Sketch Maps: From Geographical Societies to Empires

Authors: Michele Abee*, Western Oregon University
Topics: History of Geography
Keywords: History of Geography, History of Cartography, Maps
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 4
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


During the 1800’s, Europe’s newly founded geographical societies were a significant part of intellectual life. These institutions were unique in that they housed and expanded resorts of discoveries, exploration, and funded expeditions. Larger expeditions, however, were partnered with and funded by government institutions. Maps were an indispensable component of reports updated and published by geographical societies. The use of these mass produced reports also served as another means to develop information and analytic tools for geographic research. While the history of geographical societies is well-documented, a lesser known aspect of them is the role of the tools used by their members to report information and distribute knowledge to their peers, and government institutions. This paper examines some of these tools, such as maps and projections used by geographical societies, in order to better understand how geographic knowledge was codified, distributed, and used as tools of growing European empires--including, but not limited how these tools served to influence the mentality of European settlers and territorial claims for empires. Furthermore, this paper will illustrate how something as seemingly innocuous as a map projection served as a means to expand empire territoriality.

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