Every year the United States honors women and men who have served the U.S. armed forces during war and peacetime on the anniversary of the end of World War I, November 11. Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day celebrated and honored the soldiers that lost their lives in World War I. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the federal holiday was officially expanded to celebrate and honor all veterans.
The UT Libraries honors veterans by telling their stories, preserving their legacy in our collections, and making the materials that meant something to them available to researchers for generations to come.
This Veterans Day, we are highlighting a collection of field maps and charts that belonged to Colonel Roland T. Fenton, a veteran of World War I and World War II. We are excited to tell part of his story through the maps he used in the field with an online exhibit, the Field Maps of Colonel Roland T. Fenton.
Aside from some basic biographical information, we know very little about Col. Fenton. We know that he spent 28 years of his life serving in the U.S. Army, and in that time, he was infantry and infantry support in both World Wars. And he managed to preserve some essential tools of his deployment, his maps. The fact that these maps survived the treacheries of war is incredible. After Col. Fenton died, his family donated his military effects to the Army Heritage Center who offered UT Libraries the maps to fill in missing maps from our online Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. They exceed our expectations. The field printing and annotations alone make them exceptional, but also many were classified. We are fortunate to be able to preserve and share them with generations to come.
Visit the UT Libraries’ Exhibit to learn more about Col. Fenton and the context of his collection. The images accompanying this post and the exhibit are a fraction of the 84 maps in the Field Maps of Colonel Roland T. Fenton in the UT Libraries Collections portal.
Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from the Libraries’ Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship to encourage and inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.
Istanbul Urban Database project, headed by Nil
Tuzcu (MIT), Sibel Bozdoğan (İstanbul Bilgi), and Gül
Neşe Doğusan Alexander (Harvard), seeks
to preserve collective memory and the urban cultural heritage of Istanbul by
becoming the most comprehensive online archive of Istanbul’s urban history. The
project is based on a digital corpus of maps of Istanbul, aerial imagery,
photographs, and geographical features. The project combines this wide range of
historical data on a sustainable platform that can be integrated into other
projects. The project does not stand alone; there is, in fact, an API in
development for serving and exporting the various layers of the information it
With the Istanbul Urban Database, users can
select a variety of maps, photos, and other imagery to superimpose over one
another, or compare. You can examine one historical map at a time, superimpose
them with adjustable transparency, and overlay georeferenced features on the
maps. The side-by-side tool allows users to compare maps from two different
time periods (currently limited to the 19th and 20th
centuries). Uniquely, the project draws on Ottoman and French maps, primarily
from the Harvard Map Collection. This allows the user to get a sense of both
the internal and external views of Istanbul in the early 20th
In terms of infrastructure, the Istanbul Urban
Database’s transportation layer hosts information drawn from a 1922 map on
ferry, train, and tramway lines. The project organizers decided to present
major roads separately because of their impact on city growth. The ferry,
train, and tramway lines, and the roads, were drawn by Harvard Mellon Urban
Initiative researchers––a quite labor intensive process from which
users benefit immensely.
Users also will enjoy having access to Henri Prost’s master plan archives,
which have had significant effect on the development of the city of Istanbul.
Lastly, users can peruse photographs of everyday life at different points in
Istanbul’s history. Examples include beaches, casinos, movie theaters, and
patisseries; snapshots of lives well-lived so long ago, in some cases in places
that no longer exist.
The Istanbul Urban Database project is significant for its
combination of resources on an accessible platform with potential for
applications in other projects. Istanbul is a difficult city to navigate, let
alone understand, today, and so attempting to imagine its past lives might seem
rather intimidating for researchers. The Istanbul Urban Database project
streamlines access to crucial 20th and late-19th century
resources to facilitate research on the growth, structure, and development of
the city of Istanbul.
I encourage readers to explore all of the tools available,
especially the comparison tool that allows you slide two maps right and left to
compare time periods. I also suggest looking through the photographs of
everyday life that are exhibited through this project, and examine whether or
not these places still exist today by zooming into the base satellite map.
Readers who are interested in maps of Istanbul and Turkey more broadly would
benefit from visiting the UT Maps Collection. The maps of Turkey and specificallyIstanbul are extensive and of interest for those piqued by the Istanbul
The Tobin International Geological Map Collection provides map materials in support of teaching and research within the Jackson School of Geosciences, its programs and related disciplines. As graphic summaries of earth and planetary data, maps are an integral part of geologic and geographic study as well as an important information source in various aspects of research in such fields as energy, engineering, land use planning, oceanography, physical and space sciences, environmental studies and the life sciences. To serve these disciplines, geologic, tectonic, stratigraphic, physiographic, geodetic, seismographic, outline, topical (such as soil and water survey), geophysical, structural, cross section, and index maps are required.
