The International Conferences on the History of Cartography

A Short History and a Bibliography of Papers

Compiled by Douglas W. Sims and adapted for the WWW by Peter van der Krogt

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Conference by conference survey
11964 July 17-18London
21967 Sept 21-22London
31969 Sept 17-20Brussel
41971 Sept 21-24Edinburgh
51973 Sept 13-17Warszawa (Jadwisin)
61975 Sept 7-11Greenwich
71977 Aug 7-11Washington
81979 Sept 17-20Berlin
91981 May 30-June 5Pisa-Firenze-Roma
101983 Aug 29-Sept 2Dublin
111985 July 8-12Ottawa
121987 Sept 7-11Paris
131989 June 26-July 1Amsterdam
141991 June 14-19Uppsala-Stockholm
151993 June 21-25Chicago
161995 Sept 11-16Wien
171997 July 6-10Lisboa
181999 July 11-16Athinai
192001 July 1-6Madrid
202003 June 15-20Cambridge-Portland
212005 July 17-22Budapest
222007 July 8-13Bern
232009 July 12-18København
242011 July 10-15Москва (Moscow)
252013 June 30-July 5Helsinki
262015 July 12-17Antwerpen
272017 July 9-14Belo Horizonte

In this survey some inconsistency will be noticed in the paragraphs preceding the main listings for each conference, as regards the type and amount of data supplied. These descriptions were compiled from reports published in periodicals, and such reports vary greatly in quantity and quality. In some instances it would be possible to obtain a more complete picture only by consulting the original programs for the conferences, items which are well-nigh impossible to come by. I have been able to consult them for only a few ICHCs. It is also for these reasons that the listings of papers for each ICHC have been presented in one list alphabetical by author, instead of according to the original subject groupings, which might have been more convenient. In just a few instances, I have given a descriptive line for a work, if I was unable to find the full original title. The number of pages have been indicated in parentheses where known.
Additions and corrections:


At the International Conference on the History of Cartography in Lisbon in 1997, Doug Sims distributed several copies of what he described as "a largely unedited first draft" of the following manuscript: The International Conferences on the History of Cartography: A Short Historical Survey and a Bibliography of Papers (Brooklyn, New York, 1995; 36 pp.).

This survey includes a history of these conferences, general information about each conference, and lists of all the papers presented. Because much information about the earlier conferences was uncertain or unavailable, the survey was incomplete and could not be published and distributed. The internet now gives us the possibility of "publishing" a work-in-progress and to ask readers for corrections and additions. Doug has sent me his files and I have adapted them for the internet.

I also added the information for the conferences of 1997 and later. Since 1987, I have attended all these conferences myself, and since I have taken photos at all of them, I have added my pages of photos as well (I have not yet located my negatives for the 1989 conference, so will add these later).

Please send corrections and additions (and photographs, especially of conferences before 1987) to me.

Delft, July 2001, Peter van der Krogt

N.B. The abbreviation "ICHC" was introduced c. 1999, but became commonly used since it was used in the e-mail addres of the 2001 conference (19.ichc @ and in the logo for the 2003 conference.

A Short History of the ICHC by Douglas W. Sims

Douglas Sims The 20th International Geographical Congress, London, 1964, was an impressive affair. It was the largest IGC in history, with seven sections and 45 sub-sections, as well as 23 related symposia, which took place before and after the main congress, at various locations throughout England. The main congress was opened by the queen of England herself, and was attended by various other dignitaries.1 Among the symposia was one on the history of cartography, which would afterwards come to be referred to as The First International Conference on the History of Cartography (ICHC, or ICHoC).

