Matthew Edney: Reseerch and Publications

I am broadly interested in the histories of modern cartographies since the early seventeenth century, but with an emphasis on the long eighteenth century. My research, and writing, comprises several overlapping, interdisciplinary lines of inquiry. A last miscellaneous category follows.

1. Histories of the Mapping of Properties and Landscapes, especially in State and Imperial Contexts

I thought, as an undergraduate, that I would become a professional land surveyor. I did not forego this general subject as I developed my historical interests, which remain predicated upon my fascination with the practices, technologies, and institutional contexts of the surveying and mapping of property and landscapes. In particular, I have explored the intersections of systematic, geodetic-based surveys with both imperialism (especially with respect to British India) and state formation in the nineteenth-century (with respect especially to the USA).

“Politics, Science, and Government Mapping Policy in the United States, 1800–1925.” American Cartographer 13 (1986): 295–306.

“The Ordnance Survey and British Surveys in India.” Sheetlines: Newsletter of the Charles Close Society 26 (December 1989): 3–8 and 27 (April 1990): 9–10.

“Systematic Surveys and Mapping Policy in British India, 1757–1830.” Colonel Sir George Everest CB FRS: Proceedings of the Bicentenary Conference at the Royal Geographical Society, 8th November 1990, ed. James R. Smith, 1–11. London: Royal Geographical Society and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 1990.

“The Atlas of India, 1823–1947: The Natural History of a Topographic Map Series.” Cartographica 28, no. 4 (1991): 59–91.

“The Patronage of Science and the Creation of Imperial Space: The British Mapping of India, 1799–1843.” In Introducing Cultural and Social Cartography, ed. Robert A. Rundstrom, 61–67. Cartographica 30, no. 1 (1993): Monograph 44.

“Defining a Unique City: Surveying and Mapping Bombay after 1800.” In Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives, ed. Pauline Rohatgi, Pheroza Godrej, and Rahul Mehrota, 40–57. Bombay: Marg Publications, 1997; reprinted, 2001 and 2007. This was one of four essays selected from the eighteen in the book for simultaneous publication, as Marg: A Magazine of the Arts 48, no. 4 (1997): 28–45.

Mapping an Empire: The Geographic Construction of British India, 1765–1843. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN 0–226–18487–0 cloth; 0–226–18488–9 paper. (xxii + 458 pp.) Reprinted, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 (ISBN 019–565172–3); Reprinted digitally by the University of Chicago Press, via netLibrary, «», 2000 (ISBN 0–226–18486–2).

“Bringing India to Hand: Mapping an Empire, Denying Space.” In The Global Eighteenth Century, ed. Felicity Nussbaum, 65–78 and 334–36. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003; reprinted in paperback, 2005.

2. Enlightenment Cartography

Considering the development of the ideals of the modern systematic survey led me to explore the earlier ideals and practices of mapping in eighteenth-century Europe. Originally I sought to explore this in terms of "Enlightenment science" generally and in North America more particularly. Since 2000, I have been more interested in exploring "Enlightenment" ideals in the context of "public" discourse (what some people call "print culture," although I find this a remarkably unhelpful term when dealing with the intersections of manuscript and print circulation).

“Cartographic Confusion and Nationalism: The Meridian of Washington, DC, in the Early 19th Century.” Mapline: Newsletter of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at The Newberry Library 69/70 (Spring/Summer 1993): 4–8.

“Cartographic Culture and Nationalism in the Early United States: Benjamin Vaughan and the Choice for a Prime Meridian, 1811.” Journal of Historical Geography 20, no. 4 (1994): 384–95.

“Mathematical Cosmography and the Social Ideology of British Cartography, 1780–1820.” Imago Mundi 46 (1994): 101–16.

“British Military Education, Mapmaking, and Military ‘Map-Mindedness’ in the Later Enlightenment.” Cartographic Journal 31, no. 1 (1994): 14–20.

