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Get to know the new ICA Executive Committee for the term 2023-2027
Get to know the ICA Commissions for the term 2023-2027

Carl M:son Mannerfelt (1913–2009)

Carl M:son Mannerfelt

Carl M:son Mannerfelt

Carl Mannerfelt died in September 2009 at the age of ninety six. Our thoughts are with his wife Ebba, their children and their families. To the International Cartographic Association (ICA) community he is best known for his work on the establishment of the ICA. Already in the 1940s, as the Director of Cartography at Esselte, he recognised a need to form an international association for cartography where academics and practitioners, national mapping organisations, as well as public and private companies, could meet, exchange professional experiences, discuss current issues and further develop cartographic techniques.

Mannerfelt was born in western Sweden but the family moved to Stockholm where he studied glaciology at the Stockholm University. He finished his doctoral studies in 1945 and his thesis about the final stage of the inland ice regression in Scandinavia is still a classic work. He continued to teach for some years but other activities eventually occupied more of his time.

Professionally Mannerfelt worked at Esselte since 1941 as a map editor. He became an assistant director in 1949, head of the Esselte military mapping in 1950 and eventually a board member of Esselte in 1951. In 1958 he became Executive Director (until 1974) and from 1964 to 1983 he chaired the Esselte board of directors. He has also held many board assignments in Swedish companies.

For a long time, Mannerfelt was active in the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography (SSAG). Between 1943–52 he was the editor of the SSAG Yearbook (Ymer). He was also a board member (1943–83) having various responsibilities such as treasurer, secretary and president. He was also a member of the organisation committee for the IGU congress in Stockholm in 1960. He was a committee member of the Swedish Cartographic Society 1950–60 and its president 1954–60. He organized the Esselte Conference on Applied Cartography in 1956, where he proposed a new initiative to establish an international association of cartographers, later known as the ICA.

Mannerfelt was Vice President of the ICA between 1959 and 1964. In 1979 he proposed to introduce the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal, the highest award of the Association, to honour cartographers of outstanding merit who have made significant contributions of an original nature to the field of cartography. The first medal was awarded to Professor Eduard Imhof, the inaugural President of the ICA. At the ICC 1997 in Stockholm he addressed the participants at the opening ceremony with a summary of how ICA was born.

Although cartography was Mannerfelt’s main interest he was also a very active in writing papers. Some 300 papers and manuscripts are archived at the Swedish National Archive in Stockholm. Mannerfelt had a deep interest in nature and outdoor activities, especially winter ones. His work for World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is well known and appreciated. In the 1970s he was very active in extending the conservation work to focus on sustainability in addition to protecting threaten species.

Among friends Carl Mannerfelt was known as Calle. He was always full of idealistic visions and capable of realising them in a friendly and efficient way. There were several memorial articles written in Swedish newspapers about him. His work for cartography is very much appreciated and valued by the ICA and the Swedish Cartographic Society.

Cartographers all over the world say: Thank you Calle.


Futher reading: Carl Mannerfelt is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal

Category: General News