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Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Map of the Month 04/2014: Back in time feature on Géoportail
Map of the Month 03/2014: Tongariro National Park
Map of the Month 02/2014: Collins World Watch

Diploma for outstanding services for David Woodward

David Woodward, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and former Curator, The Hermon Dunlop Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library, passed away in August of 2004. It was David Woodward and Brian Harley who conceived, organized and launched the monumental History of Cartography project, an effort that Prof. Woodward directed solo after the death of Prof. Harley. The project has resulted in several volumes to date, published by the University of Chicago Press, and it is bringing the study of the history of cartography into the modern milieu of scholarship with breadth of coverage and a sense of the social context of mapping that sets it apart from any previous efforts in the field. Prof. Woodward left a strong and funded Project organization that will assure its continuance to completion.

Prof. Woodward was gifted artistically and technically and produced a detailed shaded relief map of Wisconsin and co-directed the production of the “Cultural Map of Wisconsin” in sheet format and showing the location of a wealth of briefly-described cultural features throughout the state. He had a flair for design and could effectively communicate sound map design ideas in the classroom and in publications. He wrote elegantly and clearly. He was a perceptive theoretician who could readily participate in discussions of wide-ranging ideas within the field.

Despite all of his talents, or perhaps because of them, he was always helpful and encouraging to others. He treated colleagues and students (his own and others) with dignity, seriousness, and good humour, encouraging them in their pursuits. As such he has had an influence that surpasses the usual indicators of numbers of students and publications, of which he had many.

For his wide-ranging talents and for his profound contributions to the field, including his direction of the monumental History of Cartography Project, the International Cartographic Association bestows Special Recognition on David Woodward.

Category: General News

Arthur H. Robinson (1915–2004)

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson, of 7707 N. Brookline Dr Apt 302, Madison, Wisconsin, died at Meriter Hospital in Madison on October 10, 2004 after a brief illness. Arthur Robinson was born in Montréal, Canada on January 5, 1915, the son of James Howard Robinson and Elizabeth (Peavey) Robinson. His early education was in the United States and in England, after which he took the Bachelor of Arts degree at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1936, the M.A. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison,

Wisconsin in 1938 and the Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1947.

From mid-1941 until 1946 he worked in Washington, DC with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, and for almost all of that time he was Chief of the Map Division of the OSS. In that position he supervised numerous types of cartographic work, including the preparation of nearly 5,000 maps, in support of the global war effort. During the war he was commissioned in the Army with the initial rank of captain, and was later promoted to major. For his distinguished service in the OSS he received the Legion of Merit.

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

In 1945 the University of Wisconsin at Madison offered Robinson a faculty position in the Department of Geography, and he began teaching there in 1946. He rose rapidly in the ranks of the faculty, becoming Professor of Geography and, in 1967, Lawrence Martin Professor of Cartography. He retired in 1980 with the rank of Professor Emeritus.

During his long career he produced fifteen books and monographs, one of which, Elements of Cartography, went through six editions and became the preeminent textbook in cartography. However, the contribution for which he is probably best known to the public was the creation of the Robinson Projection, a map projection that he referred to as “a portrait of the earth.” In 1988 the National Geographic Society adopted that projection as its standard for producing world maps. The Robinson projection was adopted by agencies of the U.S. Government and many other users.

Robinson’s work was internationally recognized, and among his many honors were two honorary degrees (from Miami University (Ohio) and from Ohio State University), the Distinguished Service Award and the Helen Culver Gold Medal from the Geographic Society of Chicago, the Carl Mannerfelt Medal of the International Cartographic Association, the Silver Medal of the British Cartographic Society, and the John Oliver LaGorce Medal of the National Geographic Society. He served as president of the International Cartographic Association, and as vice president and president of the Association of American Geographers.

