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This is the title of a series of several episodes, each of which features websites that offer digitized images of old maps. Many of them are already included in our pages. But the episodes mention some characteristics specific to each site such as the periods and geographical areas considered, the access mode, the number of files. It has been prepared by Atelier Ideas & Research (AIR), a non-profit social promotion association, made up of young researchers, which deals with social sciences and humanities. All the information you will find on the site is free.
You will find links to the various episodes on one of our Links page.

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Herr Dr. Peter H. Meurer

10 April 1951 – 11 March 2020


Peter Heinrich Meurer was born on 10 April 1951 in the small village of Horst (now part of the city of Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, close to the Dutch provincial border of Limburg), the son of a shoemaker. Upon the early death of his mother, his grandfather brought him up and formed his attitude to life. Having been educated at the classical secondary school of Heinsberg, and following his military service, he studied geography and history of architecture at the Technical College of North Rhine-Westphalia in Aachen from 1972 to 1977, with history, town planning, history of art and geodesy as secondary subjects. He obtained his M.A. with a study of the fortified settlements in the Duchy of Jülich.
In 1981, Peter Meurer enrolled in Bonn University to read history of science. His dissertation on Atlases published in Cologne, terminated in 1984, was rejected owing to some academic rivalry between professors. It finally appeared in book form in 1988, entitled Atlantes Colonienses: Die Kölner Schule der Atlaskartographie 1570-1610, one of Meurer’s most successful publications. He then launched a new project with the publisher of Atlantes Coloniensis, Dietrich Pfaehler of Bad Neustadt: the publication of Speculum Orbis, a scholarly cartographic periodical which started in 1985 but unfortunately ceased to exist in 1988.
In 1987, Peter Meurer married Heike, née Raschdorf, his friend of many years, who became the pillar of his life.
In order to enable his return to the academic world, Professor Wolfgang Scharfe of the Berlin Free University invited Peter Meurer to undertake his PhD as a post-graduate external student. It so happened that his new work, the Fontes Cartographici Orteliani, was nearly completed and it fitted well into the programme of Scharfe’s Institute. This important analysis of Ortelius’s sources for his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was published in 1991.
Around 1988, the idea of an Imago Germaniae project was born, a study he was to pursue at the Documentation Centre for German Regional Studies at the University of Trier from 1992 to 1997. This resulted in the publication of the Corpus der älteren Germania-Karten [Collection of early maps of Germania] in 2001. When the Trier Institute was closed in favour of the Leibniz Institute for Regional Studies in Leipzig, Peter Meurer reluctantly left the town and University of Trier and moved back to his parents’ home in Heinsberg.
Another professional opportunity arose in 1998 at the Gerhard-Mercator University of Duisburg. A research project on Christian Sgrooten, jointly elaborated with Utrecht University, prompted this move. However, when this university was merged with that of Essen in 2002, Peter Meurer once more lost a promising research possibility. Nevertheless, and in spite of a lack of perspectives and regular employment, he concluded the Sgrooten project as a scientific study on his own. There followed a period of serious hardship for Peter Meurer. Three new propositions for research projects had been rejected, and in 2004 he suffered a heart attack, necessitating a bypass operation. For a while he turned to working with antiquarians and collectors to earn his living. Finally, a job creation programme of the German Research Foundation (DFG) permitted him to regain access to the scientific community. Between September 2008 and July 2011, he was responsible for a project on the Werkausgabe Caspar Vopelius [The complete works of Caspar Vopelius] which he concluded successfully. It was not, however, published as such, due to financial constraints.
These many setbacks, aggravated by deteriorating health, led Peter Meurer to abandon scientific work and in 2014 he decided to go into early retirement. In 2016 he finally returned to his long-standing favourite theme of maps of the Catholic German Order, and in particular to those produced by the missionaries of Steyl. Since purchasing original atlases had become cheaper than obtaining scans, he became a collector himself, assembling an almost complete set of these atlases. The resulting study was published in Cartographica Helvetica Vol. 58/2019, his ultimate contribution to a Journal he had served for thirty years.
Peter Meurer’s untimely death is an immense loss to all those intimately involved in the history of cartography. One cannot but admire his impressive capacity for work and his enormous creative output. Obliged to subsist under the most trying of circumstances, he persevered in following his scientific vocation, delivering major contributions to the History of Cartography that range from Ptolemy to 20th-century missionary maps. His books on the Cologne Atlases, on Ortelius, the Corpus of early Germania maps, and on Sgrooten are masterpieces that have become indispensable works of reference. It is these that will keep alive our memories of a great scholar and map historian. His complete bibliography with 200 entries will be published in Cartographica Helvetica Vol. 61/2020.