“Reconsidering Enlightenment Geography and Map-Making: Reconnaissance, Mapping, Archive.” In Geography and Enlightenment, ed. David N. Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers, 165–98. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

[mhe and Mary S. Pedley, editors] Cartography in the European Enlightenment. Vol. 4 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation.

Contributions to Cartography in the European Enlightenment, edited by Matthew H. Edney and Mary S. Pedley. Volume 4 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation. Specifically: “Introduction” (mhe and Pedley); “Celestial Cartography in the Enlightenment”; “Geodesy and the Size and Shape of the Earth” (mhe and Nicholas Dew); “Geographical Mapping in the Enlightenment”; “German States”; “Green, John”; “History and Cartography”; “Meridians, Local and Prime.”

3. Cartographies of Colonial New England and British North America

Since moving to Maine, I have focused on the cartographies associated with New England, and British North America more generally, during the colonial era (especially from mid-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century). My work on colonial cartographies has been increasingly driven by a concern for the circulation of spatial knowledge in the transatlantic arena and more particularly in the functioning of public discourses.

“Cartographic Creation of New England.” Online, 5 December 1996.

“The Mitchell Map: An Irony of Empire.” Online, 21 April 1997.

"The 'Percy Map': Maps and Military Strategy during the Revolution." Online, 19 April 1998.

“New England Mapped: The Creation of a Colonial Territory.” In La Cartografia europea tra primo Rinascimento e fine dell’Illuminismo: Atti del Convegno Internazionale «The Making of European Cartography» (Firenze, BNCF-EUI, 13–15 dicembre 2001), ed. Diogo Ramada Curto, Angelo Cattaneo, and André Ferrand Almeida, 155–76. Accademia toscana di scienze e lettere «La Colombaria», «Studi» 213. Florence: Leo S. Olshki Editore, 2003.

[mhe and Susan Cimburek] “Telling the Traumatic Truth: William Hubbard’s Narrative of King Philip’s War and his Map of New-England.” William and Mary Quarterly 3s 61, no. 2 (2004): 317–48.

“Maps.” In The Encyclopedia of New England: The Culture and History of an American Region, ed. Burt Feintuch and David H. Watters, 584–85. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005.

“Puritan New England’s Precarious Perch on ‘this Western Coast’.” In The Map Book, ed. Peter Barber, 176–77. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005.

“A Publishing History of John Mitchell’s Map of North America, 1755–1775.” Cartographic Perspectives, no. 58 (Fall 2007): 4–27 and 71–75.

“Printed but not Published: Limited-Circulation Maps of Territorial Disputes in Eighteenth-Century New England.” In Mappæ Antiquæ: Liber Amicorum Günter Schilder. Essays on the occasion of his 65th birthday, ed. Paula van Gestel-van het Schip and Peter van der Krogt, 147–58. Utrechtse Historisch-Cartografische Studies / Utrecht Studies in the History of Cartography, 6. ’t Goy-Houten, Neth.: HES & De Graaf Publishers, 2007.

“John Mitchell’s Map of North America (1755): A Study of the Use and Publication of Official Maps in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Imago Mundi 60, no. 1 (2008): 63–85.

“The Anglophone Place Names Associated with John Smith’s Description and Map of New England.” Names: A Journal of Onomastics 57, no.4 (2009): 189-207.

“Simon de Passe’s Cartographic Portrait of Captain John Smith and a New England (1616/7).” Word & Image 26, no.2 (2010): 186-213.

"A Cautionary Historiography of 'John Smith's New England.'" Cartographica 46, no. 1 (2011): 1-27.

“Competition over Land, Competition over Empire: Public Discourse and Printed Maps of the Kennebec River, 1753–1755.” In Early American Cartographies, ed. Martin Brückner, 276-305. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2011.

“Hugh, Earl Percy Remakes His Map of New England.” Portolan, no. 84 (2012): 27-37.

