Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 6:4 (Fall 1986). Copyright © 1986 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Frequently old maps are gathered and reproduced in folio volumes that have little scholarly value but that make handsome coffee table displays. In Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, James and Robert Martin have produced an excellent book on the history of cartography that will be of benefit to current and future collectors and students but that is much more than another coffee table volume. The book goes beyond a simple reproduction of old maps on Texas and the Southwest. The authors have done an admirable job of researching the historical record, not only for old maps, but also about: 1) the history of cartography and cartographers, 2) the problems of printing maps, 3) map trade, and 4) the history of exploration, colonization and settlement in Texas and the Southwest. Few historians have bothered to organize a set of maps systematically and chronologically and then to analyze them carefully to document changes that have occurred through time. It is exactly here that Martin and Martin's book makes a contribution for they have diligently researched the maps, the cartographers who drafted them, and the technology available. This information is presented with an analysis of those maps, showing in particular how geographic knowledge of the region accrued over time. It is these points that make this volume an important contribution.