Terra Cognita

Newsletter of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Page 12

May 2005

Gunnar Thompson happily reports that his book on Marco Polo’s “new world voyages” is at the editing stage. An illustrated version is expected for release by April 2005. He writes, “As the diplomat/scientist with Chinese/Korean explorers, Marco Polo mapped the west coast of America from Alaska to Peru. His maps aided the Portuguese in the 15th century.” Gunnar also reports that he has formed a partnership with Gavin Menzies, who has just signed movie rights for his book, 1421, with release expected in about two years. “I think we can expect some drastic renovation of the history of cartography in the near future.”

John Thrower writes from Dorset that he is continuing his research into the background of John Oxenham’s 1576-1577 raid across the Isthmus of Panama, and several new leads are being followed.

Norman Thrower, by the invitation of Rear Admiral Nazim Cubukcu, hydrographer of the Turkish navy, traveled to Istanbul in September 2004 to present a paper as part of a symposium celebrating the 450th anniversary of the death of Piri Reis. Norman reports that a volume of papers given at the symposium will be published shortly.

Carol Urness is now an “almost” book-seller, putting some of her books on ABE Books and selling them reluctantly (and as few as possible). Corner Books is her bookshop and her office, most often the latter. She is writing a book on dragonflies and damselflies, part of a long-standing interest in natural history. She continues her research and writing on Vitus Bering and his expeditions also. She looks forward to seeing SHD members in Williamsburg this fall.

Jess Walker, Boyd Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University, was recognized in 2004 by a Festschrift entitled The Coastal Zone: Papers in Honor of H. Jesse Walker, and by the naming of a physical geography facility at LSU as the H. Jesse Walker Geomorphology Laboratory. He was also awarded the Lauréat d’honneur by

the International Geographical Union at its 30th Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. In March 2005, he gave the keynote address at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Department of Geography, Taiwan National University in Taipei.

Bill Warren is hopeful that by the time SHD members read this, the California Map Society will have a number of maps of California and the West on its Society website, www.californiamapsociety.org. These maps are from three collections -- those of the Huntington Library, the Pasadena Museum of History, and the Altadena Historical Society. For further information, contact Bill at (626) 792-9152, or by e-mail, wjwarren@aol.com.

Robert Weddle writes that he is nearing completion of his 14th book, which includes a translation of a previously unpublished diary of a Spanish Indian campaign across central Texas in 1759.

Because he was involved in an automobile accident in July 2004, Scott Westrem was placed on an extended medical leave of absence during the Fall Semester at the Graduate Center of CUNY in New York City. Although he was unable to attend the Fourteenth International Congress of the New Chaucer Society in Glasgow, and the Eleventh Annual Medieval Congress in Leeds, he was instrumental in much of the planning for both conferences. 

It was another frenetic year for Eric Wolf. In addition to seeing 43 plays, concerts, operas, and operettas, the Wolfs traveled to Miami for the Philip Lee Phillips Society meeting, to Denver to visit the Auraria Library, to Bismarck, ND for the meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Society, to Chicago for the Nebenzahl Lectures, and to New York for a 55th year class reunion. In addition, they traveled to London on the Queen Mary 2, and then to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. Whew!!!

continued on P. 14

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