Robinson’s marriage of more than 50 years to the former Mary Elizabeth Coffin ended in 1992 with her death. He later remarried, and is survived by his wife Martha E. Robinson of Madison, son Stephen M. Robinson (Chong-Suk Robinson) of Madison, daughter Patricia A. Robinson (Leslie Kramer) of Sonoita, Arizona, stepdaughter Carita Baker (Ron Baker) of Hamilton, Ohio, stepson Carl James Phillips (Sandie Phillips) of Hamilton, Ohio, stepdaughter Clarissa Lowry (Miles Lowry) of Wheaton, IL, granddaughter Diana M. Oestreich (Nathan Oestreich) of Menlo Park, California, grandson James A. Robinson of Palo Alto, California, and families of the above.

Stephen M. Robinson

Further reading: Arthur H. Robinson is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal

Category: General News

Honorary Fellowship for Harold Moellering

Dr. Harold Moellering is professor of geography at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he is Director of the Numerical Cartography Laboratory. He has served on many national committees including the U.S. National Committee for ICA and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on Cartography . He has also served on editorial boards for cartography and GIS journals. His research specialties include numerical, analytical and dynamic cartography, and geographic information systems.

Prof. Moellering’s central contribution to ICA has been as chair of what is now the Commission on Spatial Data Standards. He has chaired the Commission for several terms and has overseen numerous productive workshops and Commission meetings in a wide variety of venues. During his tenure, the Commission has produced three books, all published by Elsevier: Spatial Database Transfer Standards: Current International Status (1991), Spatial Database Transfer Standards 2: Characteristics for Assessing Standards and Full Descriptions of the National and International Standards in the World (1997), and World Spatial Metadata Standards, currently in press. He has also served on numerous other standards committees, both national and international, has presented many papers at ICA and other professional meetings, and has published in and edited special issues of cartography and GIS journals.

For his contribution to ICA as chair of the Standards commission and for his furtherance of standards in the international digital cartographic community, Prof. Moellering is awarded an ICA Honorary Fellowship.

Category: General News

Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal awarded to Joel Morrison

Dr. Joel Morrison is currently Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Mapping at Ohio State University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, in 1968, his M.Sc. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, in 1964, and his B.A. from Miami University, Oxford, OH, in 1962.

He served as an ICA Vice-President for a number of years and as ICA President from 1984-1987, continuing on the ICA Executive as Past President for four years, as well. He was the recipient of an ICA Honorary Fellowship in 1991, was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Union of Surveying and Mapping, a U.S. representative to the ICA Commission on Cartographic Communication, Chair of the United States Board of Geographic Names, and President of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and chair of its Cartography Division, which he was instrumental in changing to the American Cartographic Association (now Cartography and Geographic Information Society). He was one of the organizers of the Cartography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and recently was the AAG Treasurer. In 1999, he was awarded the Anderson Medal, the highest honour of the AAG Applied Geography Specialty Group which was bestowed in recognition of highly distinguished service to the profession of geography.

His distinguished employment career includes service in major government agencies, including Assistant Division Chief for Research in the National Mapping Division of the United States Geological Survey, and Chief of the Geography Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, he taught for many years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he educated and inspired numerous cartography and geography students and served as chair of Department of Geography.

Dr. Morrison is the one of the long-time co-authors of Elements of Cartography, the classic English-language resource in cartography. It provides a solid conceptual foundation in the basic principles of cartography while introducing the technological advances, which have greatly altered modern cartographic techniques. He has been associate editor and senior consultant to Goode’s World Atlas, and his innovative and stimulating articles have appeared in professional journals worldwide, and his thought-provoking presentations are always on the forefront of developments in the field.

For his leadership in cartography, for his positive influence on mapping and related programs in the United States and other countries, and for his outstanding commitment to the profession of cartography, Dr. Joel L. Morrison is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal.

Category: General News

Honorary Fellowship for Judy Olson

Dr. Judy Olson is professor of geography at the Michigan State University at East Lansing. Dr. Olson received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from Wisconsin, she has held academic positions at the University of Georgia, Boston University, and more recently Michigan State University.

