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53rd Annual Meeting
Huntington Library/Pasadena, California
27, 28, 29, and 30 September 2012

SHD Annual Meeting 2012
Final Program

Abstracts
Meeting Photos

Abstracts of Papers to Be Delivered at
The 53rd Annual Meeting of
The Society for the History of Discoveries
Huntington Library/San Marino, California
September 27-29, 2012

ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY BY AUTHOR



Missionary Cartography of Tarahumara

Mirela Altic

The first regional map of the Mexican province of Tarahumara (now in the Mexican state of Chihuahua) was compiled in 1683 by the Croatian Jesuit and missionary Ivan Rattkay (Veliki Tabor, Croatia, 22 May 1647 – Jesús Cárichic, Mexico, 26 December 1683). During his three-year stay as a missionary in Mexico (1680–1683), Rattkay visited almost every village in the province of Tarahumara. Based on this, in March 1683 he compiled a detailed description of this northern Mexico province, its peoples and its customs. He appended to this description a manuscript map compiled on the basis of own field observations and measurements. The map was drawn using the mathematical base and, in addition to the physical and geographical elements, depicted all missions and their outposts, as well as Spanish forts and names of the neighboring indigenous groups. Though the map was characteristic for the early stages of the missionary cartography, it was a pioneering work which, because of the cruel fate that befell the author who died under mysterious circumstances in December 1683, unfortunately remained unpublished and not valorized by his contemporaries nor his successors (the description, together with the map, was sent to the Superior General of the Jesuit order in Rome, where it is kept to this day).

Based on original research of the author, paper analyzes the contents of the 1683 map of the Tarahumara province as the first regional map of that area compiled on the basis of field observations. Special attention will be paid to comparative analysis of the Rattkay’s map with the contents of his written works (description of the land, private letters with his observations etc.). The paper further explores the map's possible role models and evaluates its importance for the history of cartography of Mexico as well as for the history of missionary cartography in general.

Biographical Sketch:  Prof. dr. Mirela Altic, is a senior research fellow in the Institute of Social Sciences Zagreb, Croatia, where she works as a Head of the Centre of Urban and Local History. She specializes in historical geography, historical cartography, urban and local history. At the Department of History of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, as associated professor, Dr Altic´ lectures on ‘Introduction to the Reading of Historic Maps’ and ‘Cartographic Sources for European and Croatian History’. She is also participating in education at postgraduate studies at the Department of History. Occasionally, Dr Altic´ teaches in universities in foreign countries. She has been the head of Croatian national project, ‘Historic Towns Atlas’, since 2003. She is also the author of 12 books, including five volumes of the Croatian Historic Towns Atlas. In 2004, she won the annual prize for science for her book ‘Historical Cartography: Cartographic Sources in Historical Sciences’. Dr Altic is a member of the ICA Commission on the History of Cartography.


The Assassination of the Sieur de Royville and the Debacle of the Compagnie de l’Amerique Equinoxiale, 1653-1656

Gayle Brunelle

The  “Compagnie de l’Amerique” was a joint-stock company based in Paris and created in 1652 for the purpose of establishing a French colony at Cayenne in what is today French Guiana.  The Compagnie de l’Amerique was founded under the sponsorship of a theologian from the Sorbonne, the Abbé Marivault, the Sieur Le Roux de Royville, from Normandy, and several important officers and robe nobles in Paris, including the Secretary of the Marine, La Boulaye, and Jean-Jacques Dolu, grand audiencier at the court and Intendant of New France in 1620 (Champlain was his Lieutenant-General).  The company sponsored 800 colonists, including for the first time in South America, women, and brought farmers and artisans as well as soldiers to Guiana.  The intention was to establish a viable plantation colony that eventually would import African slave labor if the Indians could not be made to work on the plantations.  On the surface, the colony seemed to be better funded than previous French colonization efforts in Guiana, with powerful sponsors at court and a sufficient number of colonists to succeed.  In what was probably a bad omen, however, Marivault himself was unable to make the journey, having drowned while trying to board the ship in the harbor at Honfleur.

The colony began to disintegrate even prior to landing in Cayenne.  During the crossing from France, a number of adventurers from the petty nobility in the expedition became increasingly suspicious of the expedition’s leader, Le Roux de Royville.  The soldiers and sailors participating in the expedition murdered Royville and threw his body overboard before the French ships even reached their destination.  Unfortunately that episode was just the beginning of the tensions and conflict that became rife within the colony and between it and the native Galibí.  Internal disputes erupted within the colony as well, and when it emerged that the Compagnie de l’Amerique actually did not have royal backing, it went bankrupt and the colony disintegrated.

