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Antiquarian Maps

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About the Collection

In the 1930s, Alfred Cormack, an executive of the Jantzen Corporation in Portland, Oregon, moved his family to London, England in order to oversee his company's mills. The family lived in London until the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Mr. Cormack's youngest son, James Frederick Cormack, later attended Reed College. He graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1948.

While living in London, Mr. Cormack became interested in antiquarian maps; particularly maps from the age of exploration illustrating the development of the North American continent. His collection of 77 maps, dating from 1486 to 1864, contains examples of the development of mapmaking, from the highly decorative maps of the 16th and 17th centuries to the more scientifically accurate maps and nautical charts of the 18th and 19th centuries. The maps were given to Reed College after Mr. Cormack's death in 1968, where they are a part of the library's special collections.

Funding for the archiving, cataloging, and original digitization of the maps was provided by the U.S. Department of Education in 1997 as part of a project to improve access to maps collections in the Portland metropolitan area. At that time, the maps were digitized by staff members of the Oregon Historical Society; editing and cataloging work, as well as web design, was done by Niels Proctor, a former Reed College student; and Dena Hutto, Director of Reference and Instruction, served as project coordinator and also worked on web design.

In 2009, the maps were rescanned with Reed College research funds provided by Assistant Professor of History and Humanities Margot Minardi, and digital asset management staff integrated the Antiquarian Maps into Reed Digital Collections and redesigned the website. Scanning and image editing was done by Reed College student Sean O'Neill, the project was managed by Angie Beiriger (Digital Assets Specialist), and the website was designed by Jason Parker (Academic Web Specialist).


All original materials and digitized images are owned by Reed College. You may use these materials on a fair use basis only, in accordance with Title 17, Section 107 of U.S. copyright law. For other uses, please contact the Special Collections Librarian for permission to reproduce, publish, or otherwise distribute images or other materials on this website. We request that any reproduction of these images include an attribution to Reed College Library as the source of this material.