“The Lessons of a Generic Map: The 1793 Map of William Bingham’s Maine Lands.” In “Cartographic Conversation,” edited by Jordana Dym, Providence, R.I.: John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, online 7 June 2012.

Contributions to Cartography in the European Enlightenment, edited by Matthew H. Edney and Mary S. Pedley. Volume 4 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation. Specifically: “British America”; “United States of America.”

4. A Processual Approach to Map History

Underpinning all of these historical themes is my broad theoretical interest in the nature of maps, cartography, and their history, and so the pursuit of a critical map history. I have sought to implement my theoretical concerns by identifying and distinguishing between specific spatial discourses and the cartographic practices they have supported. This processual approach originated in my reflections on the distinct modes of cartography but came to fruition with two developments. First, my work for the award-winning The History of Cartography required me to structure the design of Volume Four, Cartography in the European Enlightenment, around the modes and endeavors of cartography; the approach has since been followed for the later volumes as well. Second, as I related maps to book history, I became enamored of the sociology of texts; this specific approach, akin to actor network theory, seems in particular to hold out the ability to come to terms with the formation of public discourse and the differences between manuscript and print production. In addition to underpinning my reexamination of "classic" maps of colonial North America, the processual approach permits complex and sophisticated overviews of large swathes of map history.

[Untitled] In “Responses to J. B. Harley’s Article, ‘Deconstructing the Map,’ Published in the Last Issue of Cartographica (Volume 26, Number 2, Summer 1989, pp. 1–20),” ed. Edward H. Dahl, 93–96. Cartographica 26, nos. 3 and 4 (1989): 89–121.

“Cartography without ‘Progress’: Reinterpreting the Nature and Historical Development of Mapmaking.” Cartographica 30, nos. 2 and 3 (1993): 54–68. Reprinted in

  • Classics in Cartography: Reflections on Influential Articles from the Journal ‘Cartographica,’ ed. Martin Dodge (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 305-29;
  • (excerpt) The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, ed. Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin, and Chris Perkins (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 73-82;
  • Human Geography, ed. Derek Gregory and Noel Castree, 5 vols. (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, 2012), 2:271-96;
  • Mapping, ed. Martin Dodge, 4 vols. (London: Routledge, 2015), 1: item 10.

[Helen Wallis and mhe] “Cartography.” In Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences, ed. Ivor Grattan-Guinness, 1101–14. London: Routledge, 1994. Reprinted London: Routledge, 2003; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

“Theory and the History of Cartography.” Imago Mundi 48 (1996): 185–91.

“Cartography, Disciplinary History”; “Geography, Disciplinary History”; and “Geography, The Word.” In Sciences of the Earth: An Encyclopedia of Events, People, and Phenomena, ed. Gregory A. Good, 1:81–85, 1:277–82, and 1:298. 2 vols. Garland Encyclopedias in the History of Science, 3. New York: Garland, 1998.

“Mapping Parts of the World.” In Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, ed. James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow, Jr., 117–57. Chicago: University of Chicago Press for the Field Museum and the Newberry Library, 2007.

“Mapping Empires, Mapping Bodies: Reflections on the Use and Abuse of Cartography.” Treballs de la Societat Catalana de Geografia, no. 63 (2007): 83–104.

“The Irony of Imperial Mapping.” In The Imperial Map: Cartography and the Mastery of Empire, ed. James R. Akerman, 11–45. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

“Knowledge and Cartography in the Early Atlantic.” In Oxford Handbook on the Atlantic World, c.1450-1820, ed. Nicholas Canny and Philip Morgan, 87–112. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

“Progress and the Nature of ‘Cartography.’” In Classics from Cartographica: Reflections on Influential Articles from Cartographica, ed. Martin Dodge, 325–36. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2011.

“Field / Map: An Historiographic Review and Reconsideration.” In Scientists and Scholars in the Field: Studies in the History of Fieldwork and Expeditions, ed. Kristian H. Nielsen, Michael Harbsmeier, and Christopher J. Ries, 431-56. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012.

