Category Archives: Maps

Collections Highlight: Port of Acapulco, 1638

Alejandro Ruffoni  Puerto de Acapulco en el Reino de la Nueva Expaña en el Mar del Sur 1628 lithograph 17 x 22 in. Genaro García Collection Benson Latin American Collection
Alejandro Ruffoni
Puerto de Acapulco en el Reino de la Nueva Expaña en el Mar del Sur
1628
lithograph
17 x 22 in.
Genaro García Collection
Benson Latin American Collection

A facsimile reproduction made in the Florentine workshop of Alejandro Ruffoni of an original early 17th Century drawing of the Port of Acapulco by Dutch engineer Adrian Boot. The reproduction was commissioned by Mexican historian Francisco del Paso y Troncoso.

The panoramic shows the port and fortification at Acapulco, with depictions of the natural flora and geography of the region.

The artwork is part of the Genaro García Collection at the Benson Latin American Collection.

 

Book Catalogs the Universe of UT Collections

“The Collections” (UT Press, 2016).

While we’re apt to sound out the world-class general and distinctive materials maintained by the Libraries, these resources are just a single galaxy in a greater universe of extraordinary collections across UT campus.

In the first of its kind accounting, the University of Texas Press has just released a massive assemblage of the rare, unique and exceptional collections that reside on the Forty Acres in the form of The Collections, a necessarily significant tome documenting the various holdings — recognizable and not so — from around UT.

Represented in the book are Libraries mainstays such as the Benson Latin American Collection, the Alexander Architectural Archive, the PCL and Walter Geological Map Collections and the Historical Music Recordings Collection, as well as highlights from discrete collections across the branches.

The book features hundreds of items from more than 80 collections campus-wide, covering a range of subject areas: archaeology, ethnography, fine and performing arts, rare books and manuscripts, decorative arts, photography, film, music, popular and material culture, regional and political history, natural history, science and technology.

Edited by Andrée Bober with the support of more than 350 staff from across the university, The Collections features a foreword by UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves and a historical introduction by Lewis Gould, professor emeritus of American history, whose essay traces the formation of the collections and acknowledges many people whose visions are manifest in these material resources.

The Collections is available now through UT Press, and will be in the stacks at the Fine Arts Library soon.

You Are Everywhere – The PCL Map Collection

PCL Map Collection

“Who does not have etched in the mind images of countries and of the world based on maps?”

– John Noble Wilford, The Mapmakers

It’s certainly the case that our perception of the world’s geography is rooted in our experience with the maps we’ve encountered, developed and designed over eons by both hand and machine. Even though we may have become increasingly reliant on disembodied voices to lead us where we need to go, the archetype for understanding the concept of location which we carry in our minds was instilled by the road guides of family vacations, massive retractable world maps of the elementary classroom and spinning globes of our past.

Equal parts art and science, maps are one of the most effective methods for conveying information visually in virtually any field of inquiry. In the miniaturization of space that is necessary to explain vast areas on a personal scale is a documentation of history and of change; of character and personality, value and values; of plant and animal; of health and illness, feast and famine; of motion and stasis; and of nearly any aspect of life and place that can be categorized for better understanding the world in which we live.

PCL Map Collection manager Katherine Strickland assists a patron
PCL Map Collection manager Katherine Strickland assists a patron.

And that, perhaps, is what makes the map collection at the Perry-Castañeda Library so incredibly valuable. Its scope in both size and subject is immense enough to maintain an intrinsic value — both as historical artifact and as a tool of modern research and reference — that goes unaffected by the passage of time.

Though the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is considered a general collection, it’s anything but. Residing on the first floor of the university’s flagship library, it features more than 250,000 cartographic items representing all areas of the world. And its online component is not only one of the most highly visited websites at the university — garnering nearly 8 million visits annually — but is in the top ten most popular results for a Google search of “maps.”

The university began informally collecting maps previously — at the General Libraries, but also through efforts at the Geology Library, the Barker Texas History Center and the Benson Latin American Collection — but it wasn’t until the PCL opened in 1977 that the Map Collection was established on the first floor of the building as an independent collection.