The Compagnie de l’Amerique spawned two lawsuits, one filed by Royville’s family and the other by Nicolas Papin, a royal physician who was persuaded to invest in the enterprise and ended up bankrupted as a result.  This paper will be based on the deposition of Charles Fremin, accused of the murder of Royville, which can be found in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Thoisy 89, and on the story of the murder as recounted by Jacques de Laon, Sieur d’Aigremont, an eyewitness and, most probably, one of the conspirators.  D’Aigremont published his account in 1654. “The Assassination of the Sieur de Royville” will tell the story of the assassination and its impact on the subsequent self-destruction of the colony and bankruptcy of the company.  It also will analyze the causes of the crime and extent to which its roots lay in the way in which French colonial expeditions were organized and financed.  

Biographical Sketch: Gayle K. Brunelle earned her Ph.D. from Emory University, and is a professor of history at California State University, Fullerton.  She is the author of three books [The New World Merchants of Rouen, 1559-1630. Volume Sixteen, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, (Kirksville, Missouri:  Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers/Truman State University Press, 1991); Murder in the Métro:  Laetitia Toureaux and the Cagoule, co-authored with Annette Finley-Croswhite, (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 2010); and Samuel de Champlain:  Founder of New France, (New York: Bedford/Saint Martin’s Press, 2012)] and numerous articles and book chapters [most recently:  “Jewish Jews and Catholic Jews.  “Confessionalization and Portuguese New Christians in Early Modern Rouen,” in Trouver sa place.  Individus et communautés dans l’Europe modern, Antoine Roullet, Olivier Spina et Nathalie Szczech, eds., Collection de la Casa de Velázquez, Vol. 124, (Madrid:  Casa de Velázquez, 2011):  101-116 ; "Assimilation and Economic Activities of Iberian Women in Early Modern France, 1550-1560," forthcoming Brill as part of the volume Women in Port Cities: Gendering Communities, Economies, and Social Networks in Atlantic Port Cities, 1500-1800].  Gayle is a member of the editorial board of the University of Florida Press book series, “New World Diasporas,” General Editor, Kevin Yelvington, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida.  This series publishes monographs in history, anthropology, and cultural and gender studies, on the Atlantic World, 1995 to present.  She is currently working on two books:  Tropical Chimeras:  France in Guiana, 1604-1676, a monograph study of France’s efforts to colonize French Guiana in the 17th century.  


The Influence of Marquette and Jolliet on the Mapping of North America

David Buisseret

European cartographic concepts of the Great Lakes about 1670 – the voyage from Green Bay to the Arkansas River, 1673 -  the emergence of differing maps – the characteristics of the Marquette and Jolliet maps – maps deriving from the Marquette model : Manitoumie 1 and 2 – the Nicolas map- the Thévenot map (the repercussions on Delisle and the progressive effacement of Indian toponyms) -  maps deriving from the Jolliet model : MS maps in the John Carter Brown Library – the Randin map – Jolliet’s collaboration with Franquelin (eventual bearing on the maps showing westward displacement of the mouth of the Mississippi River).

Biographic Sketch: David Buisseret is Senior Research Fellow, The Newberry Library, Chicago. He was President of SHD from 1991 – 1993.  He is Book Review Editor of Terrae Incognitae, and was the journal’s Editor from 1984 – 2007.


Endeavour in Australia: Crewing with Cook

John Delaney

Work on a full-scale replica of HMB Endeavour, Captain James Cook’s exploratory vessel during his first circumnavigation in 1768-1771, began in Freemantle, Australia, in 1988 to commemorate the Australian Bicentenary of European settlement on the continent; it was completed five years later. Ownership was transferred to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney in 2005, where it has become a museum ship. For the past thirteen months (2011-2012), Endeavour has been circumnavigating Australia. I was fortunate last year to join the ship as a crew member for the “Cook” leg along the northeast coast, from Cairns to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. My presentation will be a re-discovery of that perilous journey inside the Great Barrier Reef, from the floundering and almost complete loss of the ship on Endeavour Reef, to arrival at Possession Island at Australia’s most northern tip, where Cook claimed the continent for the British Crown. A powerpoint presentation of maps (Cook’s and more recent “official” ones) and photographs taken on and from the ship during the summer 2011 trip (and perhaps a small video) will help recreate and assess one of the important “discoveries” of that great navigator. This will be a literal, hands-on historic look at crew life from someone who spent ten days time-traveling back to the 18th century aboard the “real” ship.