By Wulf Bodenstein
(Summary of the Obituary to be published in Imago Mundi – By permission)
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Note from the Editor
Peter Meurer joined the BIMCC in June, 1999. We are grateful to him for having contributed the following articles:
  • in the context of the 6th International BIMCC Conference Formatting Europe – Mapping a Continent: Europa Regina. 16th century maps of Europe in the form of a queen, in: Belgeo 2008/3-4, pp. 359-368
  • with Pierre Dumolin, Two unrecorded Lafreri-type maps of Hainaut and Southern France, in: Maps in History No 47, September 2013, pp. 14-18
  • The Map of the 1542 Franco-Habsburg War by Enea Vico, in: Maps in History No 53, September 2015, pp. 16-19
  • The Cologne publisher Gerhard Altzenbach and Liège or: A Chapter from the Complexity of Cartobibliography, in: Maps in History No 55, May 2016, pp. 20-26.

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On 4 April 2020, the Franco-German TV channel Arte ran a documentary film entitled Abenteuer Äquator, Die Entdeckung der Tropen / À la recherche de l'équateur [Equator adventure, the discovery of the tropics]. This 90 minutes film takes us around the world, following the equinoctial line. Quite logically, it starts in Ecuador, where French scientist Charles Marie La Condamine spent six years, from 1736, to measure an arc of meridian and improve the knowledge of our planet (see Maps in History No 45, p. 10). La Condamine mapped this very difficult terrain and explored it, before exploring the Amazon basin on his way back to France. In the early 19th century, he was followed by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonplan.
Wulf Bodenstein en Arte.tv
Wulf Bodenstein on Arte.tv
The film then makes stops in the Galapagos, in the Kiribati islands, in Java (Franz Willem Junghuhn, the Humboldt of Java who produced a thorough scientific and topographic description of the country in 1865), Borneo, the Maldives, Kenya and Uganda, Congo (via Tervuren!), Brazzaville, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe and Brazil.
Wulf Bodenstein en Arte.tv
Wulf Bodenstein on Arte.tv
In Tervuren, it is Wulf Bodenstein who explains the story of the Congo exploration using the giant map of the Africamuseum (see Maps in History No 66, p. 16); Wulf then shows various maps in his office and in the adjacent reading room. His colleague Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi, curator of the Stanley archives, continues with the story of the Stanley second expedition and of the take-over by Leopold II.
Wulf Bodenstein en Arte.tv
Wulf Bodenstein on Arte.tv
The documentary is certainly worth seeing, not only because of the remarkable performance of our friend Wulf! It has high historical and cartographic contents, and it also covers other interesting subjects related to the environment, local life, etc. It can be seen on www.arte.tv until 4 May 2020.
By Jean-Louis Renteux