The core of the collection emerged with the acquisition of the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which date from the late 19th century and cover the entire United States, U.S. territories and other parts of the world where governments contracted U.S.G.S. for mapping, such as Saudi Arabia.

Topographic map of Singapore Island, 1941.
Topographic map of Singapore Island, 1941.

Since then, the collection has grown to feature military maps from various conflicts around the world, government nautical and aeronautical charts, topographic collections, city maps representing over 5,000 cities around the world, aerospace navigation charts, data and demographic maps, and just about every other conceivable type of physical cartography.

The collection also houses an extensive collection of atlases, from a street atlas of El Paso to the National Atlas of India. The library also purchases commercial and foreign government-issued topographic map series, country, city and thematic maps. The collection also includes a small but popular collection of plastic raised-relief maps and globes, not only of earth, but of the Moon, planets and other various celestial bodies.

Most of the maps in the collection date from 1900 to the present, and the collection is constantly being updated with newer materials, and complements a number of significant historical map collections housed on campus in the Center for American History (historical maps of Texas), the Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center and the Walter Geology Library.

Paul Rascoe — the Libraries’ Documents, Maps, & Electronic Info Services Librarian — has been the driving force behind the collection at PCL, especially in the formulation and execution of the collection’s online component. And it hasn’t hurt to have the planets align, at times.

“In 1994, we decided that we were going to scan maps,” says Rascoe. “We had a Macintosh computer and a Mac scanner, which I believe cost $100. We had a plan to put them in sort of a web menuing system called Gopher, but fortunately, simultaneously with our wanting to put maps online, the first web browser was introduced in that year.” Continue reading

Where Ya Headed?

Texas, 1839. Thomas Gamaliel Bradford. PCL Map Collection.

Ars Technica has written about a great new map resource website (Old Maps Online) with a rather unique user interface, one that allows the user to zoom in on an area à la Google Earth, and providing a selection of different types of enlargeable maps related to the selected area. The site was conceived through a a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland, and utilizes maps from the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Czech Republic’s Moravian Library and the San Francisco Bay Area’s David Rumsey Map Collection.

Not overlooked in the article, our own PCL Map Collection gets a mention:

Having such a large collection of cartographic history in one place and accessible by anyone with a browser is extraordinary enough. But it’s not the only online map collection of note. The University of Texas’s Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection has been a familiar online companion from the early days.

A Dubious Anniversary

It’s hard to believe it has already been five years since Hurricane Katrina nearly leveled the Big Easy.

Next Tuesday (8/31), the Libraries will host a novel event to mark the occasion of the fifth anniversary and reflect on the costliest natural disaster in American history.

The interactive program and exhibit – Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years Later – will take place in the Map Collection on the first floor of the PCL, and will feature relevant Libraries resources like maps, books and video along with presentations by both faculty and experts familiar with the past and current state of the affected areas.

Speakers scheduled to participate include, Dr. Robert Gilbert, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; Joyce Shaw, Head Librarian, Gunter Library, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi (via Skype); Mr. Troy Kimmel, Jr., Department of Geography; and Dr. James McClelland, Marine Science Institute and Environmental Science Institute (via Skype).

The event is free and open to the public, and takes place from 11:30am-1:30pm, so please drop by, have some New Orleans-style café au lait and join in the discussion.

Maps Make Reference Top 30

kabul_tpc92The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection gets a lot of use.

With its more than 25,000 maps digitized to date, that makes the collection the largest in the public domain, and it also means that the PCL Map Collection website gets a lot of visits…about 20 million pageviews in the last year alone.

In the past we’ve been alerted to high-profile users such as the United Nations (in the prosecution of Khmer Rouge) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as well as regional and national news agencies, accessing the collections.

Now, the American Library Association has taken notice.

The Reference and User Services Association division of ALA has named the PCL Maps website as one of it’s 30 Best Free Reference Web Sites for 2010.