Terra Cognita

Newsletter of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Page 4

May 2005

In Memoriam: David Woodward (1942-2004)

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David Woodward, distinguished scholar and member of the Society for the History of Discoveries, died of cancer on 25 August 2004. His passing has saddened family and friends and an international community of scholars. As co-founder and editor of the History of Cartography Project, an ambitious undertaking aimed at producing a multi-volume reference work that would examine maps and their production and use worldwide, from prehistory to the twentieth century, he worked to provide a firm foundation for the discipline of the history of cartography and uncover new directions for research. 
David’s background was in cartography. Born in Leamington Spa, England in 1942, he earned his B.A. at the University of Wales, Swansea, in 1964, and worked as a cartographer in the United Kingdom. He came to the United States to study cartography with Professor Arthur H. Robinson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There he earned his M.A. (1967) and Ph.D. (1970) in Geography. After graduation, he became Curator of Maps and then Director of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library in Chicago. 
The history of cartography is closely intertwined with the history of discoveries, and

David was a life member of the Society for the History of Discoveries. At the Newberry Library, he served as General Editor of the Society’s monograph series, Studies in the History of Discoveries. In 1980 he returned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Professor of Geography, where he served the Society as local arrangements chair for the 1982 annual meeting in Madison.
Also in Madison, the History of Cartography Project got underway. In 1977, David and colleague J. Brian Harley first talked about the idea for the Project and in 1981 they made their first funding proposal. In 1987, Volume One of The History of Cartography, examining cartography in prehistoric, ancient, and medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, was published. Like the volumes that were to follow, it featured chapters commissioned from eminent scholars, meticulously edited, and illustrated with high-quality map reproductions.
Brian Harley died in 1991, but David Woodward continued to guide the Project. Volume Two investigated map-making in traditional societies. As work on the volume progressed, the commissioned authors dis-covered such an unexpected wealth of material that it grew to fill three books, published in 1992, 1994, and 1998. Writing and editorial work for Volume Three, Cartography in the European Renaissance, has been completed, and it is scheduled for publication in 2007. Three more volumes on cartography in the Enlightenment, the nineteenth century, and the twentieth century are planned.
The History of Cartography became David’s life work, but he balanced the Project with many other professional activities. As Professor of Geography, he taught courses in cartography and the history of cartography, supervised twenty-four master’s theses and four doctoral dissertations, and served the university. He was honored with a prestigious named chair, for which he chose the title “Arthur H. Robinson Professor of Geography” in honor of his mentor. He served a number of professional societies and was a frequent public lecturer. Meanwhile, he authored such books as The All-American Map:

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