Biographic Sketch: John Delaney has been curator of Historic Maps at Princeton University since 2003. (This is a part-time position: 80% of his official duties are related to manuscripts processing in the Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections). His cartographic interests in the Northwest Passage, European exploration of Africa, and the Pacific Ocean have culminated in exhibitions, companion volumes, and related websites.


La Balise: A Transimperial Focal Point

Justin T. Dellinger

From the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth century, the mouth of the Mississippi River became a place of imperial competition.  The British, French, and Spanish all sought to control this outlet, which effectively served as the gateway to the heart of North America.  Initially, Europeans had little understanding of what encompassed the entire Mississippi River Valley, but they did understand the importance of controlling major river systems for political, economic, and military reasons.  Economically, controlling the Mississippi River would mean that any major trade in the larger region would funnel down to its mouth.  As the French established control of this region, what they would call La Louisiane, they constructed a post called la Balise to serve as both an access point and a buffer for inter-imperial contact.  Balise means seamark or beacon in French, so its name is very appropriate since it became such an important focal point.  Although its original significance was political, economic, and military for French policy makers, the Balize later took on a larger meaning for the mouth of the Mississippi River.

This settlement is understudied and more work needs to take place researching this frontier within a frontier.  It never had a large population, it proved difficult to fortify, and it constantly faced obliteration from hurricanes, yet the Balize became a well-known, recognized location.  Seventeenth- through nineteenth-century maps provide an important visual representation of this phenomenon.  As this period progressed, maps illustrated the shift from the use of terms such as “embouchure”, “boca”, and “mouth” to “Balise”, Baliza”, and “Balize”.  Larger scale maps depicting continental North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean also evince how the Balize flanks and complements New Orleans as the distinct names along the Gulf Coast.  Both points illustrate the transimperial understanding of the role of the Balize as toponym for the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Biographic Sketch:  Justin T. Dellinger is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington.  He received his Bachelor’s Degrees in History and Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004.  After teaching for a few years, he returned to school and earned his Master’s Degree in History at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010.  His primary area of study is eighteenth-century Louisiana, employing transatlantic and cartographic approaches in his research.


“Everyone a mutineer”: the crisis of maritime labour in Spanish voyages of discovery and conquest in the Pacific, 1564-1566

Kristie Flannery

On 21 November 1564, Miguel López de Legazpi’s fleet of five ships set sail from New Spain’s Puerto Navidad for the Philippine Islands. Legazpi’s primary objective was to discover the return route from the Philippines to New Spain. This was an essential precondition to establishing a profitable permanent trade route between Spain’s American colonies and Asia. Legazpi also had orders to establish the first Spanish colony in the Philippines.

The expedition ultimately succeeded in meeting both of these objectives, yet this voyage of discovery and conquest was far from smooth sailing. My study of Legazpi’s expedition demonstrates that labour discipline posed a fundamental challenge to Spanish voyages of discovery in the sixteenth century Pacific world. I suggest that an emphasis on technological barriers to navigation in the early-modern period has influenced historians to overlook the disobedience of maritime workers as a key threat to maritime exploration and conquest.

My paper analyses two key incidents in Legazpi’s expedition. Both reveal the breakdown of established social shipboard hierarchies that threatened the expedition’s success. The absconding of the pinnacle San Lucas from fleet is the first of these incidents. During the night of 29 November the Basque Captain Don Alonso Arellano and Spanish mulatto Pilot Lopé Martin disregarded Legazpi’s orders to sail behind the flagship and began to race their small and fast-moving boat ahead of the fleet to the Philippine Islands. The San Lucas sailed alone to the Philippines and returned to New Spain weeks ahead of Legazpi’s party. The second incident is the extended mutiny of the San Lucas crew that occurred shortly after arriving in the Philippines. Arellano’s 1565 report to the Audiencia of México discusses this maritime rebellion in considerable depth. The narrative is a compelling one featuring treachery, treason, violence, revenge, and even miracles of God on the sandy shores of an unknown world.

Considering its entertainment value alone, it is surprising that historians have not previously discussed this fascinating account of shipboard rebellion. I pay particular attention to the colourful account of the negotiations that took place between the captain, the pilot, and the mutineers or ‘amotinados’, to consider the complex operation of power amongst this motley crew. I also briefly discuss the bloody mutiny on the San Jerónimo led by Lopé Martin on his second voyage to the Philippines in 1565. The ship was the first Manila Galleon carrying much needed supplies to Legazpi’s young colony.

