On the Map

MapCarleton now owns 42 early-printed German maps from the 15th to 18th centuries that illustrate city and regional views of the Brandenburg area. They’re a gift from Thomas Hughes ’47, an amateur German historian who was the assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and spent 20 years as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The map collection, which was begun by Hughes’s great-great-grandfather and augmented over the years, includes several originals of facsimiles that Carleton already owns.

MapHistory professor Victoria Morse, who directs Carleton’s medieval and Renaissance studies program, says the maps showcase developing cartographic techniques, such as the use of mileage charts and attempts to show a city at four different times of day. She and other faculty members plan to use them as teaching tools in various history courses. The maps also offer students research opportunities to learn more about the cartographers who drew them or about the book in which each map was published. 

“Original sources bring home the reality of the past for students,” says Morse, who is using the map collection in a spring seminar. “And students will be able to make meaningful contributions to what we know about these maps.”

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