17 October 2014

SHD Members talk about Mapping the U.S.

The "Great American Desert" notation of the
Great Plains from Maj. Stephen Long's expedition.
North Texas PBS station KERA offers an audio interview of three map scholars and SHD members: University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) special collections curator Ben Huseman; Texas Map Society president Gerald Saxon; and Imre Dembardt, Professor of Cartographic History at UTA. Part of their radio series Think with host Krys Boyd, these scholars present a look at how maps relay information about American society as the United States has changed and expanded.

A new issue of the SHD newsletter Terrae Cognita

The latest issue of the SHD newsletter Terrae Cognita has been published here.  You'll find abstracts for the upcoming meeting in Austin, and other member news.  Happy reading!

Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus

World map of Henricus Martellus Germanus from 1489,
currently at the British Library.
"Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus" by Gregg Miller at Wired

10 September 2014

Franklin's Lost Expedition Found

Man Proposes, God Disposes by Edwin Henry Landseer, 1864.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Canadian researchers say they have discovered the wreckage of one of the ship's from Captain Sir John Franklin's lost 1845-1846 Arctic expedition, solving one of the major exploration mysteries of the Victorian Era.  Franklin's team was locked in the ice during a doomed expedition searching for a passage through the islands of northern Canada, the famed Northwest Passage.  All of the crew members eventually died.  The remains of the expedition were never found, though numerous search parties were sent out to look for them.  Researchers are not yet sure if they have found the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror, but they have good views of the wreck under the waters of Victoria Strait, just off King William Island.

11 August 2014

The Ninth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography

The link below is the announcement and registration brochure for the 2014 Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography/Map Fair of the West.

13 July 2014

55th Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Preliminary information of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries  to be held 30 October - 2 November 2014 in Austin, Texas is available at: http://www.sochistdisc.org/2014_annual_meeting.htm  

More information will be posted in the coming months.

17 May 2014

The wreck of Columbus's flagship found?

The anchor of the Santa María now rests in the
Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Underwater archaeologist Barry Clifford has recently announced the discovery of what he believes is the Santa María, Christopher Columbus's flagship from his epochal 1492 expedition.  Clifford and his team found the debris from the wreckage off the northern coast of Haiti, near Cap-Haïtien.

The ship was wrecked on Christmas Eve, 1492, and sank the next day, after a cabin boy was allowed to steer because all the other sailors were asleep from the festivities of the day.  Columbus ordered the deck timbers salvaged to create the first European settlement in the Caribbean, named La Navidad ("Christmas").  Archaeological evidence has located La Navidad nearby.

Clifford believes the remains of the Santa María are lodged on a coral reef about ten to fifteen feet below the water's surface.  Photos of the site in 2003 show a lombard canon, which Clifford avers has now been looted from the site.  Clifford says that, "All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus' famous flagship, the Santa Maria."

Laurence Bergreen, author of Columbus: The Four Voyages, is more skeptical.  He wonders how much of the ship would remain, given its age, the influence of earthquakes and hurricanes, and that most of the wood from the ship was used for La Navidad (and want was not used for lumber, he believes, would have rotted away).  Bergreen also comments on the lombard canon from 2003 have disappeared: "But now the lombards, if that's what they were, are gone. There's not much left to go on."

Clifford has tried to interest the Haitian government in protecting and excavating the site.  He said, "The Haitian government has been extremely helpful–and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck."  Bergreen agrees that more investigation is needed: "Given its potential historic significance, let's hope this wreck will finally receive the careful and responsible attention it deserves."