Drawing on recent scholarship in Atlantic World maritime history, I argue that both acts of disobedience were caused by a combination of factors including the greedy desire for the prizes and honour granted to men responsible for important discoveries in this age of sail and the physical and psychological distance separating maritime workers in the Pacific from hubs of colonial authority. The unique power maritime workers derived in the isolated Pacific by virtue of their being irreplaceable also played a role. I argue that the crisis of labour is therefore a structural problem in voyages of discovery.

Biographical sketch: Kristie Flannery completed her Bachelor of Economic and Social Sciences with Honours (Class 1) in History at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her honours thesis was a social history of the great mutiny in the British Royal Navy of 1797. She is currently a graduate student in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include the social history of the Spanish Empire with a focus on port cities in New Spain and the Philippines, the connections between these spaces, and the sea.  She commenced her PhD in History in August 2011.


Discovery and Faith: Re-examining Claims about Pre-Columbian Muslims in America

Richard Francaviglia

The claim that Muslims reached, explored, and even settled the New World before Columbus has been debated for decades.  Barry Fell’s book America BC (1976) helped kindle interest in this subject, and several other popular books were published shortly thereafter.  Predictably, the topic has gained considerable traction since the Internet became available in the 1990s, and especially so since interest in, and concern about, Islam soared following events on 9/11 (2001). The premise that Muslims arrived in the New World more than 1,000 years ago usually posits a West African jumping-off point, and so the subject is closely linked to Afrocentric theories of migration. To the dismay of some educators, the premise of pre-Columbian Muslim migration has even found its way into school curricula. This presentation begins by summarizing the claims made by proponents of a pre-Columbian Muslim presence in the New World, as found in their books, magazine articles, and Websites.  After outlining these claims, several types of primary sources that proponents cite as evidence are examined.  These include:  1) writings by both Muslim explorers and non-Muslim explorers (ca. 650 to 1492 CE); 2) maps by Muslim and non-Muslim cartographers; and 3) linguistic patterns (notably place names and tribal names); and 4) material culture/archaeology (pictographs, petroglyphs, and architecture).  According to proponents, for example, early Southwestern Native American pueblo architecture, petroglyphs, and place names of the “Anasazi” peoples offer clear evidence of Islam’s early presence. This claim not only challenges Native Americans’ beliefs, but is also in disagreement with the consensus of archaeologists and historians of discovery. That, however, has not deterred the most ardent proponents.  Given the complexity of this issue, this presentation recommends viewing the proponents’ claims differently -- not [only] in light of science and objectivity, but also as subjective narratives about the accomplishments of Muslims during the “Golden Age” of Islam (ca. 750 to 1258 CE).  

Biographical Sketch:  Richard Francaviglia is a historical geographer who is interested in how North America was explored, mapped, and settled through time.  He has published more than fifty papers and ten books on this subject, including Go East, Young Man: Imagining the American West as the Orient (2011). Now Professor Emeritus (History and Geography) at University of Texas at Arlington, he also served as director of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography there from 1991 to 2008. Currently living in Salem Oregon, he conducts research and teaches courses in Religious Studies and Anthropology – including “Introduction to Islam” and “Islam in America”– at Willamette University.    He was president of SHD from 2003-2005.


Strategies and Identities: Dutch Expeditions through the Strait of Magellan, 1598-1618

Donald Harreld

Between 1598 and 1618, the Dutch sent out 3 separate expeditions to the Pacific by way of the Strait of Magellan. In 1598, four years before the creation of the Dutch United East India Company (VOC), the Rotterdam or “Magellan” Company sent out two expeditions to establish the western route to the Pacific. The first, under the general command of Jacques Mahu and Simon de Cordes, was a dismal failure. Mahu died before the fleet reached Brazil, and storms scattered the rest of the fleet on the way to the Pacific. The second expedition sent by the Magellan Company did not fair much better. Only one ship successfully survived the voyage. Despite its organization by a merchant company, this expedition, consisting of four vessels under the command of Olivier van Noort, had little to do with trade. Van Noort’s expedition was intended to harass the Spanish along the South American coast. The only ship to make it back to the Netherlands (in 1601) returned with virtually no cargo. The next Dutch expedition through the Strait of Magellan, under the auspices of the VOC, set out in 1614 under the command of Joris van Spilbergen. Spilbergen’s voyage was the best prepared and by some measures the first successful Dutch expedition to sail though the Strait of Magellan.

