Terra Cognita

Newsletter of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Page 2

May 2003

From the Secretary-Treasurer 
(aka Editor, Terra Cognita)

     The election of officers has occurred, and Ralph Ehrenberg, retired Chief of the Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, will assume the duties of the vice-president/president elect in October 2003. Veteran SHD members, Susan Danforth, Louis De Vorsey, and H.G. Jones are the incoming members of Council. 
     Because no position in SHD carries a stipend, and is voluntary, the society is beholden to every one who has taken on the burden of conducting its business. We, therefore, cannot thank enough the outgoing officers and members of council. Eric Wolf has been a steadfast leader of the society for the past four years. He will be replaced as president by Richard Francaviglia, who has performed a sensational job as program chairman for both the Denver and Zapopan meetings. As Secretary- Treasurer, it has been a delight to work with both these men. Those rotating off Council are Barbara McCorkle, John Parker and Peter van der Krogt. 
    Our website continues to grow, and all the credit belongs to Tom Sander. As Web Content Manager, he has nurtured www.sochistdisc.org for the past three years, and during that time, it has become a vital element in providing up-to-date information to our membership about annual meetings, introducing materials from Terrae Incognitae, and keeping SHD news current. Members should consult the website often, because Tom is always adding new things.
     Since I became Secretary-Treasurer, I have been remiss in properly thanking several people in the Anthropology and Geography Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Special thanks go to Patricia Grant, who as business manager, has cooperated with SHD by allowing us to utilize the university’s print shop. Because of her help, we have saved many thousands of dollars in printing costs. I also want to thank Laura Miller and Nicole Smith who have from the beginning provided the technical expertise in producing Terra Cognita. Both are communication consultants and are whizzes at desktop publishing, and I could not survive without their help. This year, the Honors Committee (comprised of Roger Baskes, Dennis Reinhartz, and Dee Longenbaugh) recommended that Virginia Garrett and Jenkins Garrett be named Fellows of the Society for the History of Discoveries for 2003. Council readily approved these two worthy individuals, and their formal honors will be presented at the annual meeting in New Orleans. Gerald Saxon has agreed to write the 
citation for Jenkins Garrett, and Dennis Reinhartz will do the honors for Virginia Garrett. Their citations will be distributed in the annual report later this year, and will be posted on the SHD website.
     For the past year or so, I have been agitating for a professional index to be produced for Terrae Incognitae. Council early on budgeted $7,000 for the project, with the understanding that the final cost probably would be more. After gathering information and advice from a number of people (several were professional indexers), David Buisseret and I have commissioned Alistair Maeer (former assistant editor of TI, and a doctoral student in the history department at UT-Arlington) to produce an index for all thirty-four volumes that will replicate the index that appears in volume 13 of our journal. 
     Also of concern has been the size of our membership. In 1992, we counted 359 members. In 1996, it was 323. Our numbers in November 2002 was 294; however, as of April 14, 2003, 38 members have yet to renew. If my previous experience with membership holds for this year, I will purge 15-20 names from the directory in early June. The roster of members has declined each of the three years I have been secretary, which clearly reflects the ageing of our membership. We must reach out and recruit younger men and women who are beginning their careers. Of course, the essay contest was inaugurated for precisely that purpose, and it has been successful. Nonetheless, we have not garnered all that many new members from those who participated in the essay contest. 
     We have a long way to go before we push the panic button as regards our total membership. It has been a problem for a long time, and it is good to keep reminding ourselves that we should be concerned.
     We did not have a winner of the 2001 essay contest, but in 2002 we had a surplus of excellent student entries. As one of the judges, I can attest that I would have been happy if any one of three of the essays had been selected. In fact, this caused Council at the Zapopan meeting to approve a motion by David Buisseret that SHD may award more than one first prize, if warranted. The essay submitted by Carol Medlicott, a doctoral student in geography at UCLA, was judged to be the winner of the 2002 contest. Carol presented her research to an appreciative audience at Zapopan.
     SHD has experienced a slight problem with the scheduling of the 2004 meeting in Enkhuizen,
Continued on Page 4. 

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