that was being used at that particular time. Some other interesting items that we have from the WWII period, we have some relief maps done on rubber. These relief maps could be rolled and folded and taken on your ship and quite often they were used for planning exercises. But they show the actual buildings and relief in rubber. Now the rubber disintegrates over time so some of the maps we have are falling apart. But in the 1950s and 60s relief maps were then printed on plastic which was a much more durable way of doing a relief map ... (Jessica asked about the authenticity of that particular deck of map cards) ....we have not come across actual decks of playing cards, but the story is that these materials were made by a special army group located at Fort Hunt which is south of Alexandria...they had a special unit there that made these special escape devices that were used during the war ....

... there are even some maps done on rice paper and the idea behind that was that if you were captured you could eat or dispose of the map readily without people knowing you had that particular map. Along with the WWII materials a type of map that comes to my mind which I think is very significant is what we refer to as the journalistic map. And I, maps that appeared in newspapers and periodicals were prevalent through the middle of the 19th century but I think they reached their height in the middle of the 20th century particularly in the middle of WWII. We're very fortunate to have obtained the original artwork of one of the original journalistic cartographers who was very prominent in the 1940s and 50s. His name was Richard E. Harrison, he was a freelance cartographer, he did a lot of work for Time, Life and Fortune. Ricky Harrison was an innovative cartographer, he tended to look at the world through a different perspective than most cartographers do. Many of the maps that you look at will have north at the top .. .it's a very scientific measured map. Ricky Harrison tried to take a global perspective. In other words his horizon would be the edge of the globe and you would have a particular perspective of the globe and most often north wouldn't be at the top of his particular maps. This first image which is entitled 'looking at Europe from Moscow' and he's taking the perspective that he's right above Moscow and he's looking west across Europe and so you have this perspective of what it would look like if you were the Russians moving into central Europe and eventually out to Spain which is out at the horizon. He also uses a physical relief, he tries to show the topography and he also uses the natural vegetation colors ...but this then would be the base map for one of the articles in Time, Life or Fortune magazine. One series that he did which is quite interesting is four images of Japan. The article was called "Four views of Japan". In this series we look at Japan as if we were in Alaska, so you basically see the western part of Alaska and you're looking over the eastern side of Siberia down to Japan and half of the image is basically ocean. There's another image of Japan looking from Burma ....The third one is looking at Japan from Siberia ....and the final one is Japan from the Solomon Islands and basically what you see on this map is a lot of ocean. Now there's a little note with the original artwork with this particular image where Ricky Harrison recorded the comment that his editor said 'there's too much water on this map' to which Ricky responded 'well that's where the war is going to be fought.'

He was very perceptive because that's where the war was fought. Several years ago I had the fortune of being with Ricky Harrison at an exhibit ... in NYC, the exhibit was called 'The Power of Maps' . And they used a number of Ricky Harrison's images in the exhibit. The day that I was there I got to walk around with him and look at his images and that's particularly what he wanted to show me because he was very proud of his work ....But one of his images was positioned right next to the new computer programs where you take a basic flat image of the world and you tilt it and you basically move around the image as if you're flying around it. And I said to him you know you were very foresighted in what you were doing because you had this ability to visualize images from different perspectives. Basically what we do with computers today ...and he turned to me and said, 'but my work was art'.

The final development that I see in cartography of the 20th century is the application of computer technology to mapping. And in a sense Ricky Harrison really foresaw what was happening, the idea that you could just manipulate conventional images. But the last several decades have seen a total new development of cartography. Up until this point maps were basically hand drawn. In the 50s-70s you used a lot of stick up and a lot of various milar codes to produce your maps and they were becoming more automated. But with the advent of the computer it's now possible to collect data, segregate data and plot it graphically and basically do your whole map using a computer program. One collection we have are examples of the cartographic work that is being done by the users of the Esri software ...each year they have an annual users conference and the users bring samples of that particular material along to the conference and we've worked out an agreement with the parent company that they will donate that material to us as samples of the computer cartography that is being done. In this particular example that we see here we have a map that shows the damage zones done by Hurricane Andrew on August 24, 1992 in Dade County, FLA and basically what they've plotted here are the areas where the properties are almost totally destroyed or if there was heavy damage or medium damage or light damage. And the information for this was generated from computer programs and geographical databases. Here in the Library of Congress we're also getting into the act. We've developed the capability of producing maps for ourselves which is really sort of a new direction of map libraries. Map libraries up until this point have basically been repositories of information where people come and consult our materials. But we do now have the capability of producing maps and most of what we'll be doing is for Congress,
however the map I have here is one I had one of our staff members create for me for a talk I was giving. I was talking about the various places in the U.S. named Wyoming. And in this case we used the U.S. Geological Surveys database ...we located in that database all the places named Wyoming and then one of our staff members took that info used a commercial geographical database and plotted the locations.

The thing I find is very interesting with this technology, if! had been plotting the map myself I would have used little dots or circles to show the location of each town. We had discussed making the north arrow using the symbol of Wyoming...the bucking bronco...and making that into the north arrow which we did here. But then the staff member thought why don't we use that symbol for the location of the particular places ....

Thank you so much. We have the makings of a two hour show here.

ambi 1:01:16

RG goes around and gives an 'ambiance tour' without talking, opening and closing maps, flipping pages. Then you hear just the silent sounds of the room.

(Don and Ronald talk about how Ronald got to where he is now)

And there's been quite a revolution in mapmaking in the 20th century, eh?

RG 1:06:19
Yes it has. I would say the techniques that we saw developed in the late 1400s were basically the same techniques that survived until the beginning of the 19th century...but the real changes were in the 20th century with the methods on how the information was collected in other words aerial photography and remote sensing. The next change is the use of the computer in the last couple of decades, using the computer to draw and compile the maps. So yes, this has been a very momentous century in terms of the history of cartography....

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