Dr. Olson’s seminal research has focused on cartographic communication, design and symbolization. Her early projects included the improvement of dot mapping techniques, and a focus on the cognitive aspects of cartography. More recently, Dr. Olson’s research has looked at colour theory and use on maps, including the design of maps for persons who are colour blind. At all of her teaching positions, she has educated some of the very best and brightest graduated students.

Dr. Olson’s professional service to the profession of cartography has been nothing short of exceptional. She has served as Associate Editor and Editor of the journal The American Cartographer, now Cartography and Geographic Information Science, President of the Association of American Geographers, Chair of the AAG’s Cartography Specialty Group, and Chair of the Geography Department at Michigan State University. For many years she served as chair of the US National committee for ICA. She served as Vice President of the International Cartographic Association (1992-1999). She took over this position at short notice after the unfortunate premature death of Barbara Petchenik. As Vice President she had many proactive contributions and involvement in running the EC business and played a leading role in organising commission chair and national delegates meetings. In the commission on theory of cartography she contributed to the redefinition of cartography.

Category: General News

Honorary Fellowship for Richard Dahlberg

Richard Dahlberg served on the International Cartographic Association Standing Commission on Education and Training from 1972 until his unexpected death in late 1996. He actively participated in, and led many working sessions of the Commission and authored 18 papers on cartographic education which he presented at ICA sponsored conferences and seminars. Professor Dahlberg’s continued service to cartographic education is illustrated by the 35 or more papers on cartographic education in the United States and the World which he authored and presented over a period of 30 years. Within the United States, Richard Dahlberg served as President of both the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and the Cartographic and Geographic Information Society, and also edited the journal The American Cartographer.

The Executive Committee of the International Cartographic Association, by virtue of the power vested in it by the statutes and by-laws, hereby elects Richard Dahlberg as an Honorary Fellow in recognition of his outstanding organizational, educational and scholarly contributions to International Cartography.

Category: General News

Richard E. Dahlberg (1928–1996)

1997-dahlbergSince the ICA conference in Morelia in 1987, the Commission on Education and Training has operated under joint command – that of Richard Dahlberg and myself. This came suddenly to an end last December when Richard died aged 68. He had been ill since last August when, all set for joining the joint ICA commissions seminar in Santiago de Chile, he was hospitalized for what seemed to be an ulcer. At the hospital it proved to be a malign tumor. Still, the outlook was mildly favourable at first, and we made plans for a meeting at the forthcoming ICA conference in Stockholm. This was not to be, as his situation suddenly deteriorated, with this tragic result on December 15 1996.

Richard was born in Erie, on Lake Erie, in 1928 and during his military training was able to follow courses in geography at George Washington University where he got his BA degree. This was followed up later in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he took his M.A. and with a PhD in geography at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After graduating, together with his wife Patricia he took up teaching posts in Los Angeles, and Syracuse and finally he became chair of the Geography Department at the University of Northern Illinois in DeKalb. There he organized one of the more important MSc cartography programmes in the United States (and almost succeeded in adding a PhD programme) as well as the NIU Lab for Cartography and Spatial Analysis. Richard became the foremost publicist on cartographic education programmes in the United States, advocating a stronger cooperation between the sister sciences in the surveying and mapping field, especially between remote sensing and cartography. So he was the natural choice to represent the US in CET from its early days: Richard succeeded Brice Burroughs as such in 1972.

We first met that year in a train entering the German Democratic Republic. Patricia and Richard were having discus­sions with the local border guards about their visas. We were on our way to Weimar in order to discuss the contributions to the Basic Cartography manual CET was producing. Richard was an active member of the commission and had an important part in the Wuhan Seminar on Advanced Cartographic Education and Training (SACET) in 1986. Patricia who was actively participating in the Chinese-American association at NIU and who had hosted a Chinese family was able to join him as well. Those careless days at the WTUSM in Wuhan, where the foreign lecturers had their meals together, as a group participated in rock concerts and in motorized trips to visit the panda in Wuhan zoo now seem very remote indeed.

