[ISHMap-List] Bibliographia Cartographica, a bibliographical source for map historians

Douglas Sims dougsims1945 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 8 03:02:39 CEST 2017

   Dear ISHMappers,   From time to time during the last year or so I have casually broached to other historians of cartography the subject of the bibliographical resources available to us in our field. Virtually all know Nick Millea's biannual "Bibliography" in 'Imago Mundi", which bibliography continued that of Francis Herbert in the year 2005. A lesser, but nevertheless notable number of persons were also aware of Joel Kovarsky triannual bibliography "Recent Publications" in the journal of the Washington Map Society, 'The Portolan', continuing Eric W. Wolf's compilation since 2007.
 But few were aware of the very substantial history of cartography sections in the 'Bibliographia Cartographica.' This annual periodical began in 1974, replacing and continuing its predecessor, the 'Bibliotheca Cartographica', produced, in the main, by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. The bibliography is impressively thorough, including within it citations from a very wide variety of sources. It is not possible to name all the sources, but they include much more than the citations in 162 periodicals which are regularly indexed annually. There seems to me to be little or no bias towards German language publications. The bibliography is broken into 15 main sections, some of them having subb-sections, and we find a very substantial coverage for the history of cartography. For example, in volume 27 (2000), we find:under the section A.1 History of Cartography: General Features, entries 0078-137 (59 citations);under the section A.2 Regional History of Cartography [broken into regional sub-sections], entries 0138-0412 (274 citations),under the section A.3 Epochs of the History of Cartography, entries 0413-0461 (48 citations)This is 381 citations, and there is considerably more under some sections not specifically designated as falling under the history of cartography. For example, section C, Biographical Aspects of Cartography, consists mainly of works which are directly relevant to the history of cartography, and contains entries 0462-0585 (123 citations). With the 381 citations above, we have 504 citations, and there are still several other main sections containing items of interest to cartohistorians. It is true that there is some duplication between citations in the various sections, but the amount of such duplication is not very large.
 In 2007, the bibliography became available as either a print source or an online source. This continued until 2013. Since then, it has been an online source only, regularly updated as the compilers become aware of new citations. It is open to the public, with no login, password, username, etc. required (How many sites requiring these vexing code-words do not really need them?). Simply Google [bibliographia cartographica] (easier than the URL), and there you are.
 The Internet site tells us that all the citations from 2007 to 2011 are now incorporated into the single ongoing online variant. But, although no specific comment is made to the effect, much from still earlier years of the bibliography have now been added in. This is clear from the following. 
The online bibliography allows for searches of all kinds (author, title, subject, and much more, including Boolean searches) to be made. The old printed volumes did have thorough indexes, but they were good for only one volume, and much less convennient. We shall take [Abraham Ortelius] as an example. If we enter him in the bibliography's search engine, we get 73 hits. But they do not all fall in the interval 2007-2017. There are a very good number going all the way back to 1991!
 This implies that, over time, the compilers may intend to incorporate all previous material into the single online searchable bibliography. But the informational notices at the site do not mention such an intention, although we know from the Ortelius example (and other examples, in general), that entries much farther bach than 2007 have been made. 
The compilers may be having difficulty deciding how to handle the question of adding previous citations to the bibliography. It may be perplexing to decide upon a cut-off point. As said above, the Bibliographia Cartographica was preceded by the Bibliotheca Cartographica, which began in 1954, and also had history of cartography sections. But, besides this, there was an unbroken production in Germany from 1954 back well into the 19th century of annual bibliographies which contained many citations on the history of cartography. On these older resopurces, see the little essay at the Bibliographia Cartographica site "Ueber die Bibliographia Cartographica", unfortunately lacking an English translation. Should all of these citations, from the very beginning in the 19th century, be ultimately incorporated into the present bibliography? It is not for me to give an opinion on this. 
However all of this may be, it is certain that the bibliography as it stands now, is a major bibliographical source, one that includes exctensive and simple search possibilities, and would be of much usefulness to the many cartohistorians who are uinaware of it. Doug  Douglas W Sims3516A Bayview AvenueBrooklyn, New York 11224 1-718-891-6684 dougsims1945 at yahoo.com
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