|Special Collections Division
the University of Texas
at Arlington Libraries
Vol. XV * No. 2 * Fall 2001
For the past three decades, Special Collections has been building a cartographic history collection focusing on Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Built largely through the private donations of individuals like Ted and Helen Mayborn, Lewis and Virginia Buttery, William Collins, W. E. Chilton, Jr., Robert Isham, Marvin and Shirley Applewhite, Murray Hudson, Jenkins and Virginia Garrett, and many others, and with the support of the Sid Richardson Foundation of Fort Worth and the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas, the collection now numbers more than 6,500 maps dating from 1493 to the present and 2,200 school and commercial atlases and geographies dating from the 16th through the 20th centuries. UTA is committed to not only amassing and preserving a unique resource like this, but also to making it available to a wide audience and developing programs and launching initiatives to ensure that the maps and atlases are accessible and used by researchers across the country.
Three years ago Virginia Garrett donated more than 900 maps of Texas and the Gulf Coast to UTA—at the time this was the largest such collection in private hands. Mrs. Garrett’s gift came with a challenge. Her collection was donated with the provision that UTA guarantee that this historic collection be processed, cataloged, enhanced, and the focus of public and academic programs. In short, she wanted the collection used and developed. Her ideas about the collection and the university’s interest in preserving and providing wide access to it were essentially one in the same.
In order to ensure the viability and vitality of the collection and to carry out Mrs. Garrett’s wish, the university has launched an endowment campaign with the goal of raising $700,000. To date, $351,000 has been raised or pledged from private sources. The Garrett Endowment’s income is used to underwrite future acquisitions for the map collection, help preserve maps needing conservation treatment, implement programming focusing on cartographic history, and launch outreach initiatives informing students, scholars, and the general public of the collection and encouraging its use. The university has ensured the adequate staffing of the map collection by funding three positions in Special Collections: a cartographic archivist, a maps cataloger, and a paraprofessional who works with the archivist to plan and implement programs, exhibits, publications, and other projects.
In May 2001, the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation of Dallas approved a $75,000 challenge grant for the Garrett Endowment with the proviso that UTA raise the match by April 1, 2002. This is a significant step toward the university reaching its fundraising goal. The King Foundation grant is serving as a catalyst for other gifts because it gives individuals, foundations, and businesses an opportunity to leverage their donations to the endowment.
UTA has become a leader in cartographic education and the collection of cartographic resources, and the Garrett Endowment will help sustain the university’s leadership position. Four factors have made this leadership possible:
Faculty. UTA has a faculty known for its research, writing, and teaching in cartographic history. For example, Dr. David Buisseret, the Jenkins and Virginia Garrett Endowed Chairholder in Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography, holds the only chair in cartographic history in the country. Dr. Dennis Reinhartz, professor of history, has written extensively about maps of the Spanish entradas and English mapmaker Herman Moll. Dr. Richard Francaviglia, director of UTA’s Center for Greater Southwestern Studies, teaches and publishes in the areas of Southwestern history, maritime history, and the natural history of the Cross Timbers and Great Basin, all with a map emphasis. These individuals are just a few examples of the diversity of faculty at UTA who exploit the collection.
The Collection. As stated above, UTA holds one of the richest collections of maps and cartographic products focusing on Texas and the Gulf of Mexico outside of the Library of Congress. The collection complements the other historical resources in Special Collections, such as books, serials, manuscript collections, broadsides, and photographs. Taken together, the maps and the other materials found in Special Collections serve as a laboratory of sorts where individuals can ask and answer questions about the past.
Library Staff. UTA has invested heavily in developing and making the map collection accessible. Special Collections staff members are responsible for the collection’s preservation, development, outreach programs, and administration. Sally Gross, program coordinator for Special Collections, manages the area, while Kit Goodwin, who has written and lectured on cartographic history, is cartographic archivist. Carolyn Kadri holds the position of maps cataloger, and Pratap Mandapaka is the staff member who works on exhibitions and other outreach and public programs spotlighting the map collection. All members of the Special Collections staff provide reference assistance for the collection. The maps and atlases are housed in the beautiful and functional Virginia Garrett Cartographic History Library, a facility designed specifically for the collection located on the sixth floor of UTA’s Central Library.
Commitment. UTA has made a university-wide commitment to promote and interpret the collection both inside and outside of the boundaries of the campus. For example, two years ago the university created a doctoral program in Transatlantic History based, in part, on the historical maps and other resources found in Special Collections. Moreover, the History Department’s Public History Program on the master’s level helps train students on ways to administer and develop historical collections like the map collection. UTA’s Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography works closely with the Libraries in developing classes and curricula to incorporate maps into diverse courses across the university. In addition, the Center develops and sponsors public programs aimed at revealing the riches of Special Collections to both a scholarly and general audience. Several such programs have been held, including ones on Texas annexation, local history, the U.S.-Mexican border, the U.S. War with Mexico, and the natural environment of the North Texas region. Moreover, every other year Special Collections sponsors the Virginia Garrett Lectures in the History of Cartography. These lectures bring together cartographic history scholars from around the world to explore specific subjects and themes. To date, the themes of the lectures have been Soldiers and Engineers on the Southwestern Frontier and Maps and Popular Culture. In 2002, the theme will be The Third Coast: Mapping the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Beyond the campus, the Houston Endowment, Inc. recognized UTA’s push to broaden access to its maps when, in 1999, it granted the university $200,000 to fund "Cartographic Connections: Improving Teaching Through the Use of Historic Maps," a project intended to connect teachers and students in K-12 with historic maps from UTA’s collection. The overall goal of the project is to improve the classroom experience in the state and excite students about history and maps.
With the faculty, collection, library staff, and university commitment to outreach and cartographic history education in place, the final piece in the puzzle to assure the further development of the Virginia Garrett Cartographic History Library is the endowment. Progress is steady toward the goal of building a $700,000 endowment thanks to support from individuals, foundations, and businesses. Those interested in making a gift to the Garrett Endowment can contact Gerald Saxon at 817-272-5318 or email at email@example.com .
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This page last update on Wednesday, June 25, 2003