This symposium had not been among those originally listed in the first circular for the congress,2 although there had been a sub-section "History of Cartography" under the main congress section "Cartography." For various reasons, there occurred several changes in the number and arrangement of sections and symposia of the congress, and in the second circular,3 which was compiled in late 1962 and distributed in May 1963, the history symposium was added, while the historical sub-section under "Cartography" had been retained as well. Not long after, this redundancy was noticed, as were some other irregularities in the program, and still a third, and final, circular was sent around, in which the symposium was retained, but the old sub-section was finally dropped.
Who was the originator of the first ICHC? The rather dry facts in the preceding paragraph would be of little interest, except for the light they help throw on this interesting question. It is often stated that the first conference was organized by Raleigh Ashlin (Peter) Skelton and Gerald Roe Crone: "A Symposium on the History of Cartography, directed by Mr. G. R. Crone and Mr. R. A. Skelton, was held at the Royal Geographical Society on 17-18 July 1964)."4 This is correct, and a better collaboration could hardly have been found, for Skelton, Superintendent of the Map Room of the then British Museum, and Crone, Librarian and Map Curator of the Royal Geographical Society, had long worked closely together, on the staff of the Hakluyt Society since Skelton's appointment in 1946, as the British representatives to the IGU's Commission for Early Maps since 1949, and as members of the editorial staff of Imago Mundi since 1951. Nevertheless, it is always, if I may use such a phrase, historiographically most satisfying if one can narrow one's originator down to a single person. Indeed, in the Skelton biography in the Geographical Review 62 (1972), at p. 134, it is stated that: "For this occasion [the 20th IGC] Skelton . . . was convener of the symposium on the History of Cartography, which preceded the congress. This meeting was so successful that a second, also under his leadership, was held at the Royal Geographical Society in 1967. This was the origin of the International Conferences on the History of Cartography." Again, in a notice on the origin of the congresses in Imago Mundi 40 (1988), p. 56, it is said that the symposium was organized by Skelton "with the collaboration of G. R. Crone." But Helen Wallis, on p. 82 of her biography of Crone in Imago Mundi 37 (1985), asserts: "It was at Crone's invitation that some fifty participants at the XXth International Geographical Congress held in London in 1964 met on 17 July at the Royal Geographical Society for a Symposium on the History of Cartography," although she adds that it was "organized jointly by Crone and his long term friend and colleague R. A. Skelton." The well-known Swiss historian of cartography, Franz Grenacher, part of the 3-member main editorial committee of Imago Mundi with Skelton and Koeman from 1962 to 1970, also credits the convening of the symposium to Crone, and does not mention Skelton (Kartographische Nachrichten 20 (1970): 24b).
The question is, of course, of no practical importance in itself, and one has no wish to pit against each other two revered figures in the history of cartography for the honor. Either would have gladly credited the other. But as a fact in an objective discussion of the origin of the conferences, it is surely of interest to note that it could only have been Crone who was directly involved in the earliest preparations for the symposium in late 1962 and early 1963. Crone, we know, was Librarian of the RGS, and nothing in his biographies would indicate that he was occupied other than at that post at the time, and, in that post, could hardly have been otherwise than involved in the preparations for the upcoming great congress. But Skelton, although continuing as British Museum Superintendent of Maps, was on sabbatical leave in 1962-63 at Harvard University's Widener Library, serving as consultant and Acting Map Curator.5 He also gave lectures there on the history of cartography, as well as presenting the first James Ford Bell Lecture at the University of Minnesota on February 27, 1963. He apparently even taught a course at Harvard (Wood, p. 29, item II/H/2).
It would seem that Skelton could hardly have been deeply involved in the earliest arrangements occurring in London in late 1962 and early 1963, and the Skelton correspondence catalogued in the Wood volume just mentioned seems to confirm that his active role in the preparations began only after his return from the sabbatical. At pp. 29-31 Skelton's correspondence is catalogued having to do specifically with the 1964 symposium, and although there is a large amount of it, the earliest item is dated June 18, 1963, no doubt just after his return from Harvard. From that date on, the correspondence on the symposium is pretty much non-stop until some time after the symposium's end. Thus the earliest efforts resulting in the formation of the original symposium, first reflected in print in the second congress circular compiled in late 1962 and distributed in May 1963, must have been carried out by Crone.

Both clearly expended much effort on the event once Skelton had returned, assisted by Helen Wallis, and it was a great success. They continued to work together, along with others, on the second and third conferences, in 1967 and 1969, although it would appear that Skelton's role in those was probably more active than that of Crone.6

The success of the symposium in 1964 led to a second, London, 1967, which was referred to as a "conference on the history of cartography," as, for instance, in the Geographical Journal 133 (1967), p. 575, but still not as "The second." The third, however, in Brussels, 1969, was referred to from the start as "The Third International Conference on the History of Cartography," as, for instance, the advance notice in Imago Mundi, 21 (1967), p. 110.

