On January 17, 1994, a major earthquake struck Los Angeles, California; a treacherous ice storm paralyzed Charlottesville, Virginia, and the rest of the East Coast; I started my first day of work at Alderman Library at the University of Virginia; and Guy Benson of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation showed up at Alderman Library to propose a Lewis and Clark exhibition. With such a dramatic nativity this exhibition was destined to be a big event.
Guy Benson was helping to plan the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation's annual meeting that was scheduled to be held in Charlottesville in the summer of 1995. The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation had chosen this meeting place in order to focus on the role that Jefferson played in planning the Lewis and Clark Expedition and to establish Charlottesville as the beginning of the Lewis and Clark trail. Guy Benson came to Alderman Library to propose an exhibition of maps that would show the evolution of cartographic knowledge of North America up to the time that Lewis and Clark set out.
The riches of the McGregor map collection are little known outside Alderman Library. Although most of the maps have been locally cataloged, the holdings are not yet listed in the National Union Catalog or in the University of Virginia's on-line catalog. In his initial proposal, Benson suggested displaying thirty items and assumed that it would be necessary for the Special Collections Department to borrow most of these maps from the Library of Congress and other collections; happily, he soon discovered that the department housed most of the maps that were necessary to tell the story The exhibition soon grew to seventy items, including maps from the sixteenth century and navigational instruments like the ones taken on the expedition.
From January 1994 through July 1995, Benson made fifteen trips to Charlottesville from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, to work on the exhibition and to help plan the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation meeting. He has stayed in close contact with members of the Special Collections Department through electronic mail. Benson spent countless hours researching the maps, choosing the items, and writing the catalog. He has been a driving force behind all aspects of the exhibition, including finding additional funding for printing the catalog.
Though the McGregor map collection had most of the necessary maps, we still wanted to borrow some unique items from the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. In March, Guy Benson and I went up to Washington D.C. in order to meet with curators at these two institutions. We described the exhibition and provided these curators with a list of maps that we were including from our collections. Our request to borrow two original maps from the Geography and Maps Division of the Library of Congress the Nicholas King map and the David Thompson map was granted after our visit to D.C. This is especially fitting since John Logan Allen, the keynote speaker for the opening of Exploring the West from Monticello, originally discovered and identified the Nicholas King map in the National Archives in the early seventies. Our request to borrow William Clark's original compass from the Smithsonian Institution was also granted. I would like to thank all the institutions and individuals who lent items to the exhibition: Library of Congress; National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution; Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia; Monticello Archaeology Department, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation; and Guy Benson.
The exhibition promises to be a wonderful opportunity for the Library to show off its map collection and to make connections with Lewis and Clark enthusiasts around the country. I would like to thank all the people who helped make this exhibition and catalog happen, including:
Guy Benson, who had the idea, did the research, selected the items, and wrote the first version of the catalog.
Bill Irwin, who lent his expertise as an historian in editing and rewriting the catalog.
Guinevere Christmann, who composed the catalog into Aldus Pagemaker 5.0 and helped with the design.
George Riser, who installed a beautiful exhibition.
Jim Large, who advised us on navigational instruments.
Robert Bergantino, who created diagrams for the navigational instruments.
John Logan Allen, who served as geographic consultant.
From Alderman Library: Jeanne Hammer, Kathryn Morgan, Michael Plunkett, Jeanne Pardee, Douglas Hurd, Milly Crickenberger, Gregory Johnson, and Pauline Page.
From the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation: Jane Henley, Elizabeth Coles Langhorne, Bob Gatten, Gary Moulton, Martin Plamondon, and Florence Gatten.
From the Library of Congress: Ralph Ehrenberg, Ronald Grim, Gerard Gawalt, Sally Livingston, Tambra Johnson, and Dennis McNew.
From the Smithsonian Institution: Steven Turner, Larry Bird, Kay Youngflesh, Daryl Stuart, and David Burgevin.
From the Mariners' Museum: David Baumer, Karen Shackelford, Benjamin Trask, Claudia McFall, and Kerry Shackelford.
Others: Mildred Abraham, David Bearinger, Iris Belcher, Dana Blackwell, Richard Boss, Harvey Carpenter, Brian Gibson, Colonel Keith Gibson, Dan Jordan, James C. Kelly, Alice Lawhorne, Ann Lucas, Robert Morrill, Peter Onuf, William Runge, Rusty Smith, and Lucia Stanton.
Associate Curator for American History and Literature,
Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Co-Curator, Exploring the West from Monticello
When I arrived at Alderman Library on that snowy morning in January of 1994, the University was almost shut down. There to greet me was Jeanne Hammer, Library Budget Director, and her daughter. They had made it in with the help of a four-wheel drive vehicle. The cold outside did not affect the warmth of our meeting in a nearly empty building as Jeanne reviewed the map exhibition proposal. Her enthusiasm helped get the project off on the right tone.
On behalf of myself and the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, I would like to thank the many people listed in this catalog who helped to make the exhibition what, I am sure, will be a success. The open working relationship with the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library has been an exciting and rewarding experience. In particular, Mike Plunkett and Kathy Morgan have given us consistent management support. George Riser has been unfailing in locating material and in putting the displays together. Bill Irwin worked very long hours in editing and restructuring the catalog to make it more readable. Finally, it would have been impossible to work from a remote location without the "team work" of my co-curator, Heather Moore. Always dependable, she made important contributions to all phases of the project. She provided creative and insightful suggestions and often a dose of reality to ideas that had run amuck. Besides her normal duties, Heather handled the loan arrangements, provided a thoroughness to the project, and was responsible for designing a beautiful catalog.
On the Raleigh end of the "team" I would like to thank my wife, Joan Benson, for her unerring eye in proofreading the early versions of the catalog.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
Co-Curator, Exploring the West from Monticello