Nick Bauch, Launching Enchanting the Desert, May 16, 2016

Current Events  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Talk with Chet Van Duzer: New Research on Urbano Monte’s 1587 World Map 

Chet van Duzer and a Composite Image from Manuscript Wall Map of the World by Urbano Monte, 1587.

On February 13th, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host a talk with Chet Van Duzer about his research on Urbano Monte's World Map from 1587.

Chet Van Duzer is an independent American historian of cartography specializing in medieval and Renaissance maps -- mappaemundi, nautical charts, and the maps in Ptolemy's Geography -- with an emphasis on determining the sources that cartographers used for the texts, images, and geographical features on maps. He is also a board member of the Lazarus Project that focuses on multispectral imaging of cultural heritage objects. In 2018, he completed a three-month research fellowship at the David Rumsey Map Center and the John Carter Brown Library focused on the Urbano Monte planisphere. The fellowship was made possible by a donation from David and Abby Rumsey. 

The talk will cover the context for Urbano Monte's interest in cartography generally, Japan specifically, and examine possible sources of Monte's place names in Japan.

Doors open: 2.30 pm

Event: 3.00 - 4.00 pm

Center Closes: 4.30 pm

The talk is free but requires advance registration. Please register here.


February 1415, 2019 | Conference on 'Mapping the Global Imaginary, 15001900'


From Vernunfftmässige Beschribung der Erd-Kugel, Theodor Schoon, Zürich: 169-. Image courtesy of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

On February 14th15th, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host a two-day conference on 'Mapping and the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900'. The conference is co-sponsored by the Stanford History DepartmentGlobal History & Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, England, UK, and the David Rumsey Map Center.

When mapping on a global scale, the line between factual and fictitious landscape quickly blurs. The speakers of ‘Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900’ cross this blurry boundary into every continent, as well as purely speculative ones, to share a host of cartographic enterprises. From the imaginary Kobitojima Island propagated by Edo cartographers to the armchair geography seeking to define colonial Africa, to efforts at mapping airspace itself, topics probe the extent and diversity of challenge and license inherent in mapmaking from a (cognitive) distance. 
Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University), author The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories, will present the keynote address. Panel speakers include Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi, Zoltán Biedermann, Nathan Braccio, Corin Braga, Jordana Dym, Matthew Edney, Quintana Heathman, David Lambert, Carla Lois, Ewa Machotka, Bertie Mandelblatt, Erika Monahan, Luca Scholz, Chet Van Duzer, and Bram Vannieuwenhuyze.
‘Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900’ will take place February 14—15, 2019, at Stanford’s renowned David Rumsey Map Center. Founded in April 2016, the Rumsey Map Center houses a large collection of historic maps, atlases, and their digital surrogates, as well as state-of-the-art facilities for digital projection and display.



DAY ONE (Thursday Feb. 14)

12:30 - 1:00 Doors open; Registration

1:00 - 1:15 G. Salim Mohammed, Welcome and Housekeeping;  Kären Wigen - (Department of History, Stanford University): Opening remarks

1:15 - 2:15 Panel 1 - Filling in the blanks

Erika Monahan (University of New Mexico): “Appropriating Blank Spots: Witsen’s Use of Remesov’s Siberian Maps”

Zoltán Biedermann (University College London): “Drawing Lines to Tame the Unknown: A Typology of Littorals in Early Modern Maps”


2:30 - 4:00 Panel 2 - The fifth part of the world: 3-person panel

Carla Lois (University of Buenos Aires): “Quinta pars or terra incognita? Verisimilitude in the Cartographic Representation of the Unknown”

Chet Van Duzer (Independent): “Imagined Territories Around the South Pole: The Southern Ring Continent, 1515-1554”

Corin Braga (Babes-Bolyai University): “The Invention of Terra Australis Incognita”


4:00 - 4:15 Discussion

 4:15 - 5:15 Reception in the Rotunda

 5:15 – 5:30 Kären Wigen: Introduction of Keynote Address

 5:30 - 6:30 Keynote Address


Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University): “Going Artfully Global”

 6:30 - 7:00 Q & A / Discussion

 7:30 pm  doors close




9:30 am - doors open

10:00 - 11:00 Panel 3 - Colonial fantasies

 Bertie Mandelblatt (The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University): “Potato Pieces, Bananeries and Jardins à nègres: Mapping Colonial Fantasies of Self-Sufficiency in Plantation America”