Numbers of participants1 and papers at the conferences

(This table is from 1987 onwards copied from the Organisers' notes for the ICHC.
Participants Papers
1964 London 58 23
1967 London 180-200 23
1969 Brussel >140 21
1971 Edinburgh >100 15 or 17
1973 Warszawa 75-100 45
1975 Greenwich 160-200 27
1977 Washington 200-250 36
1979 Berlin 120-150 43
1981 Pisa etc. 200 71
1983 Dublin c. 200 49
1985 Ottawa 150 59
USA UK Host  Rest of Europe Others Totals Papers Posters Totals Special Sessions/
1987 Paris 38 27 52 71 15 203 72 -- 72 --
1989 Amsterdam 30 32 45 69 15 191 332 30 63 --
1991 Uppsala-Stockholm 15 22 43 69 18 167 43 24 67 --
1993 Chicago 160 21 [=US] 51 263 258 50 12 62 --
1995 Vienna 31 19 25 123 19 217 39 25 64 --
1997 Lisbon 33 20 38 89 16 194 42 12 54 1
1999 Athens 28 9 [40?] 72 21 c.1704 54 20 74 4
2001 Madrid 35 16 43 58 24 177 57 24 81 4
2003 Cambridge-Portland [= US] 321 80 42 122 3
2005 Budapest 41 16 21 87 31 196 60 37 97 2
2007 Bern 37 17 64 138 19 266 62 39 101 -
2009 Copenhagen 48 24 16 99 22 2135 60 38 98 -
2011 Moscow 20 16 35 61 19 151 51 38 89 2
2013 Helsinki 20 19 37 85 20 1986 56 19 75
  1. Not counting Accompanying Persons
  2. Including 15 brief reviews by Session Chairmen
  3. Including 10 from other parts of America
  4. 85 Greeks were registered but many did not attend
  5. Number of registered persons. The figures per country are from the list of participants (which did not list the countries of origin).
  6. The full total includes late registrants for whom no details are available as to their origin

Besides the main sessions, there have been other activities at the conferences, most conspicuously the exhibits, and, beginning with the third conference, excursions, as well as various receptions, visits, etc. There have also been, beginning at least from the seventh ICHC, Washington, D.C., 1977, meetings of various specialty groups, not officially part of the conference, but occurring during its tenure, or just before it. Meetings of the International Cartographic Association's Commission on the History of Cartography took place at ICHCs from the 1977 Washington conference to the 1983 10th conference at Dublin, and beginning at the 11th ICHC, Ottawa, 1985, this became a three-part meeting. The Ottawa conference introduced a section on the teaching of the history of cartography, which has continued strongly to the present, and a section each on cartobibliography and cartochronology, the latter two of which have apparently lapsed as of the 14th conference. Also, at the 1983 Dublin conference first occurred a meeting of what has become to known as the International Society of Curators of Early Maps (ISCEM), which has flourished. The Lisbon conference introduced two more special gatherings: a meeting of the directors of Imago Mundi, and a round table on theoretical aspects of the history of cartography.

An aspect of the ICHCs which has changed is the distribution to attendants of full texts of papers to be given, which was done through the 12th ICHC, Paris, 1987. Complete success in this had never been achieved, since there were always some speakers who failed to submit the required paper, and as many as a quarter of those who did distributed papers without footnotes (Imago Mundi 33 (1981): 95). Perhaps for these reasons the practice has now ceased, although individual speakers may still provide papers, and many do so.

1. See the photograph of the queen giving her opening address as the frontispiece of The Geographical Journal, 131 (1965), and also as the frontispiece to the 1967 published proceedings of the congress (see note 4 below).
2. The first circular is not an easy item to find, but it was reprinted in full in the Newsletter of the International Geographical Union, no. 13 (1962), pp. 3-20.
3. International Geographical Union 11th General Assembly and 20th International Geographical Congress United Kingdom July-August 1964: Second Circular, [London, 1963], pp. 41 and 59 (title from cover).
4. Imago Mundi 18 (1964): 91. The same is stated in Imago Mundi 25 (1971): 11a, as well as in the notice for the history symposium in the second circular (see note 3), at p. 59, and in the 20th IGC proceedings proper (20th International Geographical Congress, Congress Proceedings, ed. J. Wreford Watson [London, 1967], p. 251), and in other places.
5. Alberta Auringer Wood, Professional Papers, Correspondence, etc., of Raleigh Ashlin (Peter) Skelton (1906-1970): Collection 59 in the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives in the Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's (St. John's, Nfld., 1989, p. [5] (in the "Biographical Sketch").
6. Concerning Skelton's correspondence and papers on the second and third conferences, 1967 and 1969, see Wood (note 5 above), pp. 31-33 and 33 respectively.

© 1995-2001 Idea and text: Douglas W. Sims; web version: Peter van der Krogt :-)