As we had cooperated well in the production of the exercise manual that was to accompany the Basic Cartography Series as well as in other CET projects, it was a logical step to jointly succeed Karl-Heinz Meine the next year when he stepped down as chair of CET in Morelia in 1987.

From 1987 onwards, Richard co-organized (joint ICA commissions-or) CET seminars in Munich (1988), Enschede (1989), Budapest (1989), Bangkok (1991), College Park (1992), Chicago (1993), Visegrad (1993), Bangkok (1994), Istanbul (1994) and Madrid (1995). He continued his support of CET despite his heavy involvement in the American Cartographic Association, as editor of the American Cartographer/Cartography and GIS, and as member of the board and President of ACSM. Counting Yogyakarta (1984) as well, Santiago would have been his 16th CET seminar, not connected to any regular ICA conference.

Richard’s contribution was especially important in the theoretical field. It was he who decided on the theoretical issues to be tackled, and who compiled the relevant texts in the correct terminology. He also had the necessary contacts with representatives of the sister sciences, essential for Basic Cartography volume 3, and who could convene a representative selection of those representatives in order to discuss basic concepts in the surveying and mapping field. We were to have held a follow-up seminar on this issue to commemorate his retirement, last year in DeKalb, but we left it until too late. It would have been a fitting tribute.

Richard lived for teaching. He spent a large amount of time preparing his lectures, even during the seminars – CET members will remember Richard sitting in “his” study (requisitioned from one of the directors), at the Land Development Department in Bangkok, putting the finishing touches to the lectures he presented there. The FIPSE exchange students from my university in Utrecht that spent semesters in DeKalb were all enthusiastic about Richard’s lectures and his support. At the end of last December one of them graduated, and as I handed her diploma she talked again about her time in DeKalb. I did not have the heart to spoil her day and tell her Richard had just died.

Despite an increasing deafness that bothered him a bit in his work and the heavy investments in time required by the fact that his Dean assigned him some new teaching tasks the last year before his retirement, Richard kept making time for CET’s activities. Even when he had to decline to join us for our next seminar in Gifu, Japan, I knew he would be there when really needed. Richard Dahlberg is already sorely missed.

Ferjan Ormeling


I first met Dick Dahlberg over 30 years ago. We both attended the Quantitative Institute in Geography, a six week workshop organised by Ned Taaffe at Ohio State University in Columbus in 1965. It was my first visit to the United States and shall never forget the way he subtly imparted information and gave me advice on the American way of life. It was a real pleasure to work with him and to meet him again at many ICA conferences over the last 25 years. He was very positive and generous in spirit and will be sorely missed.

Chris Board

Category: General News
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Honorary Fellowship for Joseph Wiedel

The Executive Committee of the International Cartographic Association (ICA), by virtue of the power vested in it by the statutes and by-laws, hereby elects Joseph Wiedel as an Honorary Fellow in recognition of his successful endeavour during more than thirty years inspiring cartographers world-wide to develop cartography in Tactile and Low-Vision Mapping based on his outstanding research work and serving ICA in that field.

Category: General News

Arthur H. Robinson is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal

Biography of Prof Robinson generously supplied by the US National Committee for ICA

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson was born January 5, 1915 in Montreal, Canada, of American parents. His early education was in Northfield, Minnesota and later in Oxford, Ohio, where his father was Professor of History. In his early teens during his father’s two sabbaticals he lived in England, and attended the Friend’s School Saffron Walden for one year.