The companies that launched these expeditions surely expected at least some return for their investment, and the Dutch Republic saw some benefit in supporting the voyages, but how did these expeditions fit within the emerging strategies, both commercial and geopolitical, that were meant to insure Dutch overseas aspirations? What did their backers hope to accomplish by launching these risky undertakings? What did the voyages actually accomplish?

The Dutch were still developing their overseas strategies, which had been a hodgepodge of actions in the decade or so following 1602 when the State General had forced shareholders of the earlier merchant companies to create the VOC. But by 1614 several strategies had emerged that were to form the basis of Dutch attempts to dominate the Asian trade. First, and perhaps most obviously, Dutch trading companies understood the need to establish and then protect their trade routes. Not all the overseas voyages the Dutch dispatched were necessarily meant to engage in the kinds of activities that would further Dutch dominance in the Indies, but the three voyages through the Strait of Magellan were clearly early forms of “expeditions” in the sense that they were undertaken to explore trade routes and project Dutch into foreign lands.

Biographical Sketch: Donald J. Harreld (Ph.D. University of Minnesota) is Associate Professor and Chair of the History Department at Brigham Young University. He is also a member of the European Studies faculty. In Spring/Summer 2005, he was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Urban and Cultural History at University of Antwerp (Belgium). Before joining BYU’s faculty, Professor Harreld taught at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and at the University of Minnesota. Harreld is the author of the book, High Germans in the Low Countries: German Merchants and Commerce in Golden Age Antwerp (Brill, 2004), and several articles on subjects that include the social and economic history of the Low Countries, the Dutch Revolt, and early modern merchant culture. His current research projects include a book-length study of early seventeenth-century Dutch circumnavigations, and broader research into early modern commercial networks. Professor Harreld teaches courses in European economic history, the age of discovery/expansion of Europe, European revolutions, and early modern history.


The Hakluyt Society’s publications and the Americas: maps and membership from the 1840s

Francis Herbert

The Hakluyt Society (founded in London, UK, December 1846) had, as its chief objective, the modern scholarly editing and re-publication of older texts of world-wide travel, discovery, and exploration.  This continues into the 21st century. The inclusion of explanatory maps was envisaged, too: either ‘contemporary’ with the Society’s editions, or reproductions of pertinent, older, maps, or – eventually – both within the same publication.  The ‘contemporary’ maps were commissioned from some of the best London-based map draftsmen, engravers, and printers (e.g., J. & C. Walker, A. Petermann, E. Weller, E. Stanford, E.G. Ravenstein, and J. Bartholomew, etc.); others were based upon already extant official maps and charts (especially those of the British Admiralty’s Hydrographic Office, and including those of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey). For reproductions (i.e., facsimiles) of older maps, increasingly skilled and specialist printers were sought from beyond the cartographic community.  From the turn of the 19th/20th centuries the draftsmen of the Royal Geographical Society’s Map Drawing Office, too, were employed.  Technical methods of map reproduction varied from copper-plate engraving, lithographic drawing and printing, photo-lithography, etc.

Biographical Sketch:  Francis Herbert served as President of SHD from 1997-1999.


Robert Rich Sharp (1881-1958): prospector, engineer and discoverer of the Shinkolobwe, Katanga, (Congo) radium-uranium ore-body

Donald D. Hogarth

Robert Sharp of Tyneside, north England, fresh out of Oxford University and private tutorials in mineralogy and surveying, began his African travels (1904) as prospector and surveyor for Tanganyika Concessions Ltd (TCL). He entered Africa from Chinde on the east coast,  travelled by boat up the Zambesi and Shire Rivers and along the length of Lake Nyasa and, finally, went 600 miles overland to Ruwe, Katanga, where copper and alluvial gold had been discovered. By January, 1906, he had amassed several tonnes of copper and malachite, and a hundred pounds of gold from TCL's Katanga concession, and sent these out via Livingstone on the Zambesi River. Sharp's overland journeys were made on bicycle following native bush trails, and troubled by tropical diseases and cannibals along the way. In mid-April, 1915 he discovered, largely by accident, during a detailed topographical survey of an old copper prospect at Shinkolobwe, Katanga, an ore-body, which up to 1955, was the world’s largest and richest uranium and radium deposit known. However, due to wartime priorities, it remained undeveloped until 1921. Also in 1915, Sharp surveyed and made recommendations for hydroelectric development at the nearby Cornet Falls, which became (1926) a major source of electricity for the region.  During World War I, with the Royal Field Artillery in France, Sharp rose to the rank of major. He returned to Africa (1919), retired from mining and took up farming near Bulawayo (1921). In recognition of his accomplishments with the Land Settlement Board of Southern Rhodesia he was awarded an OBE (1951). At his death (Gateshead, England, 1958), he was the last survivor of the original TCL team.