Plus ça change: Defining Academic Cartography for the Twenty-First Century.” Cartographica 47, no. 1 (2012): 64-69.

“Cartography and Its Discontents.” In “Deconstructing the Map: 25 Years On,” edited by Reuben Skye Rose-Rosewood. Cartographica 50, no. 1 (2015): 9–13.

5. History of Map History

A necessary component of my theoretical work has been an historiographical evaluation of the practices of map history since the 1700s. This work has been augmented by detailed reviews of the careers and significance of J. B. Harley and David Woodward.

“J. B. Harley (1932–1991): Questioning Maps, Questioning Cartography, Questioning Cartographers.” Cartography and Geographic Information Systems 19, no. 3 (1992): 175–78.

“Works by J. B. Harley.” In J. B. Harley, The New Nature of Cartography, ed. Paul Laxton, 281–96. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001; repr. 2005. Reprinted as “Obras de J. B. Harley,” in J. B. Harley, La nueva naturaleza de los mapas: Ensayos sobre la historia de la cartografia, ed. Paul Laxton (Mexico City: Fondo de cultura económica, 2005), 331–48.

“David Alfred Woodward (1942–2004).” Imago Mundi 57, no. 1 (2005): 75–83.

The Origins and Development of J. B. Harley’s Cartographic Theories. Cartographica Monograph 54. Cartographica 40, nos. 1 & 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. ISSN 0317–7173. (x + 143 pp.)

“David Woodward: An Appreciation.” Cartographic Perspectives no. 51 (Spring 2005): 58–59.

“Putting ‘Cartography’ into the History of Cartography: Arthur H. Robinson, David Woodward, and the Creation of a Discipline.” Cartographic Perspectives, no. 51 (Spring 2005): 14–29. Reprinted with revisions and excisions in Critical Geographies: A Collection of Readings, ed. Harald Bauder and Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro (Praxis (e)Press, 2008), 711–28.

“Recent Trends in the History of Cartography: A Selective, Annotated Bibliography to the English-Language Literature.” Version 2.1. Coordinates: Online Journal of the Map and Geography Round Table, American Library Association, ser. B, no. 6 (11 April 2007). or Version 2.0 was previously published as Coordinates, ser. B, no. 6 (10 March 2006).

“Cartography, History of”; “Geo-Body”; and “Map-Reading.” In The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th ed., ed. Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael Watts, and Sarah Whatmore, 69-72, 274-75, and 439. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009.

“Cartography's 'Scientific Reformation' and the Study of Topographical Mapping in the Modern Era.” In History of Cartography: International Symposium of the ICA Commission, 2010, ed. Elri Liebenberg and Imre Josef Demhardt, 287-303.Publications of the International Cartographic Association, 2. Heidelberg: Springer for the International Cartographic Association, 2012.

"History of Cartography." In Oxford Bibliographies in Geography (online), ed. Barney Warf. New York: Oxford University Press, 27 November 2013.

“Academic Cartography, the Internal History of Cartography, and the Critical Study of Mapping Processes.” In “People, Places and Ideas in the History of Cartography,” edited by Michael Heffernan. Imago Mundi 66, suppl. (2014): 83–106.

“A Content Analysis of Imago Mundi, 1935–2010.” In “People, Places and Ideas in the History of Cartography,” edited by Michael Heffernan. Imago Mundi 66, suppl. (2014): 107–31.

Contributions to Cartography in the Twentieth Century, edited by Mark Monmonier. Vol. 6 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Specifically: “Harley, J(ohn) Brian”; “Histories of Cartography”; “History of Cartography Project”; “Modes of Cartographic Practice”; and “Woodward, David.”

Contributions to Cartography in the European Enlightenment, edited by Matthew H. Edney and Mary S. Pedley. Volume 4 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation. Specifically: “Cartographic Practice, Modes of.”

Contributions to Cartography in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Roger J. P. Kain. Volume 5 of The History of Cartography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation. Specifically: “Cartographic Practice, Modes of”; “History of Cartography.”