He entered Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1932 and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in January 1936, with a major in history and a minor in geography. After graduating, he served six months as secretary to a member of the Ohio Board of Liquor Control, but in August 1936 he decided to enter graduate school. He obtained a graduate teaching assistantship in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studying under Professors V.C. Finch, G.T. Trewartha and J.R. Whitaker. His interest in cartography was kindled during this period when he had the first (and only) course in cartography from Professor Finch and a field mapping course from Professor Trewartha. He was granted a Master of Arts degree in 1938.

In the same year he began work toward the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Geography at The Ohio State University, Columbus, studying primarily under Professors G.H. Smith and R. Peattie. His minor field was geomorphology in the Department of Geology.

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

On December 23, 1938, he married Mary Elizabeth Coffin. They have two children: Stephen M. and Patricia A., born respectively in 1942 and 1948. While pursuing his graduate studies at Ohio State University, he began doing free lance cartographic work, such as for R. Peattie’s Geography in Human Destiny (1940) and for Scott, Foresman and Company, publishers of This Useful World (1941), and the Our World series.

He completed his qualifying examinations for the Ph.D. in the spring of 1941 and planned to begin work on a dissertation in September, but chance interfered. Professor R. Hartshorne, newly appointed Chief of the Geography Division of Colonel Wm. Donovan’s agency, Coordinator of Information (later to become the Office of Strategic Services, OSS), happened to stay overnight with R. Peattie while en route to Washington, DC. Hartshorne was looking for a geographer-cartographer and Peattie recommended Robinson. In October of 1941, Robinson went to Washington and some months later was named Chief of the Cartography Section of the Geography Division. In a subsequent reorganisation of the Research and Analysis Branch of the OSS, a Map Division was created with Robinson as its Chief. It consisted of four sections, Cartography, Map Intelligence, Topographic Models and Photography. In addition to serving the needs of the OSS, especially the Research and Analysis Branch, the Map Division, OSS, prepared most of the strategic maps for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and prepared the base materials for the daily situation maps for the Operations Division of the War Department.

The Map Division, primarily Map Intelligence and Cartography, had overseas offices in the principal theaters. Robinson served as the Chief Map Officer for the American delegation at the two Allied Quebec Conferences and the Cairo Conference. While in the OSS he was commissioned Captain and rose to Major in the Army of the United States.

In the summer of 1945 Robinson accepted the offer of an assistant professorship in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and began his teaching duties in January of 1946. Meanwhile he had changed his plans for a dissertation and proposed a new topic having to do with cartographic methodology. It was approved and the degree was awarded by Ohio State in 1947. The dissertation was revised and became his first book, The Look of Maps, an Examination of Cartographic Design (1952), published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

During his 35 years in the Department of Geography, he taught physical geography and established the instructional program in cartography. Through his efforts a mapmaking establishment was formed, growing from a small organisation in the late 40s to become the official University of Wisconsin Cartographic Laboratory in 1966. He also led the drive which culminated in the University offering Bachelors and Masters degrees in Cartography. He retired from teaching and was granted emeritus status in 1980.

The first edition of his Elements of Cartography (John Wiley and Sons) was published in 1953. The fifth edition (with R.D. Sale, J.L. Morrison and P.C. Muehrcke) was issued in 1985. Altogether he is the author or co-author of 16 books and monographs, including The Look of Maps, Elements of Cartography (5 editions), Fundamentals of Physical Geography (3 editions), Elements of Geography (2 editions), The Fidelity of Isopleth Maps, Dot Area Symbols in Cartography, The Atlas of Wisconsin, The Nature of Maps, Early Thematic Mapping in the History of Cartography, more than 50 professional articles, and numerous maps in books, editorials, reviews, encyclopedia articles, etc.

He has been active professionally, both in cartography and geography. He served as President of the International Cartographic Association (1972-76), was a member of Commissions II and IV and is currently a member of the Commission on the History of Cartography for which he is serving as co-editor of the Glossary of Cartographic Innovations Prior to 1900. In the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping he served on the Board of Directors, was Chairman of the Cartographic Division and was editor of The American Cartographer during its first three years. He was President of the Association of American Geographers (1963-64). He was instrumental in the establishment of the Office of the State Cartographer in Wisconsin and served as first Chairman of the Committee on State Cartography.