Biographical Sketch: Donald Hogarth’s interest in uranium ores began as a university student. His theses (BASc - Toronto 1951, MASc - Toronto 1955,  PhD - McGill 1959) all concerned uranium minerals. He was employed with the Radioactive Resources Division of the Geological Survey of Canada (1952-1954), appraising uranium deposits in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, and he examined, for Frobisher Ltd, uranium deposits in Quebec (1956). In 2001 he was guided to the uranium deposit at Ambatofotsy, Madagascar.  He is now an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa.


The Comisión Corográfia and Colombia’s Quest for Identity

Anthony Mullan

The Comisión Corográfica was a small expeditionary force that from January, 1850 through February, 1859, made nine separate extended surveys through most of the provinces of Colombia. It was the fruit of at least ten years planning. Agostino Codazzi, a colorful Italian soldier of the Napoleonic Wars and later surveyor of Venezuela, was appointed to lead the Commission.

Although rich in resources, Colombia was divided by distances and extremes of topography and was poor in what it produced. Backing the expedition and fashioning its program was a  small white creole elite who governed high in Bogotá. This group, anxious to break with the Spanish past, was desirous of building a modern nation fashioned as a federal state, based on a capitalist economy, and open to European immigrants. In its way, the Comisión Corográfica was as significant to Colombia as was the Lewis and Clark expedition to the young United States some years earlier. Its first task was to provide the government with detailed, up-to-date maps of the country, each province and canton. In addition the Comisión Corográfica was formed (1) to survey the land and to determine where roads should be built to facilitate commerce, (2) to survey rivers to determine which were navigable, (3) to record and observe the diverse population, their, customs, their products, and monuments of antiquity, and (4) to assess agriculture and mining with an eye to expanding exports to the world market. The result of this expedition was numerous documents, statistical reports, articles, books on botany and travel, and some 177 watercolor paintings elaborated in the studio.

In this paper, I begin to examine both the Peregrinación de Alpha (Travels of Alpha) and the watercolors that resulted from the first two expeditions of the Comisión Corográfica in the context of travel writing and nation building in the nineteenth century. Alpha was the pseudonym for Manuel Ancízar, a distinguished New Granadan publicist who served as the first secretary of the Commission. In Travels of Alpha, Ancízar chronicled the Commision’s first expedition through the steep mountainous region of the Cordillera Oriental northeast of Bogotá.   The book is more than simply an account of the social and economic conditions that Ancízar observed during his travels. His remedies for perceived social, economic, and political problems are revealing of mid-nineteenth century positivism and scientific thought among the cultural elite of Latin America. His work is considered an early literary masterpiece linked to costumbrismo style in its close and meticulous observation of local customs and manners.  His work also compliments the watercolors produced by the Comission’s artists. Of the three artists who served as members of the Comisión Corográfica over the course of its nine year existence, the first, and according to some, its finest, was the Venezuelan, Carmelo Fernández, trained as an illustrator and topographical draftsman. He depicted poor Indians, street vendors, modest “peasants”, and “notables” in a rather flat, detailed, and precise manner somewhat reminiscent of a miniaturist’s technique. He employed somewhat curious but elegant poses that suggest the influence of lithographic studios and of French and English illustrated reviews.

In this paper, I will discuss how both Ancízar and Fernández approach the classification of races and social class and how they look at the landscape with a vision to transforming it from forest and wilderness to farms, intensive agriculture, and industry – in short their vision of a unified, modern nation.

Biographic Sketch: Anthony Mullan is Reference Specialist, Geography and Mao Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


The Denied Search for the North-West Passage: Alessandro Malaspina at the Service of “the nation that has taken me as one of its own!”

Laura Olcelli

Between 1789 and 1794, Tuscan-born Alessandro Malaspina captained the most important scientific expedition ever undertaken by Spain. The voyage was initially launched as a scientific and political investigation of the Spanish colonies in America and the Pacific, but soon transformed into an ambition to make new discoveries. However, the captain seems to display an ambivalent attitude towards the topic of discovery.
Prior to departure, in September 1788, Malaspina submitted a “Plan for a Scientific and Political Voyage Around the World” to the Spanish Minister of the Marine, Antonio Valdés. Here he proposed to simulate the English and French triumphs, while tailoring his deeds to the necessities of Spain. Seven months after having been granted the king’s approval, Malaspina was also authorized to verify the existence of the Maldonado Passage. In 1790, after having surveyed the north-western coast of America, the captain therefore tried – albeit unsuccessfully – to detect the North-West Passage.

