January 24, 2022

Report: “At Stanford’s David Rumsey Map Center, the Past, Present and Future Converge”

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Deep inside Stanford University’s Green Library, David Rumsey makes his way up a winding staircase, stopping at every turn to admire the various historical-map wallpapers that stretch from floor to ceiling. With infectious excitement, he takes in the Paraná River in South America, Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, Mount Kailash in Tibet and even the constellations, depicted colorfully in a massive celestial chart.

At the top of the stairs, Rumsey, a San Francisco resident and one of the country’s leading map collectors, reaches the David Rumsey Map Center, where he again stops to admire a historical map — this time a 1602 goat-hide map of Europe splayed out on a table. He traces the worn, blackened edges with his fingertip.


The idea is for the center to serve as an arena for experimentation and education where individuals, regardless of their scholarship on maps, can explore the primary documents and their scanned, digital counterparts in order to perhaps learn a little bit about where we’ve come from and where we are today.

At the heart of that endeavor is the digitization of Rumsey’s vast physical collection, a project he began in the late 1990s when he launched davidrumsey.com, a constantly growing aggregation of about 112,000 digitized historical maps from his personal inventory. Rumsey, 77, is in the process of donating his entire map collection — more than 200,000 physical maps plus the digital ones — to Stanford so that they can be cataloged for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 1000 words)

Direct to David Rumsey Digital Collections

Direct to David Rumsey Map Center (via Stanford Libraries)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.