Putting “Cartography” into the History of Cartography: Arthur H. Robinson, David Woodward, and the Creation of a Discipline

Matthew H. Edney



Arthur Robinson and David Woodward significantly expanded the scope and nature of the history of cartography. Previously, cartographic historians had emphasized the study of map content. As practicing cartographers, Robinson and Woodward promoted the “internal” study of the history of cartographic techniques and design. Robinson used an historically minded rhetoric to define the proper nature of U.S. academic cartography after 1945 and he pursued important studies in the history of thematic mapping. Woodward pioneered the study of map printing. Moreover, he was crucial in transforming the “internal” approach to cartographic history into a discrete discipline focused on the study of maps as human documents. Woodward’s humanistic perspective ultimately formed the foundation of both the multi-volume History of Cartography and Brian Harley’s cartographic theorizing.


history of cartography (map content, internal, humanistic); academic cartography; cartographic communication; historiography

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