Professor Robinson has received numerous honors and awards, including the United States Army – Legion of Merit (1946); Association of American Geographers -Citation for Meritorious Contributions (1953); Geographic Society of Chicago – Distinguished Service Award (1959) and the Helen Culver Gold Medal (1983); Guggenheim Foundation – Research Fellowships (1964 and 1978); American Congress on Surveying and Mapping – Earle J. Fennell Award (1977), Honorary Member (1978), and Cartography Division Award for Meritorious Service (1979); University of Wisconsin, named Lawrence Martin Professor of Cartography (1967) and its map collection was named the Arthur H. Robinson Map Library (1982). He is the recipient of two honorary degrees: Miami University – Doctor of Letters (1966) and The Ohio State University – Doctor of Science (1984).


On 25 February 1981 during a special session of the ACSM Spring Convention in Washington DC Arthur Robinson was presented the highest ICA distinction: the Carl Mannerfelt Medal. During the ceremony President Ormeling addressed the meeting as follows:

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Speaking on behalf of the International Cartographic Association I would like first of all to express my appreciation for the gesture of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping in granting me the opportunity to mount this platform. The more so as this presentation will take place, though for reasons of an altruistic nature, upon the explicit initiative of the ICA itself.

The reason of this intrusion is the decision of the Executive Committee of our Association, upon recommendation of its Committee for the Selection of Award Recipients to pay tribute in public to an American scientist who is internationally esteemed for his promotion of the discipline of cartography.

No location was considered to be better suited for this ceremony than the home country of the scientist concerned, i.e. his national professional environment, thus enabling colleagues and friends to attend the presentation and to rejoice in the tribute paid to their compatriot. Further no occasion was thought to be more suitable for the ceremony than an ACSM convention, where, contrary to the situation in most other parts of the world, the collective surveying and mapping community in all its diversity and unity participates.

The distinction that will be presented is a medal, a bronze medal – only photogrammetrists could afford gold – and bears the name of the Swedish scientist Dr. Carl M:son Mannerfelt, who initiated the International Cartographic Association in the fifties. The medal was established during a meeting of the Executive Committee in the Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm where the inspiring portraits of great explorers such as Nordenskjold and Sven Hedin were looking down upon us. So far the medal was only presented to the Swiss cartographer Eduard Imhof, who was the first president of our Association.

After this background description of the present ceremony it is time to unveil the identity of its beneficiary, Dr. Arthur Howard Robinson, Lawrence Martin Professor in Cartography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Honorary Member of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping and recipient of many American distinctions.

In the records of the International Cartographic Association, Dr. Robinson’s name is highly recognised for his valuable contribution to the development of the discipline of cartography. There are three distinct sectors of cartographic activity in which he has distinguished himself:

1. Scientific research, 2. Education and 3. Management

In the scientific sector Dr. Robinson repeatedly emphasises the central core of cartography i.e. the presentation of spatial data. His message is that amidst the dramatic technological modifications of the map production process, the fact should not be overlooked that maps are utilitarian, that they are communication devices i.e. instruments for understanding and communicating environmental data. Fully realising that map making continues to depend heavily on technology, he emphasises that the functions of technical operations have to be considered in relation to the main objective of the map. His concern for the function of communicating environmental data has resulted in a long series of research publications and masters and doctoral theses on communication and perception in cartography. These publications have led to better insight of practical information transmission and at the same time to a better understanding of the nature of maps. Almost needless to say that Dr. Robinson in this field is considered an authority of international reputation.

In his search for a general theory of cartography, Dr. Robinson became further deeply involved in the study of the history of cartography, particularly of thematic cartography, in which field he discovered that many of our current methods have a long and interesting history. It is no exaggeration to state that Dr. Robinson is the dean of the historians of cartography in North America if not of the Western World.