6. Other publications associated with programmatic activities

“The Thirteenth International Conference on the History of Cartography, Amsterdam, 26–30 June, 1989: A Review and Perspective.” Cartographica 26, nos. 3 and 4 (1989): 121–27.

“Strategies for Maintaining the Democratic Nature of a Geographic Information System.” Papers and Proceedings of Applied Geography Conferences 14 (1991): 100–8.

“Mapping and the Early Modern State: The Intellectual Nexus of Late Tudor and Early Stuart Mapping: Review of Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).” Cartographica 29, nos. 3 and 4 (1992): 89–93.

“The History of Cartography and Cartographic Education: Responding to Institutional and Theoretical Changes.” In Proceedings of the Seminar on Teaching the History of Cartography II, held at The Newberry Library, Chicago, June 23, 1993, during the 15th International Conference on the History of Cartography, ed. F. J. Ormeling and Yde T. Bourma, 45–49. Utrecht: International Cartographic Association, 1994.

“The Basel 1494 Columbus Letter.” Online, 14 October 1996.

[principal contributor] “Worldly Treasures: A Fifth Anniversary Celebration.” Online, 4 October 1999.

[mhe and Irwin D. Novak, editors] Reading the World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Pieter van den Keere’s Map, “Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula” (Amsterdam, 1608/36). Occasional Publication of the Osher Library Associates, 1. Portland: University of Southern Maine for the Osher Library Associates, 2001 (ISBN 0–939561–31–X paper). (x + 42 pp.)

[George S. Carhart with mhe] “An Exercise in Map Genealogy: Guillaume Delisle’s L’Amerique Septentrionale and its Many Offspring.” Mercator’s World 6, no. 4 (2001): 44–49 and 6, no. 5 (2001): 28–35.

“Mapping the Republic: Conflicting Concepts of the Character and Territory of the USA, 1790–1900.” Online, 10 October 2003.

[mhe, Jack Lamb, and George S. Carhart, comps.] “Bibliography of the Works of Moses Greenleaf.” In Walter M. Macdougall, Settling the Maine Wilderness: Moses Greenleaf, His Maps, and His Household of Faith, 1777–1834, 125–27. Occasional Publication of the Osher Library Associates, 3. Portland, Me.: Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine, for the Osher Library Associates, 2006.

The Moon Mapp’d: Imagining a New World. Commentary for Annual Broadsheet, no. 14. Madison: The Silver Buckle Press, University of Wisconsin, for the History of Cartography Project, 2006. See

The Surveyor as a ‘Madman’. Commentary for Annual Broadsheet, no. 15. Madison: The Silver Buckle Press, University of Wisconsin, for the History of Cartography Project, 2007. See

“Uncharted Territory.” Times Higher Education, no. 1819 (9 November 2007): 16–19.

“American Treasures.” Online, 14 October 2009.

“Foreword.” In Edward V. Thompson, Printed Maps of the District and State of Maine, 1793-1860: An Illustrated and Comparative Study, vii. Bangor, Me.: Nimue Books & Prints, 2010.

“Foreword.” In Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader, ed. Jordana Dym and Karl Offen, xv-xvii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

“Prologue.” In Sandra Sáenz-López Pérez, Marginalia in cARTography: Exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, February 28–May 18, 2014, 3. Madison: Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, 2014. Published online at

“Map Commentaries.” A number of small accounts of specific maps for the Osher Map Library. Online since February 2013 at “‘The Most Important Map in U.S. History’” (August 2012); “Mapping the Entire Cosmos: Heavens and Earth” (August 2012); “Mapping U.S. History in the Early Republic” (August 2012); “Napoleonic Plan of Boulogne’s Defenses” (January 2013); “Maps as Commentaries” (February 2013); “The Eagle Map of the United States” (September 2014).

“The Art of the Hand-Drawn Map.” Online, 16 October 2014.