Jacques Nicolas Bellin the elder (1703-1772) et al.Carte réduite des Isles de la Guadeloupe, Marie Galante et les Saintes…Copperplate engraving (with hand coloring) on paper, 60.5 x 87.5 cm.,1759, from Bellin, Hydrographie Françoise (2 vols.; Paris: Bellin, 1756-1765), vol. 2, plate 78.Virginia Garrett Cartographic History Library, UT Arlington

The Theme of the Lectures

“Pearls of the Antilles: Maps of Caribbean Islands” is the theme for the Eighth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography and the accompanying exhibit at UT Arlington Library’s Special Collections. The focus of the event is maps,and how they reflect and shaped the histories of Caribbean islands. The lectures will take place at UT Arlington's campus on October 5, 2012.


Read about the lectures...

David Buisseret, former holder of the Garrett Endowed Chair on the History of Cartography and widely published in the histories of both cartography and the Caribbean, will begin with a presentation on the “Spanish Foundations of Caribbean Cartography.” After introducing the medieval portolan chart tradition in Iberia, Professor Buisseret will discuss charts from the Columbus period, indigenous contributions, the establishment of the navigation school at Seville, the stages of the master map (padrón real), Spanish manuscripts and German editions, and the mapping of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico (1519), and briefly touch on subsequent cartography of the Caribbean. 

John D. Garrigus, Associate Professor of History, UT Arlington, and an expert in the French Caribbean, will present “After Mountains, More Mountains: French Cartography and Topography of the Antilles, 1600-1800.” In this presentation, Professor Garrigus will analyze maps of France’s Caribbean islands, and describe why mapping was so important to attempts to hold the French empire together after the loss of Canada in the French and Indian War.

Max Edelson, Associate Professor of History and co-director of the Early American Seminar at the University of Virginia, will present “Settling the Ceded Islands: Cartography and Colonization in the British West Indies, 1763-1786.” These include the islands of Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago, and how through mapping, the British imagined how these islands could be claimed, developed, and reconstituted as colonies in an era of imperial war. 

Daniel Hopkins, Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Missouri at Kansas City will present “Cartography and Cadastre in a Slave-Plantation Society: Eighteenth-Century Maps of St. Croix, Danish West Indies (U.S. Virgin Islands).” He will show how the mapping of the island of St. Croix heavily relied upon the pattern of taxed landholdings superimposed by the Danish colonial administration back in the 1730s.

S. Blair Hedges, Professor of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, will present “Solving biological questions with historical maps of Caribbean islands.” Having developed an online web resource for exploring Caribbean cartography (www.caribmap.org) in addition to his numerous accomplishments in evolutionary biology, Professor Hedges will here trace some of the complex history of Caribbean toponyms found on maps and demonstrate how these are important in determining where old but important museum specimens were collected.

Accompanying the lectures is an exhibit at UT Arlington Library’s Special Collections titled “Pearls of the Antilles: Printed Maps of Caribbean Islands,” featuring over seventy maps and prints, drawn solely from the collections at UT Arlington.  The exhibit will run from August 2012 through January 2013. 

Attendees to the lectures are also invited to attend the Texas Map Society’s Fall Meeting at the University of Texas at Arlington Library Sixth Floor Parlor the following day, on Saturday, October 6.  There will be an overall Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico theme to most of these presentations as well. Among the featured speakers for the TMS meeting will be Jim Bruseth, who will be presenting “How Maps Doomed a Seventeenth-Century French Expedition and Enabled a Twentieth-Century Shipwreck Discovery: The Story of La Salle’s Ship La Belle.”  Professor Bruseth is the former director of the archaeology division at the Texas Historical Commission that sponsored the excavation of La Belle, one of the most exciting recent finds in the history of North American archaeology.  For further details on the Texas Map Society’s meeting see their website at http://www.texasmapsociety.org/events.html.