Once returned to Spain, Malaspina compiled the Journal of the Voyage by Alejandro Malaspina (1855). Its introduction diverges significantly from the hopeful correspondence he had exchanged with Valdés. In particular, he tenaciously opposes any resemblance with other European expeditions and denies all exploratory intent. In contrast to the initial arrangements, in the voyage account a tension seems to arise from the spoken scientific versus unspoken investigative task. My paper seeks to cast new light on the unacknowledged exploration facet of the voyage. I will suggest that Malaspina’s bond with Spain offers an explanation to his particular approach. Despite his Italian background, in the journal there are many references that qualify Malaspina as a representative of Spain: it is evident that he genuinely aspires to bring glory to the country he is serving and to its king. The failure at locating the North-West Passage, despite his determination to exalt Spain, justifies why the journalist has denied that his voyage was an exploration. I will thus detail why Malaspina’s disclaimers are not only motivated by personal pride; rather, they are principally intended to accord greater honour to “the nation that has taken me as one of its own!”.

Biographic Sketch: Italian-born Laura Olcelli received a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Languages and Cultures in September 2006, and a Master’s Degree in European and American Cultures in April 2009, both from Università degli Studi di Pavia, Italy. In August 2010 she was awarded a Master of Philosophy by research in English from The University of Sydney, with a thesis entitled Italy and the Italian Language: Female Self-Fashioning on the Grand Tour. She has recently begun her second year of Doctor of Philosophy at Sydney: she is researching Italo-Australian relations in travel literature in the nineteenth century.


Epistolar Representation of Fray Junípero Serra in Francisco de Palóu’s Relacion Historica de la Vida y Apostolicas Tareas del Venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra (1787)

Ann Ortiz

The Mallorcan friar, Fray Junípero Serra (1713-1784) is considered by many scholars and historians as one of the most prominent founding fathers of California.  Having established nine missions in Alta California along and extending beyond the 500 mile stretch between San Diego and San Francisco, he vehemently defended the rights of the Franciscan missionaries, consistently winning battles with the Spanish governors over the administration of the missions and their often volatile relationship with the Spanish presidios. Serra generated a large amount of controversy during the 19th and 20th centuries, stemming from his consideration for and eventual canonization by the Roman Catholic Church in 1988 and from his policies regarding the treatment of Native Americans. Widely acclaimed in the North American public arena, commemorations of his life throughout the centuries have included numerous public ceremonies, illustrated volumes about his life, and a statue in the Capitol Building Hall of Statues as well as in cities throughout California. However, if not for the publication in 1787 of the hagiographic biography of Sierra, Relacion Historica de la Vida y Apostolicas Tareas del Venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra by his lifelong companion and fellow Franciscan, Francisco Palóu, the finer details of his life, work, and philosophy might have slipped into obscurity.

This study examines the Relación Histórica in its original Spanish version by Francisco Palóu and in the 1913 English translation by C. Scott Williams with an introduction and notes by George Wharton James, the Author of "In and Out of the Old Missions of California, "The Franciscan Missions of California," and "Modern Mission Architecture". More specifically, I will focus on the various letters written by Fray Serra and their reproduction in Palóu’s Relación. The epistles of Serra function within the body of the work as mirrors and direct reflections of his priorities and his teleological view. Moreover, they are as primary sources inserted into the Palóu’s biography. Likewise, the dedicatory letter of the editor of the English version provides a historical snapshot of the time and circumstances surrounding the publication of the English translation and of James’s opinion on the state of historical writing in California in 1913. Palóu’s direct reproductions of Serra’s letters form a series of nexuses through which the reader may discern a chain of events and a progressive, teleological vision of Serra’s intentions. Thus, the letters embody and creatively reflect the will of their original source, giving fresh insight into the practical and original intentions of the man himself. In this way, modern scholars are afforded an opportunity to look beyond the dichotomizing modern media and political expressions precipitated by his life and to discern more clearly and in detail the philosophy and practical wisdom of Serra.

Biographical Sketch: Ann Ortiz is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.  She received a Master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1982 and the Ph. D. in Spanish American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.  Ann is Director of the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Interdisciplinary Studies Program in which she also teaches classes in Service Learning and Latin American Literature in Translation.  Recently she was the first person from Campbell University to be nominated by Americorp Vista’s Campus Compact organization for the Thomas Erlich Award for Civically Engaged Faculty members.  In 2011, Ann completed a National Certification as a Medical Spanish Interpreter from the University of Arizona’s National Center for Interpretation, Translation, Research, and Policy.  She teaches Beginning and Intermediate Spanish, Medical Spanish, Conversational Spanish, and American Literature. 