 Nathan Braccio (University of Connecticut): “English Fantasies of Indigenous Deeds: The Strategic English Employment of Maps and Algonquians”

 11:15 - 12:15 Panel 4 - Archepelagic visions

 Quintana Heathman (Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis): “The Imaginary Island of Kobitojima in Japanese Maps and Books of the Edo Period”

 Ewa Machotka (Stockholm University): “Vernacular Mapping: Early Modern Imaginaries of Lake Biwa in a Computational Perspective”

 12:30 - 1:30 Panel 5 - Conjured cities

 Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi (University of California, Riverside): “It ‘Looks Well on Paper’: Mapmaking, Lagos and the Colonial Archive”

 Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (University of Amsterdam): “Assessing and Explaining the Imaginative Nature of Early Modern City and Story Maps”

 1:30 - 2:45 Lunch Break

 2:45 - 3:45 Panel 6 - Enduring tropes of travel

 Jordana Dym (Skidmore College): “Mapping Sentiment and Expectations: Itinerary Maps and Western Visions of Spanish America”

 David Lambert (University of Warwick): “Imaginary Africa: Armchair Geographers, Romantic Writers and Visions of the ‘Dark Continent’”

 4:00 - 5:00 Panel 7 - Earth - Air - Water

 Matthew Edney (University of Southern Maine): “Positioning the Earth in the Eighteenth Century: Mapping the Cosmographical and Terraqueous Globes”

 Luca Scholz (Stanford University): “Mapping Airspace”

 5:00 - 5:30 Discussion

 5:30 - 5:45 Closing remarks

 6:00 pm - doors close


Note: Attendance is free and open to the public and includes a reception at Green Library on Thursday, February 14th, 2019. Pre-registration is required, please register here.






Monday, March 4, 2019 | Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad featuring the 66-foot-long Judah Map | Talks by Richard White and Hilton Obenzinger 

 On March 4, 2019, The David Rumsey Map Center will host a pop-up exhibit of the Judah Map and talks by Richard White and Hilton Obenzinger.


Created by Theodore D. Judah in 1861, this manuscript map titled: Central Pacific Railroad Proposed Alignment Map (aka the Judah Map) measures 2.5 feet wide by 66 feet long. The map is on loan from the California State Archives for digitization at Stanford Libraries. We will begin the event with a pop-up exhibit of the actual map and the digital companion image. The map is composed of four maps in one continuous roll titled Barmore Station to Clipper Gap, Rattlesnake Bluffs to the summit of the Sierra Nevada; from the summit to the Truckee River; and Dutch Flat to Rattlesnake Bluffs respectively.  Each map includes a table of alignments and Judah's proposed route, part of which were not built on this alignment. 

The pop-up exhibit will be followed by talks with Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford and author of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America and followed by a talk with Hilton Oberzinger, Associate Director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford.

Tentative Schedule:

Doors open: 2 pm

Pop Up Exhibit:  2 - 3 pm

Richard White Talk: 3.15 pm

Hilton Obenzinger Talk: 4 pm

Center Closes: 4.45 pm

The talk is free but requires advance registration. Please register here.


Deadline Approaching! : California Map Society / Rumsey Map Center Student Essay Competition

We are submissions for the California Map Society Student Essay Competition. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in California that use the Center's map resources in a substantive way. 

Submission Deadline: 9 AM  PST on March 11, 2019

Winner Notification: the winner will be notified the week of April 8, 2019.

Winner Paper Presentation: May 10, 2019 - Rumsey Map Center and May 11, 2019 - Southern California location.

For competition rules, submission guidelines and links, please visit this page.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Talk with Betsy Mason: All Over the Map

Betsy Mason and cover image from All Over the Map: A Cartography Odyssey

On March 6, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host a talk with Betsy Mason about All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey.

Betsy Mason is an award-winning science journalist who writes about everything from animal behavior to particle physics. She also writes about maps and has co-written a cartography blog at Wired and National Geographic with Greg Miller for five years. Mason and Miller’s new book All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey (National Geographic) is a gorgeously illustrated collection of intriguing stories about maps, mapmakers, and cartography. It features more than 200 maps from all over the globe and throughout history, including the original plans for Washington D.C., 19th-century maps of neural circuits, and the elusive schematics for the Death Star. Betsy will share the stories behind several of her favorite maps in the book, including some from the David Rumsey Map Center.

Doors open: 2.30 pm
Event: 3.00 - 4.00 pm
Center Closes: 4.30 pm

The talk is free but requires advance registration. Please register here.


