John (Jack) Parker,
died from complications from leukemia. At the 2002 annual meeting of the society held at Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, he was named Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries
|of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, a position he held until retirement. I personally believe that Jack Parker possessed the very best job that anyone in academia could hold. He traveled the world over, searched for and purchased magnificent rare books and maps, and spent someone else’s money. And what a wonderful job he did. The James Ford Bell Library grew to international acclaim as a resource for those interested in the early merchant trade, missionary activities, and explorations in North America. The library became a mecca for scholars conducting research in the history of cartography and geographical exploration and discovery. Further, he mentored many students who took the special courses he taught at the university.
Jack Parker, along with Thomas Goldstein and Steve Slessarev, while at the International Congress on the History of Discoveries in Lisbon, Portugal in 1960, conceived the idea of creating an organization in the United States where scholars, librarians, antiquarians, and everyone else with an interest in geographical exploration and the history of cartography could find an intellectual home. Thus the Society for the History of Discoveries came to be. In the early years, Jack was the heart and soul of the society – he served as Executive Secretary and Treasurer for eleven years, he was instrumental in the creation of the society’s scholarly journal, Terrae Incognitae, and he wrote articles for the new journal, which subsequently has seen thirty-seven annual volumes published. If not for Jack, the society would not have survived those early years. Recognizing his contributions to scholarship, and his vital continuous support of the society, he was elected in 2002 a Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries. The heartfelt citation for Jack was written by Carol Urness (his successor as Curator at the James Ford Bell Library), and was presented to him at the annual meeting in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, where his daughters were in attendance.
As president of the society in 1980-1981, he presided over an annual meeting held in Columbus, Ohio, where it was determined that the SHD would produce a volume that would include all the arguments and theories related to Columbus’ First Landfall in 1492. Jack and Louis De Vorsey were named editors, and the work was presented in volume 15 of Terrae Incognitae as a special issue. It was then published as a book by Wayne State University Press in 1985 titled In the Wake of Columbus: Islands and Controversy. Jack wrote the
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