{ subscribe_url:'//loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/geography-and-maps.php', }

New Paper on Philip Lee Phillips, the “King of Maps” for the Library of Congress

Today’s post is from Ryan Moore, a Cartographic Specialist in the Geography and Map Division.

The Philip Lee Phillips Map Society of the Library of Congress is pleased to announce its latest installment of The Occasional Papers: “The King of Maps: Philip Lee Phillips’ First Acquisitions Trips in the Deep South 1903 and Europe 1905.”

The paper’s author, Cheryl Fox, is a Specialist in the Library’s Manuscript Division. Ms. Fox had been researching the history of acquisitions at the Library during the tenure of Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam. After we examined some of Phillips’ material housed in the Geography and Map Division Vault, Ms. Fox, Geography and Map Division Chief Ralph E. Ehrenberg, and myself discussed developing a research paper specifically on Phillips. Her efforts have greatly expanded our knowledge of our group’s namesake.

Philip Lee Phillips was the first Superintendent of the Hall of Maps and Charts at the Library of Congress from 1897 to 1924. An excellent organizer and bibliographer, Phillips, however, lacked experience in acquisitions and relationship-building with map sellers and other librarians. Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam recognized Phillips’ talent and dispatched him on his first acquisitions trip in 1903 to New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Having lived in these cities as boy, Phillips had connections with members of the defeated Confederate government and military from whom he purchased documents relating to the Civil War, including a rare map of the Siege of Vicksburg that was printed on wallpaper.

Occasional Papers

Excerpt of the cover of the latest issue of The Occasional Papers (Series No. 11).

Putnam continued to encourage Phillips to develop his skills as a liaison for the Library of Congress. In 1905, he was sent to Europe to not only acquire rare maps but also to serve as a delegate of the American Library Association to the International Congress for Reproduction of Manuscripts, Coins and Seals in Liège, Belgium.

The trips marked an important development in his career. He devised a system for acquiring rare and unique cartographic materials, which helped to make the Library of Congress the foremost cartographic library in the United States. The Washington Post dubbed him “The King of Maps” in a profile published just after his trip in 1905. Fox’s paper includes reproductions of some of the most interesting maps and materials that Phillips selected personally while on acquisitions trips in the American South and Europe. These trips helped to widen and deepen the Library’s holdings and make the Geography and Map Division one of the premier collections of cartographic materials in the world.

The publication is available for members of the Philip Lee Phillips Map Society. For more information about membership and to read prior issues of The Occasional Papers, please click here.

Celebrating Waldseemuller’s Carta Marina at 500: A Conference at the Library of Congress

Conference Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1516 Carta Marina. Keynote address by award winning author and historian of science Dava Sobel. A two-day conference hosted by the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Waldseemüller’s Carta Marina, one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance […]

The Map Collection of Neil Sheehan, Reporter of the Pentagon Papers

Today’s post is from Ryan Moore, a Cartographic Specialist in the Geography and Map Division. Cornelius Mahoney “Neil” Sheehan (1936- ) is a journalist best known for his reporting on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Department of Defense study of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Sheehan, when working as a reporter for The New York […]

A Mother’s Day Map from the Civil War

Today’s guest post is from Ed Redmond, a Cartographic Reference Specialist and Vault Collections Curator in the Geography & Map Division at the Library of Congress. A recent Library of Congress Blog post entitled “Trending: The Mother of Mother’s Day” reminded me of one of my favorite Civil War maps.   Although Mother’s Day as we […]

British Spy Map of Lexington and Concord: A Detective Story

Today’s guest post is from Ed Redmond, a Cartographic Reference Specialist and Vault Collections Curator in the Geography & Map Division. In school, we all learned about Paul Revere and his famous April 18, 1775 ride through the Massachusetts countryside warning of an impending British armed force marching from Boston, MA to the small towns […]

Millie the Mapper

In honor of Women’s History Month this March, Worlds Revealed is featuring weekly posts about the history of women in geography and cartography. You can click on the “Women’s History Month” category see all related posts.   We’ve all heard the story of Rosie the Riveter: women, from a wide variety of backgrounds, who entered […]

Rare Spanish manuscript map showing the western borders of the Louisiana Purchase arrives at the Library of Congress

Today’s guest post is by Anthony Páez Mullan, a cartographic reference specialist in the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress. He specializes in the historical cartography of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Iberian Peninsula and is a co-author of the “Luso-Hispanic World in Maps.” The Library of Congress recently acquired an important […]

Deciphering the Land: An Unknown Estate Survey Book from Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century Italy

The following is a guest post by Margherita Pampinella, an Associate Professor of Italian at Towson University in Maryland. An expert in the poetry of Dante, I introduced her to this collection of completely unstudied manuscripts and cadastral surveys several years ago and she was hooked. Since that time she has spent countless hours deciphering the […]