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Two Grandes Dames in the History of Cartography have recently left the stage

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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