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Abenteuer Äquator - Die Entdeckung der Tropen / À la recherche de l'équateur [Equator adventure - The discovery of the tropics]. A television programme of Arte TV. 89 minutes. Available from 3 April 2020 to 3 May 2020. Prochaine diffusion le dimanche 19 avril à 02.35.
Voyage autour de la Terre, sur le fil luxuriant de l'équateur, dans le sillage des expéditions scientifiques passées, ainsi que des hommes qui préservent et étudient cet anneau de biodiversité.
Cette ligne imaginaire de 40 000 kilomètres révèle la volonté de l'homme de contrôler le monde en le cartographiant. Elle est bordée par une bande luxuriante, les tropiques, où, en raison d'un climat stable, la nature prospère comme nulle part ailleurs. L'équateur et la région qui l'entoure ont fasciné aventuriers et scientifiques qui ont très tôt bravé les dangers réels ou supposés de cet "enfer vert" peuplé de cannibales pour l'explorer. En 1735, une expédition française, émanant de l'Académie des sciences, se rend pour la première fois dans la région équatoriale de l'Amérique du Sud. Elle vise à prendre des mesures de l'arc du méridien afin de se faire une idée plus juste de la courbure de la Terre. Les trois savants français qui y participent reviendront huit ans plus tard, leur mission accomplie, avec une cartographie plus précise de cette région du monde. Au XIXe siècle, le botaniste allemand Alexander von Humboldt prend le relais. Conscient que la nature s'épanouit davantage sous les tropiques, il recensera des centaines d'espèces animales et végétales lors de ses pérégrinations, rapportant des dizaines de milliers de spécimens en Europe.
Archives du vivant
Étudiant en théologie féru de géologie, Charles Darwin se passionnera, lui, pour la faune et la flore des Galápagos, et dévoilera le formidable laboratoire de l'évolution que constitue cet archipel. Sur les pas de ces explorateurs, ce documentaire revisite leurs découvertes, les extraordinaires archives du vivant qu'ils ont permis de constituer, ainsi que les travaux actuels des scientifiques, car la région tropicale n'a pas fini de révéler ses secrets. De Quito aux îles Kiribati, des Maldives au Kenya, ce superbe voyage autour de la Terre nous entraîne aussi au cœur de régions paradisiaques tout en montrant avec précision les ravages du changement climatique et les initiatives pour préserver ces territoires à l'exceptionnelle biodiversité.
Réalisation : Hannah Leonie Prinzler

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Since its foundation in 1838 by Guillaume-Henri Dufour, swisstopo has produced three official national map series, the topographical map of Switzerland 1:100’000 (Dufour Map), the topographical atlas 1:25’000 / 1:50’000 (Siegfried Map) and the Swiss National Maps in different scales. The collection of these products constitutes a cultural asset of national significance which qualifies as a kind of «topographical landscape memory of Switzerland». The «journey through time» allows to interactively explore the evolution of the landscape.
See more

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Ninety five percent of the content published on OpenEdition Journals and eighty percent of the books on OpenEdition Books are usually open access. In response to requests from readers and the call made by many academic institutions, OpenEdition contacted the publishers of journals and books from these two platforms to request to open or expand access to their content during the pandemic containment period.
Several responded quickly to give their consent. You will find the list on this page, regularly updated.
Among the titles:

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Monique Pelletier (1934–2020)


Monique Pelletier spent her entire career at the Bibliothèque nationale de France [BnF, National Library of France] after studying at the prestigious École nationale des chartes [National School of Charters]. She entered the BnF Print Department in 1960, and produced the paper catalogue of prints for the years 1960-1970. Appointed director of the maps and plans department in 1976, she modernised it and, in particular, implemented the computerisation of the general catalogue of cartographic collections, the outcome of which in the early 2000s offered users an exceptional tool for finding ancient and modern maps, plans, and globes. In addition, she was the overall commissioner of the major exhibition of the history of cartography, Couleurs de la Terre (Paris, 1999),and the author of numerous publications which were compiled in a tribute volume when she retired that year:Tours et contours de la Terre: itinéraires d'une femme au cœur de la cartographie [Tours and outlines of the Earth; itineraries of a woman at the heart of cartography]. Her name is associated in particular with the history of the Cassini map from La carte de Cassini : l'extraordinaire aventure de la carte de France [The Cassini map: the extraordinary adventure of the map of France] (1990) to the revised, pocket-book, (3rd) edition Les cartes des Cassini: la science au service de l’État et des régions (2013) [The Cassini maps: science serving the country and the regions].
Monique Pelletier
Monique Pelletier at the 2006 Mare Nostrum BIMCC Conference © Jean-Louis Renteux.
Members of the Brussels Map Circle will recall her participation in the earlier conferences of the BIMCC at the Collège Saint-Michel: at the second BIMCC Conference in 2000, the title of her lecture was From Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570) to Bouguereau’s Théatre Françoys (1594). In 2002 she spoke about The Mediterranean and French hydrography of the 18th century, and in 2006 her subject was Cosmography and Sea Charts in the early 16th century; Martin Waldseemüller’s case. She developed the subject further in an article in BIMCC Newsletter No 27.
Her strong involvement in national and international authorities, her insatiable curiosity and her profound taste for research into the history of cartography will leave a lasting imprint on the international community of cartographic historians. Read more.