Friday, May 10, 2019 | California Map Society / Rumsey Map Center Annual Lecture and Student Essay Competition Winner Talks

Stephen Hornsby and Cover of Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps

On May 10, 2019 our annual lecture series co-sponsored by the California Map Society will feature Dr. Stephen Hornsby, director of the Canadian-American Center and Professor of Geography and Canadian Studies at the University of Maine. His research focuses on the historical geography of northeastern North America and the Atlantic world, and on the history of cartography. He has written and co-edited several prize-winning books, including Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J.F.W. Des Barres, and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune (2011), Historical Atlas of Maine (2015), and Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (2017).  Among his current research projects and the subject of his talk is the impact of the hippie counter-culture on popular cartography. This topic should appeal to those interested in the history of American cartography and who lived through and experienced the hippie movement in the Bay area.

The Rumsey Center program will also feature the winner of the California Map Society/Rumsey Map Center Graduate Student Essay Competition 


Doors open 2.30 pm

3.00 pm: TBD: Student Essay Competition Winner

4.00 pm: Professor Stephen Hornsby

5.30 pm: Center Closes 

The talks are free but require advanced registration. Please register here.


David Rumsey Map Center Use Guidelines 

Past Events

  • December 6, 2018, Dr. Ed Lu: Charting the High Frontier of Space. For more information visit this page.
  • November 6th, 2018, Mapping Activism. For more information please visit this page and explore the Activism@Stanford exhibit.
  • November 5th, 2018, Panel Discussion: Nature in the City Map. For more information please visit this page.
  • October 24th, 2018, Drawing a continent by hand: a pictorial map of North America. For more information please visit this page.
  • October 18th, 2018, Historical Atlas of Hasidism by Professor Marcin Wodziński. For more information please visit this page. 
  • April 24th, 2018, Understanding Ice: The James B. Case Memorial Symposium. For more information please visit this page.
  • April 5th, 2018, California Map Society Annual Talks and Essay Competition Winner. Men, Myths, and Maps by Imre Demhardt; and Enlightened cartography: Mapping Imperial Russia by Ken Neff.
    For more information visit this page. 
  • March 15th, 2018, Exemplars of Cartography through maps of the Holy Lands. For more information explore the digital collection in Seachworks.
  • March 5th, 2018, Student Activism at Stanford: Map Launch. For more information explore the Activism@Stanford exhibit.
  • February 23, 2018, Making the World Go 'Round: How Urbano Monte Created his Map of 1587. For more information visit this page. 
  • December 7, 2017, Petr Pridal Talk: Old Maps Online, GIS, and Cutting-Edge Technology. For more please visit this page.
  • November 15, 2017, GIS Day. For more, please visit this page.
  • Asian Representations and Constructions of Space
  • May 10, 2018, Maps and Ships: Maritime Trade in the China Seas from the 16th to 18th Centuries. For more information visit this page.
  • March 15, 2018, Visualizing Time and Space through Foreign Eyes in Medieval China: From the Śārdūlakarāvadāna to Amoghavajra’s Xiuyao jing. For more information visit this page.
  • February 12, 2018, Illuminating the World before 1492: China, the Islamic World, and the Cross-Cultural Mapping of Asia; for more information visit this page.
  • October 12, 3pm-5pm; Eric Huntington (Postdoctoral Fellow, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford): "Frames of Scale and Geo-Spatial Transformations in the Buddhist Maṇḍala”. For more, visit this page.
  • October 26, 10am-12pm; Jon Felt (Assistant Professor of History, Brigham Young University): "The Empire and the Ecumene: Regionalism After the Han Empire" For more, visit this page.
  • November 27, 10am-12pm; a Joint session with Kären Wigen (Professor of History, Stanford University) and D. Max Moerman (Professor of Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University): "Imagining 'Asia': Foreign and Native Worldviews in Constructions of Early Modern Japanese Cartography”. For more, please visit this page.
  • November 10, 2017, Time in Space: Representing Time in Maps.  For further information, visit this website.Barry Lawrence Ruderman Conference on Cartography, October 19-21, 2017. For more more information, go to the website here.
  • May 20th, 2017, 8.30 am - 9 pm: California Map Society Meeting (One Day Conference, including map talks): Registration and fees. Please visit this page for details.
  • May 4th, 2017, 6 pm: Essay Competition Winner + Richard Brown and Paul Cohen Talk: Free, but registration required. Please Visit this page for details.