Magellan, the Pacific Ocean and the Search for the Anti-Meridian

Richard Pflederer

For many, the importance of the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet of five ships is embodied in the fact of circumnavigation. Truly, this amazing feat of leadership, seamanship and perseverance fully deserves its esteemed place on the list marine achievements in the field of European exploration. But in fact circumnavigation was never an objective of the Magellan-Faleiro project. The primary goal of the voyage was to establish that the Moluccas were located within the Spanish hemisphere as defined by the Treaty of Tordesillas, thus allowing Charles V to claim the mantle of Christian leader of a vast and very rich portion of the globe. Navigating the South Pacific while maintaining a detailed and highly accurate track of his fleet was key to this objective. By examining surviving sea charts related to the question of the longitudinal dimension of the Pacific and establishing the position of these islands, this paper aims at explaining in layman’s terms the methodology and conclusions of Magellan as the great navigator he was.

Biographical Sketch: Richard Pflederer is the author of six reference books and dozens of articles, focusing on portolan charts and atlases. He won the Caird Fellowship of the National Maritime Museum in 2005 and has conducted other long term research projects while resident at the British Library and the Bodleian Library. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the editorial Advisory Council of The Portolan and a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors’ Society. He has lectured on related subjects at venues around the world, including London, Chicago, Washington, Miami, Guatemala City and Verona Italy, including three papers presented at previous SHD meetings. He teaches in the adult education section of the College of William & Mary and is a member of the adjunct faculty of Old Dominion University. In 2009 he founded the Williamsburg Map Circle, a group whose aim is to promote the understanding of maps within the community. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and now shares his time between Williamsburg, Virginia and Montepulciano, Tuscany.


On Second Thought: Cartographic Corrections to the Shape of Africa on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

Chet Van Duzer

When a region is being explored, maps of it inevitably change over time: this can be seen quite dramatically in maps of the New World during the sixteenth century, to mention just one example. Explorers certainly entered corrections on their maps during their voyages, but I know of no examples of this practice that survive from the medieval or early modern periods.

In this paper I will examine three maps from the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries in which corrections are indicated on the maps themselves with regard to the shape of Africa. The first is the world map in the so-called Medici Atlas of 1351; the second is the fourth map of Africa in the Wilczek-Brown manuscript of the maps of Ptolemy’s Geography, which is dated to the middle of the fifteenth century; and the third is Johann Schöner’s globe of 1515.

The first two cases represent attempts to update expensive manuscript atlases with new geographical data, and thus maintain their relevance. On the world map in the Medici Atlas, a new outline of Africa was added that largely derives from the world map of Albertin de Virga of 1419, though another source was used as well. In the Wilczek-Brown manuscript, the map was repainted to change the whole configuration of southern Africa, from a Ptolemaic depiction to a modern one showing that it was possible to sail around the continent’s southern tip. Schöner on his 1515 globe, on the other hand, intentionally includes older data to allow a comparison with his newer data. He shapes Africa in accordance with recent nautical charts, but also shows the more Ptolemaic outline of the continent according to Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507. Although Schöner was certainly intending to emphasize the newness and correctness of the depiction of the continent, curiously he returned to Waldseemüller’s depiction of 1507 on a manuscript globe that he made five years later, in 1520.

The corrections indicated on these maps, which are quite unusual among early modern maps, clearly show the great importance of Africa, and the possibility of circumnavigating the continent, in early modern cosmographical thought, and also the ongoing process of interpreting and correcting Ptolemy’s Geography.

These two maps and this globe will be discussed in the context of other contemporary maps that reflect uncertainty about the shape of Africa.

Biographic Sketch: Chet Van Duzer is currently a Kislak Fellow at the Library of Congress, and an Invited Research Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library. His articles on the history of cartography have appeared in Terrae Incognitae, Imago Mundi, Orbis Terrarum, and Geographical. His monograph on Johann Schöner’s terrestrial globe of 1515 was published in 2010 by the American Philosophical Society, and this year he has two books coming out. The first is a new facsimile edition of Martin Waldseemüller’s world maps of 1507 and 1516, written with John Hessler and being published by the Library of Congress and Levenger Press; and the second is about sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps, which is being published by the British Library.

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