January 25, 2008 — A significant collection of rare and historic maps has been pledged to the University of Virginia Library and will be featured in a free exhibition opening this month.
Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz, Distinguished Alumni Professor in the University of Rochester’s department of surgery, is also a renowned cartographic historian. His collection of more than 200 rare maps is considered among the finest in the world.
Included are one of the oldest maps to show the western hemisphere (1508), the first map to show Florida (Hernando Cortés’s 1524 map of Mexico City), and an 18th century map of the Ohio River Valley drawn by then-unknown surveyor George Washington.
The collection documents 300 years of attempts to “put America on a map.” The maps capture American history, from the first European awareness of the continent’s existence to the geographic rendering that is familiar today.
Schwartz has published extensively in the fields of surgery and cartography. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the popular textbook, “Principles of Surgery,” and is the author of five books about historic maps, including “The Mismapping of America” and, most recently, “Putting America on the Map.”
“We are thrilled and honored that Dr. Schwartz chose the University of Virginia to steward this incredible collection,” said Karin Wittenborg, University Librarian. “Dr. Schwartz’s generosity makes it possible for faculty, students, and scholars around the world to use these wonderful materials for research, teaching, and inspiration.”
“The University of Virginia Library is well-known for its collection of American history and its dedication to sharing those treasures with the world,” said Schwartz. “I am delighted that my collection will be preserved and, more important, used to teach and inspire people around the world.”
The pledged bequest will be celebrated this month with the naming of a map room in Schwartz’s honor and the opening of an exhibit at the library. The Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz Map Room, furnished with large tables for map study and discussion, will be dedicated in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library on Saturday, Jan 26th.
The exhibit, “On the Map,” will open Monday, Jan. 28, in the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture building on U.Va.’s central Grounds. The exhibit will feature highlights from Schwartz’s collection and will be on display through 2008. Admission is free. Directions and hours are available on the U.Va. Library’s Web site.