Using the Right Tool: David Woodward's Suggested Framework and the Study of Military Cartography

Joel Douglas Radunzel


In 1974 David Woodward suggested a framework for organizing the study of the history of cartography that unified on one hand the process and the output of cartographic production, and on the other hand the four sequential phases of cartographic production, from information gathering through document use. In a survey of scholars who have cited Woodward’s model I note that, while this framework has influenced the conceptual development of map history, it has rarely been applied rigorously to specific instances of mapping. I argue that this model is an underutilized tool in cartographic scholarship, and that Woodward’s matrix is ideally suited to examining how military units carry out mapping. Because military units, particularly large ones, are in effect self-contained systems that cyclically produce, use, and reproduce their own maps, I contend that scholars can modify Woodward’s original model in content, though not in structure, to study military mapping activities. To illustrate this point, I present as a case study the British military’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) during the Gaza Campaign of late 1917. This force performed a broad range of mapping activity, much of it innovative. A modification of the Woodward framework that brings together the specific elements of the EEF’s information gatherers, information processors, and map users into a single cohesive cartographic system illustrates the value and utility of this framework for studying the history of military cartography.



military geography; military cartography; history of cartography; David Woodward (1942–2004)

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