Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1996


Published in Great Plains Research 6:2 (Fall 1996). Copyright © 1996 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Researchers have only slowly recognized the possibilities and pitfalls of using maps as cultural artifacts. Only recently have historians of cartography shown that embedded in every map is valuable information about the cartographer and the society that produced it. Still, there is almost no literature on how editol's have influenced the shape of early and historical atlases. Editing Early and Historical Atlases is intended to scrutinize this lacuna. In their approach, however, most of its articles use the lenses of traditional historiography.

The four articles in the first section-by James Akerman, Walter Goffart, Mary Pedley, and Anne Godlewska-provide a historiography of early and historical atlases from the emergence of the atlas idea in the late sixteenth century to the mid nineteenth century, by which time conventions in editing historical atlases now taken for granted were established. These articles trace the various remarkable men and milestone collections that transformed "books of(or with) maps to books as maps." In this regard the essays are highly successful.