Lisette Danckaert (1930-2020)


Lisette started her professional career as a librarian at the Royal Library of Belgium way back in 1954, hardly a year after obtaining her M.A. degree in geography from the Université libre de Bruxelles. But it was 1969 before she entered the Map Room. By then she had already participated in various projects relating to the history of cartography and had published notable contributions in this field. In 1958, within the framework of the Brussels World Fair, she was responsible for the exhibition Brussel in kaart en beeld | Image de Bruxelles - Cartes et plans [Brussels in maps and images] and in 1965 she helped Antoine De Smet, the then head of the Map Room, to organise the exhibition on Dutch cartography. In 1967-68, she curated a second exhibition on city maps, with maps not only of Brussels but also of 18 other Belgian cities. Both exhibitions announced what would be the focus of her research: the attentive scrutiny and description of the cartographic document.
Lisette Danckaert at the KBR in October 2006
Lisette Danckaert at the KBR in October 2006
In 1968 she published her fundamental work on the topography of Brussels: L'évolution territoriale de Bruxelles. La cartographie de 1550 à 1840 (Bruxelles, Arcade, 1968), which would form the basis for her bestseller 21 years later, Bruxelles. Cinq siècles de cartographie (Tielt, Lannoo; Knokke, Mappamundi, 1989). In 1974 Lisette took over from Antoine De Smet as Head of the Map Room and Secretary-General of the National Centre for the History of Sciences (NCHS) which was housed in the Map Room. For the NCHS she published a selection of scientific contributions by Antoine De Smet on the history of Dutch cartography. Three years later, in 1977, under the umbrella of the 25th anniversary of the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) she mounted the exhibition Belgica in Orbe. It washer last major initiative in the field as an administrator with all attendant responsibilities; the care of her readers and personnel, and the collection, required her full attention. Lisette knew her collection as no other and was thus able to identify important gaps and to acquire significant documents. She had a special penchant for modern cartography, e.g. the maps of the British Admiralty.
Lisette was only 60 when she left the Library. But even if she no longer directed the Map Room, she continued as before to participate in conferences, occasionally presenting a paper (which she wasn’t really fond of), and contributing small but precious pearls of scientific research. In October 2006 she was honoured at the Royal Library of Belgium on the occasion of her 75th birthday with a liber amicorum entitled Margaritae cartographicae Studia Lisette Danckaert 75 um diem natalem agenti oblata, edited by Wouter Bracke, who inserted the 18 pages of her bibliography. The book contains, among others, an article by Monique Pelletier.
Lisette Danckaert
Lisette Danckaert
In December 1998 she participated in the Ortelius Conference, the first event of the newly founded BIMCC, today the Brussels Map Circle. She joined the Circle in November 1999 and its Executive Committee in December 1999. She became our scientific advisor in 2003, a post she held until end 2014 when Wouter Bracke took over. Over the years, she made numerous contributions to our Conferences, Study sessions and publications (starting with an article in BIMCC Newsletter No 5, September 1999). In particular, she was a member of the Editorial Committee and proof-read with a very sharp eye all contributions for publication in the Circle’s Newsletter/magazine. At the beginning of this year, although she was in constant pain in her room at Clinique Saint-Michel, she still reviewed the January issue of Maps in History. Lisette would have been 90 at the end of May 2020.
She will be missed by friends and colleagues.

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Following COVID-19, we recommend that our visitors check with the organizers prior to any exhibition visit and / or any participation in an event to find out if it has not been canceled.

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