In the field of education Dr. Robinson’s name stands for a combination of a precise command of language and subject matter. He has the gift to explain complicated problems in simple, lucid words. Undoubtedly this talent has also contributed to the success of the cartographic curriculum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which developed under his guidance into one of the leading centres of cartographic education in the Western World, and where many students from overseas have been enrolled under Robinson’s supervision. The same teaching talent underlies the success of the textbook Elements of Cartography, undoubtedly one of Robinson’s most valuable contributions to international cartography. The book first came out in 1953, since then with great regularity, every 8-9 years new editions have appeared. The present fourth edition was written in collaboration with Dr. Morrison and Mr. Sale. It is a rare privilege in the publishing world to be an author of a textbook on an ever changing subject such as cartography which after almost 30 years is still in great demand. It is a hallmark of the capacity of the main author Dr. Robinson to keep abreast with the technological innovations and to merge them into a textbook which still serves as a guide par excellence for a growing population of cartography students in the English speaking world.

In the field of management special mention should be made of Dr. Robinson’s contributions to the International Cartographic Association, of which he was President from 1972 to 1976. He was a fine President. Upon his initiative, an ICA Publications Committee was created, which has successfully started a series of ICA Publications since then. It was under his presidency that the Commissions were properly organised for specific time periods with well-defined terms of reference. Also during his Presidency the so called Third World Strategy of the Association was adopted, which resulted in a series of seminars held in developing countries. Undoubtedly his scientific authority contributed much to maintain order and discipline in the Association which, due to diverging political structures and interests of its member countries, is not always easy, particularly not in an Association devoted to a subject such as cartography.

Further the international cartographic community has greatly benefited from Dr. Robinson’s initiative in establishing The American Cartographer in the early seventies. Under his editorship and later under that of Dr. Judy Olson the journal with its well-balanced selection of articles, reports and reviews, rapidly became one of the leading bulletins in the western world comparable only with a few sophisticated publications such as the British, Canadian and West German sister journals.

The ICA Committee for the Selection of Award Recipients in reviewing Dr. Robinson’s curriculum vitae and publications had to overcome one particular problem. It discovered that the distinguished professor started his career long ago in the thirties as secretary of the Ohio Board of Liquor Control, which made him rather suspicious in the eyes of some, and overzealous in the eyes of others. The fact that Dr. and Mrs. Robinson at mature age settled on biblical ground in Wisconson in the township of Mount Horeb (Hebrew for Mount Sinai), reconciled the conflicting opinions in the Committee.

Dr. Robinson, it is said that a prophet is not honoured in his own country. From the very fact that an impressive number of awards and honours have been bestowed upon you in the past in your home country, it follows that either this rule does not apply to you or the qualification of prophet does not fit you, which I am sure you will appreciate most. However, for your friends in the international cartographic community your word stands for wise and philosophical understanding and as such has a prophetic connotation.

As a token of the deep appreciation of the International Cartographic Association for your promotion of the profession, I am honoured to present you the Dr. Carl Mannerfelt Medal, the highest distinction we have, it bears the inscription in Latin “Ob Merita Egregia” which means “Acquired by Extraordinary Merits”.

Before presenting you the distinction I may finally read the citation of the Medal Committee which once more underlines our appreciation.

“In recognition of his scholarly contributions to the theory and development of cartography and of his leadership in cartographic education and research, in particular in the fields of the History of Cartography, Communication and Perception in Cartography, as reflected by the long series of his research publications and of those Master and Doctoral theses produced under his supervision, which have greatly contributed to the recognition of cartography as a profession in its own right and to the formation of a new generation of academically educated cartographers who are now dispersed over the world further stimulating progress in the profession.”


Further reading: Obituary for Mr. Robinson

Category: General News