Located in the Walter Geology Library, the collection contains more than 50,000 maps and map texts that are arranged geographically. It functions as a working research collection that is more concerned with the utility of its maps for research rather than with their rarity as objects.
Tobin Surveys, Inc. of San Antonio endowed the Tobin collection in 1980 when it established the Tobin International Geological Library Fund to enable cartographic acquisitions. The collection aims for worldwide coverage of maps on geology and related subjects, but it is particularly dense in maps of Texas and select U.S. and foreign areas of geologic interest. The resources provide thorough coverage for North America (especially Texas and the Southwest), Mexico, Britain, Italy, Australia, Brazil and Turkey, with moderate coverage for the rest of the world.
The geologic map collection portrays surface and subsurface features, ages, and rock types at a variety of scales. Such maps are used for research in hydrocarbon and mineral exploration, hydrology, geomorphology and paleontology, archeology, and some engineering and architectural applications. The collection also includes some topographic or surface feature maps. Geologic and topographic maps largely are produced by and for governments around the world; however, some commercial maps are included in the collection.
The Tobin collection, in partnership with the Perry-Castañeda collection, serves as a federal depository for the maps of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Through that arrangement, the collection maintains an almost complete set of the map series published by the USGS, including maps of various scales that provide users the ability to examine a continent, country, or more local geographic regions.
A large collection of geological maps of Greece and Italy, which are of special interest to archaeology and classics researchers, also are held in the collection. Overall, the resources of the Tobin Map Collection serve not only researchers within the geology, architecture, classics, archaeology, engineering, and geography departments, but also the general public.
It’s certainly the case that our perception of the world’s geography is rooted in our experience with the maps we’ve encountered, developed and designed over eons by both hand and machine. Even though we may have become increasingly reliant on disembodied voices to lead us where we need to go, the archetype for understanding the concept of location which we carry in our minds was instilled by the road guides of family vacations, massive retractable world maps of the elementary classroom and spinning globes of our past.
Equal parts art and science, maps are one of the most effective methods for conveying information visually in virtually any field of inquiry. In the miniaturization of space that is necessary to explain vast areas on a personal scale is a documentation of history and of change; of character and personality, value and values; of plant and animal; of health and illness, feast and famine; of motion and stasis; and of nearly any aspect of life and place that can be categorized for better understanding the world in which we live.
And that, perhaps, is what makes the map collection at the Perry-Castañeda Library so incredibly valuable. Its scope in both size and subject is immense enough to maintain an intrinsic value — both as historical artifact and as a tool of modern research and reference — that goes unaffected by the passage of time.
Though the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is considered a general collection, it’s anything but. Residing on the first floor of the university’s flagship library, it features more than 250,000 cartographic items representing all areas of the world. And its online component is not only one of the most highly visited websites at the university — garnering nearly 8 million visits annually — but is in the top ten most popular results for a Google search of “maps.”
The university began informally collecting maps previously — at the General Libraries, but also through efforts at the Geology Library, the Barker Texas History Center and the Benson Latin American Collection — but it wasn’t until the PCL opened in 1977 that the Map Collection was established on the first floor of the building as an independent collection.
The core of the collection emerged with the acquisition of the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which date from the late 19th century and cover the entire United States, U.S. territories and other parts of the world where governments contracted U.S.G.S. for mapping, such as Saudi Arabia.
The collection also houses an extensive collection of atlases, from a street atlas of El Paso to the National Atlas of India. The library also purchases commercial and foreign government-issued topographic map series, country, city and thematic maps. The collection also includes a small but popular collection of plastic raised-relief maps and globes, not only of earth, but of the Moon, planets and other various celestial bodies.
Most of the maps in the collection date from 1900 to the present, and the collection is constantly being updated with newer materials, and complements a number of significant historical map collections housed on campus in the Center for American History (historical maps of Texas), the Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center and the Walter Geology Library.
Paul Rascoe — the Libraries’ Documents, Maps, & Electronic Info Services Librarian — has been the driving force behind the collection at PCL, especially in the formulation and execution of the collection’s online component. And it hasn’t hurt to have the planets align, at times.
“In 1994, we decided that we were going to scan maps,” says Rascoe. “We had a Macintosh computer and a Mac scanner, which I believe cost $100. We had a plan to put them in sort of a web menuing system called Gopher, but fortunately, simultaneously with our wanting to put maps online, the first web browser was introduced in that year.” Continue reading You Are Everywhere – The PCL Map Collection→
Having such a large collection of cartographic history in one place and accessible by anyone with a browser is extraordinary enough. But it’s not the only online map collection of note. The University of Texas’s Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection has been a familiar online companion from the early days.
The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection gets a lot of use.
With its more than 25,000 maps digitized to date, that makes the collection the largest in the public domain, and it also means that the PCL Map Collection website gets a lot of visits…about 20 million pageviews in the last year alone.